Quality Questions

What is a question? How powerful are questions?
Over the past couple of months I have read books and heard speakers expand on the power of questions. Well know and respected authors and speakers such as John Maxwell, Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell, James Clear and Michael A. Singer all preach the power of great questions. The general consensus is the better the quality of the question, the greater the chances you will experience the befits of a quality answer and uncover new and meaningful distinctions.
Google the word “question” and you will run across the following definition:
ques·tion – a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information.
So, if the goal or intent of a question is to elicit information is it a safe to conclude, the better the question, the better the answer?
Here is a personal example of a distinction that I uncovered last week while I was in West Palm Beach for Date with Destiny. In the past, after something happened to me I would react and ask myself, “What can I do or what do need to do about this?” Instead my new question is, “What does this mean and what can I learn from this?” The first question causes me to act or react while the second challenges me to think and reflect. Both can lead to the same action or outcome.
Asking “What can I do or what do need to do about this?” infers that something must be done and action must be taken. It’s something I, and many others, have been struggling with much of my life. It makes us reactionary. What if no action is required?
Asking “What does this mean and what can I learn from this?” gives me time to process and take a more meaningful and thoughtful action. It causes me to dig deeper. It’s the difference between acting and reaction. It allows me to be intentional.
Asking good questions has many applications. It allows us to set ourselves up to see things with an open mind and heart. They also calibrate our lenses and open us up to possibilities our old questions or bad questions closed us off to.
Are you ready to go a little deeper into the power of questions and go back in time to 400 BC? Here we go…
Socrates (469-399 B.C.) was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited with laying the fundamentals of modern Western philosophy. He is known for creating Socratic irony,  the Socratic method and Socratic questioning.



Socratic questions(SQ) utilized an educational method that focused on discovering answers by asking questions from his students. Socrates believed that “the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enables the scholar/student to examine ideas and be able to determine the validity of those ideas”.

Plato, a student of Socrates, described his rigorous method of teaching to explain that the teacher assumes an ignorant mindset in order to compel the student to assume the highest level of knowledge. Thus, a student has the ability to acknowledge contradictions, recreate inaccurate or unfinished ideas and critically determine necessary thought.

Socratic questioning is a form of disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we do not know, to follow out logical consequences of thought or to control discussions. Socratic questioning is based on the foundation that thinking has structured logic, and allows underlying thoughts to be questioned.

The key to distinguishing Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that Socratic questioning is systematic, disciplined, deep and usually focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems.

So, how do we frame our questions in a useful and positive manner and apply Sacratic questioning to our everyday life and make it a practice? Quite often it is just a simple shift and opening ourselves to learning, exploring and growing. Instead of asking, “Why me?”ask, “What can I learn from this?”
Instead of asking, “How can I get people to like me?” ask, “What do people like most about me””. Note that questions with negative inferences or ones that close you off to all possibilities limit the quality and positivity and power of the answer. The quality of your questions, whether you are exploring and testing theories in a classroom environment or wondering what the conversation you just had with your boss meant, make all of the difference in the world.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Mathew 7:7
I read somewhere years ago, “knowledge is having the right answer and wisdom is asking the right question”. In any and all situations in life, the right question will take you farther, faster and help you make the most out of your journey.

Questions of the week:

  • How can I improve the quality of my questions?
  • What are my current(s) questions costing me?
  • What is the best question(s) I can ask myself daily?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

New Years Resolution Time

How you can use habits to make your New Year’s resolutions stick?

newyear_resolution_1024x1024I just finish listening to Atomic Habits by James Clear. An insightful and powerful read. Clear reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you have read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, there are a number of similarities and the books complement each other.

They both offers frameworks for improving–every day. And provide practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Charles Duhigg describes how a habit can be formed and how it can be changed. He calls this the Habit Loop. The Habit Loop is composed of the Cue > the Routine > the Reward.

  1. The Cue is some type of trigger that unfolds a set of behavior automatically. A cue can be a certain time of day, a place, an emotion, or being with a certain group of people.
  2. The Routine is the set of behavior that is automatically unfolded because the cue happened. This can be a good routine, like walking up early and exercising, or a bad habit, like smoking when you feel stressed.
  3. The Reward is the most important part, because that is why habits exist.

Duhigg shares that every habit essentially functions the same way: a cue (trigger), a routine (series of actions), and a reward (goes without saying). In some way, the reward poweris the most important part because we’re doing the sequence of cue then routine to get the reward. So, if you want to shift your habits, then you essentially need to find ways to manipulate your cue (time of day, environment, etc.), your routine (going to get fast food, smoke a cigarette, etc.), or your reward structure (how you reward the new routine).

James Clear’s takes a slightly different approach. He defines his framework as the Four Laws of Behavior Change. The Four Laws of Behavior Change consists of a four-step loop that underlies all of human behavior: Cue, Cravings, Response, and Reward. When repeated, this neurological feedback loop leads to the formation of new habits.

  1. Cue; Make it obvious
  2. Craving; Make it attract
  3. Response; Make it easy
  4. Reward; Make it satisfying

Clear shares that if you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. In his book he shares a proven system that can take you to new heights.Atomic

A common belief is that motivation is something that gets you going. The truth is that motivation kicks-in after you’ve get going. Harvard psychologist, Dr. Jerome Bruner, said, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling, than feeling yourself into action.”

Rather than optimizing your life for the finish line, Atomic Habits teaches you how to optimize your life for the beginning of your journey. If you can get some quick small wins, you’ll start to develop some confidence, motivation, and momentum. Then, if you have a system in place to keep you going, then that system and process will take you where you want to go.

As you start to plan for 2019, focus on the START, not the FINISH. Build systems (your process) and then habits that can organically take you where you want to go. And make 2019 your best year yet.


Questions of the week:

  • What is the first step that I need to take to create some small wins and positive momentum?
  • Who should I share/ partner on my system with (accountability partner)?
  • What does my best year yet look like?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

Team Success

People have to believe that they can make an impact. How do you create an environment that empowers them and supports them so that they can do just that? Believing that you can create change and make a positive impact no matter what your role or position is is fundamental to the success of an organization.

There’s an old saying among sports coaches, “A champion team will defeat a team of champions.” However, as much as we all admire the ideals of teamwork and connectedness there’s also the alternative notion of the “rugged individual” or the “prima donna” who stands out from the crowd and succeeds without help from anyone.


Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Teamwork redefined

Positive psychology has always emphasized the personal wellbeing benefits of social relationships and connectedness to others. If we take it a step further, we can say that connectedness makes good business sense too, improving organizational performance at the highest levels.

Studies show that working with a united team of colleagues helps to develop interactive routines that harness the unique talents of each team member. Performance is more a function of the familiarity that a team member develops with the assets of a given organization. This is a nice way of saying stars only shine due to their colleagues.

In another study, team familiarity (the average number of times that each member had worked with every other member) was a better predictor of guest satisfaction and sustained success than total experience of individual team members.

The makeup of a team

Psychologist and business professor, Adam Grant, summarizes the above findings saying, “So once we get the right people on the bus, let’s make sure they spend some time driving together.”

Simply working with other people doesn’t mean that you’re working as a team, real teamwork implies collaboration, communication and the acknowledgement of a common purpose. A group is more than a gathering of people and not all groups are teams. Teams are a very particular form of group, they are interdependent and focused on structure and activities.

One of the definitions of team that is used in Psychology is this one, “A team is a group of two or more people who interdependently seek to meet a common purpose, often through problem solving, in order to meet their own and their organization’s goals. At a minimum, a team should be a cooperative unit and, at its best, a team is a collaborative unit.”

Different from other strengths that could be cultivated by yourself, teamwork is all about others. Based on the findings of the character strengths in organizations, they found that individually-focused strengths like creativity are unlikely to occur with other-focused strengths like teamwork. When you work in a team, you’re shifting the focus from you to others.

Leader as facilitator

It’s not the role that defines the leader it’s the leader that defines the role and success. So many people believe leadership is an individual sport, a burden to be bore alone. When in actuality it is a team sport. And for you to reach your fullest potential your team must be set up to realize their fullest potential.

A team is nothing but a group of people working in the same office space. Each person has their own strengths and skills. Each could succeed and do great on their own. However, if they worked as an effective team they could accomplish extraordinary results.

Hence, teamwork requires facilitation. A group scores much better if executive administrators are put in. Because they have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process. They understand the process. Any team who manages and pays close attention to work will significantly improve the team’s performance.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Questions of the week:

  • How do I become a better team player?
  • How do I better align my efforts and actions with the my organization’s goals?
  • What is my role and how do I contribution to the overall success?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

Purpose Matters

Parable of the Bricklayers

Three bricklayers were asked: “What are you doing?”

  • Bricklayer number one says, “I am laying bricks.”
  • Bricklayer number two says, “I am building a church.”
  • Bricklayer number three says, “I am building the house of God.”

The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third bricklayer has a calling.

Purpose (defined here as the intention to contribute to the well-being of others) matters. And the higher up the “success chain” you look, the more purpose you’ll find. Help people realize their purpose and that they are capable of more than they know.

Bricklaying_GW_20101105_6221Think about it, if you can help individuals, you can help teams, if you can help teams you can help companies and help brands and before you know it you are helping and impacting communities and countries.

How I approach others and how I see them matters. Often, when I am around people I know that I am the presence of greatness. Maybe greatness unfound or undeveloped. Regardless, greatness.

You never know who will go on to do good or even greater things. Treat everyone as they are that person. Strive to bring the best out of them and help them be the best version of themselves that they can be.

As you know, great leaders ask great questions. Every week I will offer up a few questions to consider and answer.

Questions of the week:

  • What is my calling?
  • How do I see others?
  • How can I make my team better?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.