Asking great questions: the power of purposeful living

Last month I was helping my parents with their new business venture, and I started out by asking them a few questions: Who are your clients? Where are they? Can you describe your ideal client in detail, what does she like to do, how does she like to spend her money, etc? We spent 30 minutes in this Q&A exercise, and quickly realized that many decisions made in designing their brand new website, their branding and even logo and name would not work for the clients they were trying to reach. This was a simple exercise but the outcome critical for the success of their business.

Similarly, in our lives, the questions we ask have the power to direct our attention to answers that supply us with resources, or, that on the other side of the spectrum, drain away resources from us. A draining question is typically condition-based – it implies that there is a problem and that the solving of the problem itself is the answer to all things. Yet, life giving questions that set us into a more purposeful direction although able to resolve the condition, are not limited by it. In this case, the question is vision-based. Our vision has the power to resolve the present time problems, but does so in a positive manner. What I mean by this is that a vision is not a collection of something ‘better than’ what is currently present. Instead, a vision is a version of our lives, or business, in which every aspect of our being is complete, happy, fulfilled. There is no comparing to something else and therefore it is not simply just ‘better than’ the past. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

Let’s take finances as an example. If you are struggling to pay your bills, it is likely that the predominant question in your mind looks like this: how do I pay my bills? How do I make enough money to get through this month, and maybe next? etc. You can see that these questions are 100% about the problem – not having money. You can also see that the question typically refers to the problem as a target. In this case, enough money means the amount that covers the bills, but no more. But the same person may have a vision – an idea about herself that is completely different to the condition. In this vision, there is abundance and the presence of struggle is dismissed. In this state of mind, this person is now asking a different question: what opportunities are available to me to me today to help me be in alignment with this vision? By its very nature, this question leaves an opening, and answers revolve around possibilities rather than struggle.

I remember an article I read at an International United Airlines flight that struck a chord exactly because, in a subtle way it spoke to the power of this. In the cover of the magazine there was a picture of an Indian woman (I actually do not recall her name) and a title mentioning she was one of the wealthiest people in India. I opened the magazine and read through this article, which described how a low-cast woman in India, slowly and surely climbed her way up from total poverty to huge success. The article mentions that, like her, girls in the lowest cast have very little chance to become anything in life other than wives, and house keepers. But for this little girl, there was a vision, filled by a boring desire to live an abundant life. She matched her gifts as a sewer and her burning desire to succeed and eventually she made it from maid to CEO of a fashion clothing manufacturer.

When we hear or read stories like this we like to tell ourselves that, ‘she got lucky,’ or  that ‘she must be especially gifted.’ But the truth is, what made her go from scarcity to abundance was a desire to move toward greatness. In this state of mind, she focused her attention on opportunities, and then acted upon them as if her dream was going to happen. She believed it was possible and instead of focusing on what she did not have, or what could be ‘better than’ she went for the big dream. All of us can do that. But, the frats and most important step is this: what questions are you asking everyday? Change the question, change the focus, change your life! xo