One of the most important things we do each day is ask questions. Of all of those questions some of the most important, are the questions we ask ourselves. What kind of questions are you asking yourself? (As you will see a little farther down, this is a fact finding/enlightening question.)
While it is true that the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked, some questions are better than others. Some questions are more empowering, inspiring or enlightening. In fact, I believe these are the three main types of self asked questions and they all have their opposite counterpart. But how do we know the difference? (Fact finding/enlightening). We feel our way through, that’s how.
The first type of self asked questions I would like to look at is the empowering question and the opposite, dis-empowering question. An empowering question engages the one asking in their own processes. The dis-empowering one does not.
The famous question, ‘why me?’ is a dis empowering question because it is not possible to answer it and it holds no hope and therefore, leaves the ask-er disengaged from their own process. An alternative and more empowering question that could be used in its place is, ‘why not me?’ While this question is not really answerable either, it does leave one with a feeling of hope and possibility.
Can you feel the difference between the questions? Can you identify that feeling when you ask yourself questions?
Here is another set of dis-empowering and empowering questions. See how they feel:
Why can’t I? (Unanswerable/dis-empowering)
Why can I? (Hopeful/empowering)
What can I do instead? (Engaging/empowering)
The next type of question I would like to explore is the inspiring/uninspiring question. An example of an uninspiring question might be, ‘What did I do wrong?’ Any time we spend time focused on the negative, it will take the wind right out of our sails and that is why I call these questions uninspiring.
Then there is the opposite to that, the inspiring question which could be something like, ‘ What did I do well?’ Inspiring questions are usually exploratory in nature and leaves the ask-er feeling positive or at least, that there is potential for a positive outcome like in this example: ‘What could I do better?’ This question is focused on the potential for a positive outcome and it is an idea stimulating question that engages our creative nature.
Can you feel the difference that makes one question inspiring and the other uninspiring? It’s important to book mark these feelings so you can feel your way through the questions you ask yourself each day.
Inspiring questions lead us to be proactive in our creative process, bring insight to the situation and adds energy to what it is to be done. According to Kurt Wright, author of the brilliant book ‘Breaking the Rules,’ one of the things that visionary leaders and effortless high performers have that other people don’t, is their ability to ask inspiring questions. I don’t know about you but I definitely want to be an effortless high performer.
The final type of question to ask self that I want to look at a little bit is enlightening questions. An enlightening question is one that gives you useful information like, for example, ‘What will I serve for dinner tonight?’
I believe that the difference between enlightening and unenlightening questions is more a matter of a matter of attitude then wording. If you ask yourself a question like ‘What will I serve for dinner?’ from a point of panic, you won’t have the emotional space for an answer to come through. If you don’t believe you have something to serve – you won’t see that you do.
I call these questions enlightening questions because one definition of the word enlightening is: ‘to make lighter’ or ‘to make visible,’ (that which was not visible before) and like any enlightening process one must believe to engage that process. In order to take advantage of the fact finding properties of an enlightening question, you need to be in a place of belief that there is an answer to be found.
By asking yourself questions that actually serve you and make you feel empowered, inspired and enlightened, you can create a day that moves gently, is graceful, adventurous and joyful. Just remember to stop and feel your questions as you ask them, and you can do all of that and more.