Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t I (fill in the blank)?” It could be “Why can’t I lose 10 pounds? ; or “Why can’t I hit this golf ball consistently?” ; or “Why can’t I be happy?” All legitimate questions, but is that what we really want to know when we ask them? When we ask, “why can’t I lose 10 pounds?, are we really looking for all the reasons why or is our end goal to figure out how to lose 10 pounds? The questions we ask ourselves can literally be the difference between success and failure, action and inaction and even happiness and unhappiness.
By asking the right questions we not only ensure higher quality answers, but we also raise our overall energy level to a place where we can positively act on the answers we receive.
So what is a quality question? The answer really depends on the context in which the question is asked. A scientific experiment on weight loss may ask “why can’t you lose 10 pounds?”, to gather data about what makes it difficult for people to lose weight. In this case, that question is a quality question because the end goal is to gather historical data. If, however, you are looking to drop 10 pounds, how much quality is there in asking why you can’t? What kind of answers are you going to get when you ask that? Your brain is the most powerful computer in the world. It will seek and return answers to any questions you ask it. So, when you ask it why you can’t lose 10 pounds, you will definitely get answers, but how much do you want to hear them? You might get answers like,” you hate to exercise”, or “you don’t have the self discipline to do what has to be done”, or my personal favorite, “everyone in your family is overweight, that’s just the way you are.” Wow, now that’s inspiring! Grab a bag of Doritos and read through the laundry list of your self -perceived flaws. But watch what happens when we change our question to a quality question like, “How do I lose 10 pounds?” The answers that come back address the solution, not the problem. We start to get answers like, “You love your dog, take him for a walk every day”, or “drink more water”, or “get skim milk in your lattes.” Now that’s something you can sink your teeth into (rather than the bag of Doritos). Follow that empowering question with another like, “how do I ensure I drink more water?” and now you start getting viable positive action steps to lose 10 pounds. The questions make all the difference.
There is more benefit to asking the right questions than the quality of the answers we receive. It also directs the focus of our attention on the solution rather than the problem. Whatever we focus our attention on in life grows stronger. It is much more powerful to focus our attention on solutions than the problem itself. Empowering questions steer that focus toward solutions. It raises our energy level because we see possibilities. Rather than returning a laundry list of what’s wrong with us, our brain gives us hope and a sense of control over our destiny by giving us new and creative ways to move our life in the direction we desire.
Virtually every question can be turned on its head to yield an empowering question. Stay away from asking yourself why and focus on questions that start with how or what. The difference might seem subtle, however, your results will be anything but. Change your questions and change your life. I think that payoff it worth the effort.