‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall…’ – Be sure to ask the right questions

International coaching expert and Neuroscience practitioner Dr Bill Price shares on why it’s important to ask the right questions as you look at yourself in the mirror.

If Snow White’s stepmother taught us one good thing, it’s this: we must look in the mirror daily, and ask a question. Unlike her though, I am convinced that to be successful in life you need to ask the right questions, focusing on the core issues and being prepared for truthful answers!

Asking questions is one of the fields of expertise of any qualified and professional coach and mentor. Einstein discovered the theory of relativity by asking the core question, “If I sat on the edge of a light beam and travelled at the speed of light, how …?” and we all appreciate that e=mc2 was the result of his ability to interact with questions.

The brain finds and selects information based on how a question is phrased. For instance, if we ask “What is wrong with this picture?” or “What is the problem?” the brain has to go to the problem, collect the data and then show everything it could find on the screen, without emphasising one point. If however, if we ask “what three things can we change to make the process better, faster, more productive…?” the brain collects data, but filters through the options and comes up with three possibilities for us to work with.

The challenge comes after we have asked the questions. What do we do with the answers we find and how do we integrate them with the solutions and the findings? This is exactly where a professional and proficient business and life coach adds amazing amounts of value in terms of facilitating clarity of thought that can be applied to the situations leaders and managers face in today’s real-time world of business.

Try and ask yourself the right questions during a quality-time session with yourself, when you are alone and there are no disturbances.

The art is to ask the question, find the answer and then take it to the next level by applying the answer to the situation and then ask another set of questions. When we train managers to be coach-managers we teach them advanced questioning techniques and they can cluster up, down, laterally and in an integrated way, to help coachees to come to prioritised conclusions for application to problems.

Mirror mirror on the wall

An effective manager and leader is a person who asks powerful, focused and challenging questions. Here are some of the questions coaches ask managers, in order to get to the solutions they seek:

Questions for managers

  • What kinds of information would I need to make my decisions the kind of quality-decisions they need to be?
  • Am I aware of the kind of information that I and then my subordinates need to have in order to do quality work around here?
  • When I have the information, how long do I wait and what do I do with the information during this time, before I actually make the decision? What does this tell me about my convincing strategy?
  • How am I ‘doing change’ within my organisation / unit? What is the pace like and how is this experienced by those whom I manage and lead? What are the results and impacts on focused productivity?
  • What criteria do I use to pass judgements on proposals made to me by my subordinates? Is this effective and sufficient and can I always use the same criteria for all proposals?
  • How do I balance out independence with interdependence in my team?
  • How does this help or hinder the focused performance and profitability of a team as a whole?
  • What is the evidence I see, feel, and hear and experience that tells me that I have articulated the vision to my team in understandable ways? Do they know what the definitions and tool-bars are of the words I use to describe my strategy, intentions and expectations? In other words, are we all seeing the same picture and the same version of the picture?
  • Is there evidence to substantiate the fact that my professional business relationship with my team has shifted to a ‘kind of friendship’ and am I hoping that this will motivate them to do their jobs effectively? When I compare this evidence with what I actually have to do, namely be professional and ‘come down on them and manage the results of the contract we have with them’, what’s different for me on the ‘inside’?
  • What aspects of my work can I ask my PA to handle for me?
  • How do the everyday pressures and challenges affect my time and priority management? Do I have a clearly defined purpose and am I well connected to the process of orchestrating my time rather than managing it? What is the evidence that demands a verdict in this regard?
  • If I could track my mood swings today, what description would I give myself? What does that tell me about how connected I am to my feelings, emotions and intelligences?
  • Based on this evidence, how effective was I with others in my team and with the end results of their work required by me?
  • How do I handle key problems? Do I know the difference between key problems and ordinary problems? Is my response different and relevant to these? Do my team know the difference and how to respond? Do we know who to and when to go for help?
  • Do I focus mainly on face to face communications and how does this affect others in my team with whom I do not have one-on-one time with?
  • How do I make time and opportunity to inter-act with people to “be there” in real-time ways for them and with them?
  • Do I know the three things that motivate each one of my direct reports to do exceptional work? Do I know three things I need to pay attention to when leading and managing these folks so that they will give me their “best versions” of performance? 
  • Do I know the four values, the things that are important to my direct reports in life and work and do I use these to create quality interactions with them?
  • How do I pay attention to life balance and work balance? What is my partner and spouse saying to me and what does this mean?
  • Am I taking my team to the right places with-in the work context? Am I paying attention to their personal development planning criteria in time and on time?
  • How can I turn my obligations and duties into an advantage?

Questions for you

Ask yourself the right questions. Our quality of life is based on what we focus on. The following questions are designed to cause you to experience more happiness, excitement, pride, gratitude, joy, commitment, and love every day of your life. Remember, quality questions create a quality life.

7 Personal Morning Power Questions 

Come up with two or three answers to all these questions ((taken from the world of NLP) and feel fully associated. If you have difficulty finding or formulating an answer, simply add the word ‘could.’ Example: What could I be most happy about in my life now?

  1. What am I happy about in my life now? – What about that makes me feel good? How does that make me feel?
  2. What am I excited about now in my life? What about that makes me excited? How does that make me feel?
  3. What am I pleased about in my life now? What about that makes me proud? How does that make me feel?
  4. What do I appreciate in my life now? What about that makes me grateful? How does that make me feel?
  5. What am I enjoying most in my life right now? What about that makes me content? How does that make me feel?
  6. What I am committed to right now? What about that makes me committed? How does that make me feel?
  7. Who do I love? Who loves me? What about that makes me loving? How does that make me feel?

I follow this exercise personally. Sometimes, I repeat the Morning Questions in the evening and sometimes I ask an additional three questions. They are:

3 Evening Power Questions

  • What have I given today? In what ways have I been a giver today?
  • What did I learn today?
  • How has today added to the quality of my life or how can I use today as an investment in my future?

(Repeat the morning questions if you wish)

The power of these questions is undeniable. The more we ask them and others, the more meaningful discoveries we will make. As both Einstein and the Wicked Step Mom discovered, everything is relative. Ask the right questions and bring perspective! The proviso is of course that we ask core, positive and real-time questions that will take us to the solutions rather than just to the problems and the complexities linked to them.

If you would like to get in touch with Dr Price to find out more about life coaching or how to ask the right questions, please email inspired@drbillprice.com

Also read: Forget the small stuff – discover your greater purpose in life

Bill Price

Dr Bill Price is an international speaker, author and executive coach. Dr Price is based in South Africa where he is well known as a leading Neuroscience practitioner and strategic sage who guides individuals, businesspeople and corporate leaders to achieve their full potential. He also helps empowers people in their personal lives around the themes, of leadership, getting the most out of life and relationships. Consider participating in one of Dr Bill Price's coaching courses or consider attending one of his free 'Synapses'. These neuroscience based webinars are held twice a month over Zoom dealing with a variety of different topics.

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