The Quality of Your Life = The Quality of Your Questions


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

The inspiration for writing this post is actually a Tony Robbins quote I came across a few times now in my recent readings.  It’s an extremely valuable statement because it shapes the lives we lead every day.   If we don’t change our questions, and direction, we are likely to end up where we are going.

So that we may better understand the two directions available to each of us, lets look at conflicting lifestyles and frame both viewpoints with the questions each asks.

Let me tell you about the “wanters.”

Life happens to these people.  Here is what their questions sound like:

  • Why me?
  • Why can’t I do this?
  • Why does my boss hate me?
  • Why can’t my parents just be wealthy and leave me a big inheritance?
  • How is it I never have enough time?
  • Why does he get a raise, and I never make any more money?
  • What can I do to be more lucky?
  • Why do I have to learn this?
  • How can I provide as little effort as possible and still get paid?

A strong “victim” pattern exists to the style and direction of these questions.  There is little to no control.  Please read through each of these questions again and take a deep breath.  I’ve asked these questions too.  It doesn’t make us bad people, we were just ignorant to what else was out there.

The cure for ignorance is curiosity.

That said, what questions can you ask to get more out of your life, career, or business starting today?  Here are some I’ve learned over the years.  Ask, and a better life awaits you.

  • Why not me?
  • Why not now?
  • What more can I learn?  (What don’t I know, that I should know)
  • How can I provide more value to differentiate myself, my product or my company?
  • What can I learn from his/her success?
  • What does success look like?
  • What more can I do to help?
  • What do I want from life?
  • What can I say “NO” to?

What did you notice?

There is a strong pattern of “ownership” in this question pattern.  I could keep going, but instead I found this wonderful link on Forbes.  35 Questions That Will Change Your Life.   There are categories and I found the “Self Awareness” grouping the most insightful.  I really encourage you to dive into the list when you’re done reading.  There will be a couple “frying pan to the face” moments with at least two questions you read.  That’s what we’re looking for!

I ask three questions to myself and my wife frequently to evaluate who we are,  where we are, and where we’re going.  Life moves fast, and believe it or not people and goals change over the years.  Use these three question to reset your course, or provide better direction along your journey.

Three Powerful Questions For a Lifetime of Fulfillment:

  1. What are my world-class talents? (can’t have more than three) – WHO AM I?
  2. What achievements make me really happy, fulfilled, or satisfied? – WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING?
  3. What do I really want from life? – WHY?

The questions aren’t the hard part.  It’s the brutal honesty required in the answers and actions that sets believers apart from achievers.  Side note, if you really want a ton of money to buy expensive clothes and drive a Ferrari, be honest.  Do NOT lie about who you are or what you want.  It will either slow you down immensely or set you back.  Be honest and own it.

“Change the questions you ask yourself and change the direction of your life” – Tony Robbins

ACTION ITEM:  For me the art of asking the right questions is an acquired skill.  Skills are developed over time.  Personally I feel I’m a few levels away from my black belt in asking the right questions so I continue to practice.  Every day I try and change the angle of a conversation with a  better question.  Think first, then ask and don’t forget to listen.

Two of My Favorite Questions for Leaders

The more I read, the more I learn about the highest achievers asking better questions than the rest of their peers.  So I continued to think about my favorite questions to ask, and I had to share with the group as these two questions have helped my career a great deal.

Question 1 – What does success look like?

Here are the reasons I love this question:

  1. It gets to the root of what your client is really looking to achieve.  Be specific.  How much? By when? What will you feel like when you get there?
  2. If you don’t know what success is, how on Earth can you come back in the future to discuss other ventures?
  3. I’ll admit, sometimes my version of success didn’t align with my client’s version.  Here’s a tip – their version is more important. 
  4. Understanding what success looks like may open up other opportunities to your relationship.
  5. Case studies sell.  Understanding what success is will help you with the before and after story for your case study.
  6. Success can be losing weight, hitting a revenue target, reducing production time, or growing market share.  Whatever it is can provide a strong point of focus for an entire team.  When the entire team knows what success is, there is a much higher likelihood of achievement.

Lastly, here are a couple versions of how I would ask this question:

  • If we were to partner up on “said agreement”, can you please tell me what success looks like three months down the road?
  • What does success look like for someone in your shoes?
  • Six months down the road, tell me what a successful partnership looks like in your eyes?

Question 2 – What more can I do for you?

Here are the reasons I love this question:

  1. Asking it with sincerity means you care.  If you care, your chances for winning go up exponentially and your relationship will thrive.
  2. It shows you’re not just a hired gun.  Don’t get me wrong, doing your job/task is super important.  Asking what more can be done is CRUSHING IT with your client.
  3. If you were a personal trainer and asked this question, it means you believe in your client outside of your 45-60 minute paid sessions.  It means you’ll be there for them for the long run.
  4. In the example above, I asked you to be specific.  In this example, I recommend being generic.  Don’t lead the witness to their problems or challenges.  Sometimes there could be a great deal of fear involved.  Let them tell you.  Respect and empathy will be earned by listening genuinely.
  5. Ask those you work with.  Note, I didn’t say “work for you.” Chances are they make your life better.  What can you do to make their lives better?

There is only one recommendation I can think of in regard to this question.  Do it frequently and do it with sincerity.

While reading Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!, I came upon chapter 8.  Very telling for this post.  By the way, if you’re looking for a book to crush in 2015, the principles Tony teaches WILL help you.

Questions Are The Answer

Questions are the Answer

ACTION ITEM: I’d love it if you started using these two questions to your benefit this week.  I’d place a sizable bet, you’ll be encountered with the opportunity to ask one or both of these in the very near future.  Make the most of it!