101 Questions that Empower You



“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” — Voltaire

Are you asking the right questions that empower you?

Inspiring minds want to know.

Empowering questions help you take action.  Tony Robbins defines power as “the ability to take action.”  It’s a simple, yet profound way to look at your language and challenge the words you choose and the questions you ask.

By asking empowering questions, you inspire yourself to action, gain better perspective, or help you make the most of any situation.

The right question can be just the right prompt to help you move in a better direction.

Here is a set of 101 empowering questions, my favorite questions, that I draw from whether it’s to shape my day, solve a problem, figure out next steps, or get “on path.”

  1. What’s the way forward? (it’s a big question, but it reminds me to cut a path through the forest of ambiguity and chaos)
  2. What do you want your life to be about?
  3. Who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create?
  4. How does that serve you in terms of who you are and who you want to be?
  5. Are you giving your best where you have your best to give?
  6. What do you want to accomplish?
  7. What do you want to do more of each day? … What do you want to spend your time doing more of?
  8. What do you want to spend less time on?
  9. If this situation were to never change, what’s the one quality I need to truly enjoy it?
  10. If not now, when?
  11. If not you, who?
  12. What’s right with this picture? (if you always ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?”, this is a nice switch)
  13. How can you make the most of the situation? … If there are no good options, what’s the best play I can make for this scenario?
  14. Who else shares this problem? … Who would solve this problem well? (a great way to find models and learn from the best)
  15. What would <famous or interesting person XYZ> do?” … How would I respond if I were Bob Hope? … Leonardo da Vinci? … Guy Kawasaki? … Seth Godin? … etc. (this is a great way to come up with new ideas or plays for your situation)
  16. What are you pointing your camera at? (a simple way to direct your day on a scene by scene basis)
  17. What’s good enough for now?
  18. What can you be the best at in the world?
  19. What’s the most effective thing for me to focus on?
  20. Are you asking the right question? … Is that the right question?
  21. How is that relevant?
  22. What’s that based on?
  23. What’s the goal? … What are the goals?
  24. What would success look like?
  25. What do you need to be successful? … What do you need to be successful in this situation?
  26. Is it working? … Is it effective?
  27. What do you measure? … What are the metrics?
  28. What are the tests for success?
  29. How do you know it’s working?
  30. How do you know when you’re done?
  31. What did you expect?
  32. Are you creating the results you want?
  33. Does it matter?
  34. Will it matter in 100 years?
  35. Is it worth the effort?
  36. What actions have I taken? … What steps have I tried? ( a great sanity check when you’re testing your ability to take action)
  37. What’s next?
  38. What do you want to do?
  39. What’s best for you?
  40. What’s the best thing for now?
  41. What’s your next best thing to do?
  42. Is that a good idea?
  43. So what? Now what?
  44. What’s the problem?
  45. What’s the threat?
  46. What’s the concern?
  47. When do you want it by? … You want what by when?
  48. Who needs to do what when?
  49. Who needs to do what differently?
  50. Who should do what when?
  51. What would you have them do differently?
  52. What’s wearing you down?
  53. What’s lifting you up?
  54. Why do you get up in the morning and come to work?
  55. What do you want to experience? … What do you want to experience more of?
  56. What are you trading? … What are you trading up for?
  57. What did you learn that you can use next time?
  58. What would you do differently next time around?
  59. Where’s the growth?
  60. What would people pay you for?
  61. Do you want to run towards or away from the problem?
  62. How big is the pie, how big is your slice?
  63. Does it make business sense?
  64. Is it business critical?
  65. What’s our capacity?
  66. What’s our constraint?
  67. What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
  68. What’s our core business?
  69. What does the market want?
  70. Is it push, pull or indifferent?
  71. What’s the trend?
  72. What to cut back on?
  73. What does the pro know that you don’t? (this is a good way to figure out if knowledge or insight can make a difference)
  74. Now what are you going to do about it?
  75. Can you teach it to someone else?
  76. How can I use this?
  77. What do you want to say?
  78. What’s the right thing to do?
  79. Is now the right time?
  80. Is this the right forum?
  81. How much time do you have?
  82. What are you making time for?
  83. How much time should you make for it?
  84. What can you do all day long?
  85. What are you spending the bulk of your time on?
  86. Does your schedule reflect your priorities?
  87. If you had all the time in the world, how would you spend your time?
  88. If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend it?
  89. Where are we on the map?
  90. What would make life more wonderful for you?
  91. How can you chunk it down?
  92. How fast can you do it?
  93. What’s the impact?
  94. What would you like to have happen? … What would you like instead?
  95. What’s the opposite of that?
  96. How might that be true?
  97. What are you seeing that I’m not?
  98. What did you see, what did you hear?
  99. What’s the writing on the wall?
  100. What’s their story?
  101. Who’s stopping you? … What’s stopping you? … What’s holding you back?

What questions drive you? … Share your favorite question in the comments.

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  1. again..thanks jd! will pick the ones that are most applicable to me now and as lance said propel myself forward..:)

  2. Hi J.D. I love this list of questions. Absolutely perfect for me to think about on my long flight to the States for BlogWorld. Nothing like a journey of self-discovery is there?!

    Plus questions have been on my mind because I’ve cheekily asked to interview a few Top bloggers promising to ask them only three questions. Some have said yes so now I have to pick three questions. Yikes! I like these:

    What are you spending the bulk of your time on?
    Where do you spend most of your time?
    What does success mean to you personally
    What would you do differently next time?
    Who inspires and motivates you?

    Hmm, what are The 3 Most Important Questions in the World? That might make a good post too. Thanks so much for writing and getting me thinking great things every time I swing by here:)

  3. Hi J.D. — “what are you pointing the camera at” sounds like it would lead to some great insights. For example, if we recognize we’re “pointing the camera at” — training our attention on — say, the criticism we might get from others and how it might hurt, perhaps training the camera on what we can contribute to others instead might serve us.

  4. @ Lance — Thank you. A short list is good. One of my short set is always, “Am I asking the right question?”

    @ Riza — Questions are the perfect catalyst … enjoy.

    @ Annabel — Thank you. I especially like your question — “What does success mean to you personally?” That’s where people can set themselves for success or never meet their own bar.

    If I could only ask three questions, I might ask:
    1. Why do you do what you do?
    2. What do you do differently that makes you unique?
    3. What did you learn that surprised you?

    @ Chris — Beautiful example of how what you point the camera at changes the impact. Training our attention is one of the best skills we can build, and questions are one of the best ways to direct our attention.

  5. Hey JD, really thorough list. My favorites are 56 and 67, with 15 being my utmost favorite. I think putting ourselves in other people’s shoes is a great way to learn how to handle situations in new and different ways.

    Keep up the great work with the blog!

  6. @ Steven — Thank you. I agree — perspectives, views, viewpoints, and vantage points make all the difference in how resourceful we can be.

  7. Bookmarked this post as I have 8,000 pages of reading for the next month and figuring out if folks spent their grant money well…

    I have a wee problem with #18….I don’t believe I can be the best at anything in the world….and I’m pretty Damn good at many, many things…this question give me the perfectionism heebee geebees

    Another great job, JD Thank you

  8. Wow, JD, such wonderful and thought-provoking questions. And, so many of them! 🙂

    I ask myself #78 “Is now the right time” when I’m expecting something to happen and it doesn’t meet my expectations. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be or was not the right time. I’m a firm believer in taking personal responsibility for my actions, but I tend to also believe ‘what will be, will be’.

    I also asked myself this one, just this morning: “#54 Why do you get up in the morning and come to work?” I haven’t got a good answer for that one 🙂

    Thanks for gathering so many empowering questions.


  9. Haha, I love how triumphant that kid looks. It looks like he’s ready to take on anything in the world.

    I love the list of questions. One of the ways that I think we learn most about ourselves is to ask questions of ourselves. It’s why I believe writing a journal is important because it gives us a more unbiased view of who we are. Cool stuff 🙂

  10. @ Karen — Thank you.

    It took me a while to realize that now is not always the right time … and an analyst told me to think about it like this … “Sometimes the market just isn’t ready.” That helped.

    I think you’ll find my next post has some of the crucial keys for addressing #54 🙂

    @ Niko — He sure does, and that is a great way to start each day.

    Asking questions can work wonders, especially if we find the right questions that give us a new lens.

  11. @ Patricia — Thank you. One way to tackle the best in THE world question is to reframe it as the best in YOUR world. This narrows the focus to the people who depend on you in your life. Maybe your skill is the synergy that comes from being good at many things and taking a holistic approach.

  12. Hi JD .. I think of your rocks, stone and sand story .. three things to do today .. I like #1 and #2 .. & #3 .. and then how can I help myself? .. I am moving forward probably faster than is apparent .. but seems slow! Still I will get there ..

    Great list and comments to come back to and utilise .. thanks – Hilary

  13. @ Hilary — Thank you. I figured if I put those vital few questions at the top, the rest are bonus. Actually, most of the questions are scenario-based. For example, if you’re really in a stuck situation, then one of the best questions to ask is, “What’s the one quality I need to make the most of this?”

  14. JD,

    These are all great questions to ask ourselves! I kept trying to pick my favorite one as I read and they just kept getting better, so I honestly have to go with the very last one:

    “Who’s stopping you? … What’s stopping you? … What’s holding you back?”

    This is probably the best question to ask ourselves. Is it something you really want to do? Will it make you happy? Then, “Who’s stopping you? … What’s stopping you? … What’s holding you back?”

    Thanks for the list!

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  19. I do daily journaling and writing, and I am currently working my way through this list of questions. I’m up to question #20 as of today. This has been a great list to work from and has helped me to glean many insights from my life, attitudes, and desires. I plan to make it all the way through the list. Thanks for compiling this. Daily writing can sometimes get monotonous but having a list like this sure helps keep it fresh.

    • Changing our questions is probably the quickest way to change our answers and, in effect, change our game from the mundane to the magnificent.

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