The Power of Questions

The success of every civilization, whether in terms of spirituality, humanity, inventions and discoveries can be mapped out by the quality of the questions asked.

Every transformational leader uses questions to drive the strategic dialog with his or her teams.

Let’s explore how we can create the right questions:

1. Define the present state
“What are we doing today and why now?”

Often organizations get too involved in charting out new strategies and initiatives without questioning the legacy work that’s still being done. No strategic way forward can be defined unless we first establish the current status.

2. Align with broader goals
“How does that align with our goal or big picture?”

Every activity defined in our scope of work should bring us closer to the organizational goal — whether it’s about bringing value to your customers or streamlining a process or raising team morale. The nature and priority of each role should be defined in the context of the organizational goal. This question will also help you determine the importance and immediacy of each issue.

3. Determine changes if any
“What has changed in the last few months/weeks?”

This question is a powerful investigative tool and will force your team to re-assess the situation at hand, uncover changes, and make the necessary course adjustments to respond to the changing environment.

4. Pay close attention to the responses
“What do the responses reflect?”

Listen carefully to not only the content but also the specific choice and intonation of the words your team uses to describe the situation or challenge. Taking notes is a good idea, for they can play a crucial role in revealing hidden insights and defining your future strategy. Refrain from immediate judgment or reaction. Your role while asking questions is only to dispassionately gather as much information as possible.

5. Define the desired state
“What would an ideal solution look like to you?” “What does success look like for our team?

Every organization has criteria to measure success. Success is defined by not just meeting the objective but is also defined by the processes, actions, behaviors, relationships, and outcomes achieved to reach the objective. This question creates a conduit from your present situation to your desired future state.

6. Be open to solutions
“What can we do? What are our options?

Every solution offered by your team, however seemingly insignificant, can play a critical part in adding another facet to the situation or prompt another set of solutions. Some solutions will be feasible, while others will be a stretch, but they can lead you to another idea. As such, do not reject any solution for now.

9. Dig Deeper
“What else can we do to achieve more, better, faster?”

The term ‘what else’ challenges your team to think more, do more and do it more efficiently and effectively. You might be tempted to jump directly to this question. But if you haven’t asked the preceding set of questions, you might come up with an incoherent stream of ideas that might not reveal any true way forward.

10. Articulate the expected impact in graphic detail
“If we can resolve this, how would that impact our outcome?” “How would this solution change us?”

Once you have defined the desired state, this question further clarifies the impact of that state in terms of benefits and outcomes for each team member.

The more proficient you get in asking the right questions, the better placed you are to drive success for your team and your organization.

Perfection vs Excellence

Excellence is striving for what you are capable of. Perfection is striving for what you are not capable of.

Excellence means you can always get better no matter where you are on your journey. Perfection means you can no longer get better.

Striving for Excellence uplifts you and invites positive stress. Striving for Perfection causes a lot of negative stress and makes you feel limited.

Excellence makes you focus on what is working and do more of that. Perfection makes you focus on what is not working and you end up attracting more of that.

Excellence is always possible. Perfection is always impossible.

Striving for excellence is a worthy goal. Perfection is for people who are dead and cannot make mistakes anymore.

Your Engine!

What do you deem to be your priority?

If your priority is your physique then you will have a good physique.

If your priority is wealth, you will attract more wealth.

If your priority is family, you will have better family relationships.

If your priority is service & spirituality, you will attract more service & spirituality.

When you prioritize spirituality & service, you create the foundation of abundance in wealth, health, and family. Why? Because spirituality is the ‘engine’ that gets the entire being in motion.

Power

Your real power has always been within you yet for most it lies untapped. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Do you believe in your enormous power within?
•Do you set audacious goals?
• Do you believe that you can achieve your audacious goals?
• Do you walk, talk, sleep and breathe like a winner irrespective of the situation?
• Do you take daily actions that are aligned with your goals?
• Have you got the right team?
• Have you overcome your fear?

You looked around the world for your power and found it not; you looked within and there it was!

Art of Selling

Sales are the lifeblood of any business.

No matter how good you are at selling, you can get better. Ask yourself where you can get better by reflecting on the following questions:

1. Do you know your customer well?

2. Are you delivering a memorable experience?

3. Have you identified your unique selling strength?

4. What is the process you use to tap into your selling potential?

5. What do you do to ensure that you are authentic when selling your products and services?

6. Do you genuinely care about your customer?

7. Have your mastered your emotions?

8. Do you persist till you succeed?

9. Do you increase the face-to-face meetings with your clients?

10. Do you get motivated instead of demotivated by every “No” you receive?

When you stop growing, your business stops growing. Therefore, make it your goal to get better and better every day in every way!

The Art of Listening!

Listening can help us build and strengthen relationships, solve problems, build understanding, resolve conflicts, reduce errors and improve accuracy. The following are seven ways to enhance the art of listening:

1. Give your full attention – Whatever you do, do it in totality. When you listen, then simply listen. Do not check your phone, or run mental errands, or gaze out of the window, or get lost in your thoughts.

2. Avoid interrupting the speaker – Sometimes we think that we know what the other is about to say and rush to complete their sentences. Sometimes the habit to interrupt is so ingrained, that we don’t even notice we are doing it. Interrupting the speaker is disrespectful.

3. Refrain from immediate reaction/judgment – Even if you disagree with everything that the speaker says, try to begin your conversation with something you can agree with.

4. Empathize – While we can never truly understand what the other is feeling, we can certainly imagine ourselves in their situation. Empathy is the essence of good listening. To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be them at that moment.

5. Desist from offering unsolicited advice – When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions unless asked.

6. Ask questions only to ensure understanding – Don’t ask questions to impress or divert the topic. Ensure your questions pertain to the topic of discussion.

7. Give feedback – An ideal conversation includes three primary components, constructive questions, unmistakable clarity on the main points, and a sharing of related stories that confirm mutual understanding. This is especially critical when dealing with future obligations or the way forward.

Sometimes silence is also an expression of understanding. Hence use your discretion to deliver the needed response to convey understanding.

Begin with, “Beyond”

Leaders that I have met throughout the world are seeking continuous improvement in their business, striving for the elusive balance between work and personal life, and searching for a deeper meaning and purpose to help them achieve happiness.

They are thus looking for harmony between Business,  Balance & Beyond.

In my view, the starting point is, to begin with, “Beyond”. This means defining what is it all about. Why business? Why this particular business? What if I became very rich what will change? Who am I? At the end of my life when I look back what will make me proud of my life? These are questions that define who you are, what you want, and why you want what you want. When you have this clarity and live your life aligned with this clarity,  you experience congruence and harmony.

I have created a 90-day personal scorecard where you set goals in six areas of your life just for the next 90 days. They include Spirituality (Beyond), Family, Health, Lifelong learning (Balance), Work/Career, Finance (Business). Why 90 days? When you have very long terms goals you tend to take it easy. When you have very short-term goals you seem to get into urgency and firefighting mode. 90 days is a good period but you have to align the 90-day goals with your long-term goals and break them down into monthly and weekly mini-goals to create harmony.

Feel free to create your own methods that work for you. Wisdom has to be practical and work for you for it to have an impact on your life.