“There are no right answers to wrong questions.”–Ursula K. Le Guin
Your Outcome: Learn how to ask “cutting” questions to instantly start helping you improve your results. By asking key questions, you can cut through the fog or cut to the chase and figure out what really counts.
Welcome to day 20 of 30 Days of Getting Results, based on my book, Getting Results the Agile Way. In day 19, we learned to ask the question, “Who are you doing it for?” to help us get clarity on why we are doing what we’re doing and whether it is really valued and who actually values it. This also helps us map the value better, whether it’s for ourselves or for somebody else. Today, we build on this approach of asking questions, to improve our results.
Asking cutting questions helps you improve your ability to work on the right things, with the right energy, at the right time, the right way … for YOUR BEST RESULTS.
Asking better questions is an ongoing process. The one who gains the most is you. Your ability to improve the questions you ask yourself will improve the quality of your life in all areas.
Why Ask Questions
Asking the right questions can help you balance, focus, make better decisions, and prioritize more effectively. Let’s elaborate on that:
- Asking the right questions leads us to better answers. If we think of thinking as a process of asking and answering questions, then to get better answers, we have to ask better questions. Think about that. Whether it’s your own self-talk or in a meeting, how powerful is it to ask the right question?
- Asking questions changes your focus. You can change your focus by changing your question, and this allows you to quickly switch perspectives or get a new lens on things. For example, by asking yourself “What’s right in your life?” you get a very different result than asking, “What’s wrong with your life?” Some people never ask themselves what’s right in their life, and they lose appreciation for what they’ve got, and they blow the bad things out of proportion.
- Direct your self-talk more effectively. Change your questions and you change your game. Rather than “tell” yourself to do things, you can ask more effective questions to get more resourceful. For example, “How might I solve this” or “What’s a good approach?” or “Who else shares this problem that I can learn from?” You can also get unstuck by switching gears from “Why” to “How” questions. For example, rather than ask, “Why does this always happen to me?”, ask yourself either, “What are you going to do about it?” or “How will you avoid this in the future?”
- Asking questions creates opportunity. If you want more conflict in your life, simply make more statements. Statements create conflict. Somebody can always argue with a statement. You can even argue with yourself. Switching to questions, opens up exploration.
- Questions create “ah-has.” When you ask questions, you can actually create emotional connections as you have your insight and “ah-ha” moments. These emotional links are more powerful than just raw information.
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why improving your questions can improve your everyday experience in a very practical way.
Quotes About Questions
Here are some of my favorite quotes about the value of asking good questions:
- “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.”—Unknown
- “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon
- “An answer is always a form of death.”—John Fowles
- “It is not every question that deserves an answer.” — Publilius Syrus
- “No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.” — Karl Otto von Schonhausen Bismarck
- “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” — Anthony Robbins
- “Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are.” – Publilius Syrus
- “The man who questions opinion is wise; the man who quarrels with fact is a fool.”–Frank A Garbutt
- “The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself.” –Ursula K. LeGuin
- “The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” —Antony Jay
- “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”—Lloyd Alexander
- “When we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions”.—Naguib Mahfouz
Questions for Improving Your Results
Here is a table of questions you can draw from to help you improve your results:
|Efficiency and Effectiveness||
|Goals and Objectives||
Use the table as a starting point, but the key is to find the questions that work for you and continue to add to your “question toolbox” over time. You’ll find that some questions will really empower you from getting unstuck, to finding solutions, to getting inspired, to figuring out your next best thing to do.
- Identify one question you can ask yourself that can help you get better results.
- Identify one question you need to stop asking yourself, so you can get better results. Find a more effective question you can replace the ineffective question with.
My Related Posts
- 30 Days of Getting Results
- Day 1 – Take a Tour of Getting Results the Agile Way
- Day 2 – Monday Vision – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Week
- Day 3 – Daily Outcomes – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Day
- Day 4 – Let Things Slough Off
- Day 5 – Hot Spots – Map Out What’s Important
- Day 6 – Friday Reflection – Identify Three Things Going Well and Three Things to Improve
- Day 7 – Setup Boundaries and Buffers
- Day 8 – Dump Your Brain to Free Your Mind
- Day 9 – Prioritize Your Day with MUST, SHOULD, and COULD
- Day 10 – Feel Strong All Week Long
- Day 11 – Reduce Friction and Create Glide Paths for Your Day
- Day 12 – Productivity Personas – Are You are a Starter or a Finisher?
- Day 13 – Triage Your Action Items with Skill
- Day 14 – Carve Out Time for What’s Important
- Day 15 – Achieve a Peaceful Calm State of Mind
- Day 16 – Use Metaphors to Find Your Motivation
- Day 17 – Add Power Hours to Your Week
- Day 18 – Add Creative Hours to Your Week
- Day 19 – Who are You Doing it For?