We all know the power of the right question.
Questions help us change our perspective, think anew or challenge our assumptions.
Asking the right question can change the way a product is developed or how a business decides its strategy.
Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time obsessing over questions to understand their customers better or tweak their commercial proposition into something that’s a sure-fire hit.
But what about the questions we ask ourselves? How do questions unlock the hidden answers that might be in our subconscious or we simply haven’t answered yet?
There’s no shortage of suggestions out there for questions you might want to ask yourself, or the number and frequency of them.
There’s 3 important questions to ask yourself every day, 5 important questions, 10 questions, 14 questions or even 18 questions. If you want to go even bigger there’s suggestions for 30 thought provoking questions you should ask yourself every day or even 101 important questions to ask yourself – this time mercifully without a timescale involved.
Some of the more profound suggestions for a single question to ask yourself each day include:
Who am I and what do I stand for?
How can I grow today?
They’re all great questions, no doubt. But can you really get to answering all these without a long holiday or an awful lot of spare time on your hands? You might think that your most frequent questions tend to be “how am I going to get home with this level of transport disruption?” or “what can I cook for dinner that takes less than 15 minutes?”.
In her excellent book “Multipliers”, Liz Wiseman suggests that the most effective strategy on this theme is to hold a single question for a long time – the same principle as becoming expert in something by practising consistently over a lifetime. She posed one question to herself (“How is what I know getting in the way of what I don’t know”) for a year.
She offers similar examples of annual questions that leaders can ask of themselves, including the deceptively simple but effective: “How can I multiply the intelligence of others?”.
“Asking these questions once or twice is interesting” she says. “Continuing to ask them again and again during the course of a year (or longer) creates deep learning and builds the hours of practice necessary to achieve mastery”.
Perhaps asking ourselves one consistent question for a year, is the right question to ask.