questions

communication, Change, leadership

The Power of a Question (2 min read)

Throughout history there have been some profound and powerful questions.

In 1938 Bud Abbot and Lou Costello famously asked, “Who’s on first?”

In 1957 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

During his inaugural speech in 1961, John F. Kennedy told Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

In 1969 Tootsie-Roll asked, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?” and in 2000 Lil’ Kim and Sisqo revisited that same question in a verrrry different context with their hit song, “How Many Licks”.

According to Shakespeare, “To be or not to be” was THE question, and French philosopher Voltaire implored us to “Judge a person by their questions rather than their answers.”

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins summarized why it’s important that we ask thoughtful questions when he said, “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

At the end of my communication workshops I tell the audience, “A natural close after you’ve taught something is to ask, “Are there any questions?” But what is the difference, however, if instead I were to say, “What questions do you have? What changed?”

[The point being that we can use language in the context of a well-articulated question to remove barriers to communication.]

Yesterday Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) asked Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh a simple yet immensely powerful question,

“Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?”

There's removing barriers, and then there is asking something which clearly conveys an unspoken message. There are no government laws regulating men’s bodies.

“No question is so difficult to answer as that for which the answer is obvious.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Our capacity to make an impact hinges on our ability to ask powerful questions - of ourselves, and of others.

As you head into your day, think about the questions that you ask, and then ask yourself if you can think of better questions.

Stay curious, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                

Do You Suck or Are You Due?

Let’s set the stage: Major League Baseball is featuring Game 3 of the National League Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The series is tied 1-1 and it’s the top of the 2nd inning. The score is 0-0 with two outs and runners on 1st and 2nd as Yasmani Grandal steps up to the plate for the Dodgers.

A stat pops up on the screen and the announcers tell us that Mets fans have something to cheer about as Grandal is a whopping 0-22 when at bat with runners in scoring position.

My friend’s Dad, an ex-Dodger himself, says “Alright Bets, 0 for 22… does he suck or is he due?”

The optimist inside me screamed, “He’s DUUUUUE!!” and was promptly punched in the gut by the reality of 0 for 22. Reality told me 0 for 22 was bad. Really bad.  If I knew nothing about baseball and you asked me if I wanna put a guy at bat who hasn’t driven in a run the last 22 times he’s had the opportunity I’d think you were crazy.

0 for 22. Does he suck or is he due?

The pitcher wound up and Grandal answered our question with a bullet through the gap to drive in both runners. He was DUE!

The Mets went on to win Game 3 but I can’t stop thinking about Grandal and the question, “Does he suck or is he due?”

The poor guy failed 22 times before he succeeded in driving in a run.  With the weight of going 0 for 22 staring him in the face, something in Grandal defied the odds and changed the game.

Think about it - in Grandal’s situation it would be sooooo easy to suck. So simple to get up there, take your cuts, and sit down at 0 for 23. I mean what’s one more of the same when 22 tries have all told you “you can’t.”

Now think about this – what an incredible difference it would make to think with every failure that you’re now one step closer to success.

0 for 22 is a lot of failure. 0 for 22 makes a strong case for sucking. And, 0 for 22 is a helluva stage for success.

Think about where you’ve been failing recently. What is it you arguably suck at? Where is it uncomfortable to go right now? What could happen that hasn’t yet?

The choice is up to you if you suck or if you’re due.

Let’s change the game ;)