I’m a huge believer that the quality of your life and leadership is the direct result of the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions, you get good answers and good direction. Ask lame questions, you get lame directions. Ask no questions at all, and you’ll soon be the blind bleeding the blind.
Here are seven daily questions any leader, parent, or achiever can ask quickly to zero in on the most effective use of your time and life. Answering any three daily can quickly shape your day and your influence. Aligning the answers to all seven daily can revolutionize it.
This little collection uses the classic “five W’s and an H – who what, when where, why and how – with an added little bonus – an “if” question.
1. Who is most depending on me for decisive action today?
Don’t be the reason somebody has to wait or flounder. Don’t waste your time “helping” somebody that doesn’t need your help. Focus on the individual or group that sees you as their irreplaceable solution to moving forward.
2. What matters most in this moment?
This involves a convergence of the urgent and the important. Sometimes the most significant thing you can do is put out a brush fire or rush to meet a deadline. At other times the most significant thing you can do is ignore all the distracting whines and growls and focus on a long-term issue or goal.
3. When do I take action and when do I wait?
This is the discernment question and it’s more an art than a science. Taking action too soon can lead to dwarfed development of your team or reckless decisions. Taking action too late can lead to missed opportunities or frustrated customers or team members.
4. Where will we wind up if we keep going in the same direction?
This fundamental question calls for foresight and some big-time maturity. Immature leaders or team members assume they can follow an irresponsible path and still somehow magically arrive at their desired destination. Mature leaders recognize that if you want to arrive in a certain place, you and your team need to forge or follow a path in that direction.
5. Why are we here (what is our purpose), and how can I best be an example of it?
You’d think this one would be obvious. You’d be thinking incorrectly. People in organizational life, even leaders, tend to chase goals that serve them individually, not the vision or mission of the organization. No one is more of a steward of the organization’s vision than the leader(s) of it.
6. How can we succeed by helping someone else succeed?
We are hard-wired to pursue success through the sale. Let’s do something to talk somebody out of their money or time in exchange for something we have to offer. But the greater victory, both as an organization and as a leader within it, is to help others define and deliver success in their terms. I dare you to do that consistently, and see what kind of transformation you experience as a leader.
7. If I was “put here for such a time as this,” what can I do today that no one else can do as well?
Like Queen Esther in the Bible, you are where you are for a purpose – even if it’s temporary. In recognizing the unique times and seasons for the places you occupy, what if you assumed that God has uniquely placed you in that situation? What if you assumed that you had a unique role – as does everyone else in your organization – and decided to own that role as your own before God? Think that could make a difference?
There are others, of course. But these seven questions, applied daily, could drastically increase your success both as an individual and as a leader. Give it a shot. I’d love to hear of your results.
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