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To be successful in life, you need to make good decisions. How to make good decisions in life? You can do that by asking good questions. So, answering good questions will lead to good decisions. Read to understand more about the relationship between good decisions and questions, and know the 3 simple questions to ask that can lead you to good decisions. ~ Ed.
“We keep moving forward opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”- Walt Disney
If there is one thing you do every day, it is asking questions.
You have asked questions today, and you will continue to ask more questions. Because every decision you make is preceded by a question.
When you woke up this morning, and you were about to get off your bed barefooted, the first question that comes to your mind is: where are my slippers? That’s because it is the next step to take.
You look at where you left your slippers the previous night. In most cases, you find it at the first look. But if you don’t, you start searching for it because you must answer that question.
As questions are important to mundane tasks, so are they to the most important steps we take in life. You can’t run away from asking questions because it is such a vital part of your life. It is what makes the mundane tasks possible, and it is questions that give meaning to our lives.
But if you’re like most people, you have been asking questions unconsciously. You have not been paying attention to the questions you ask daily.
One truth you probably know and must continue to hammer to your consciousness is: the quality of your decisions depends on the quality of questions you ask.
Good decisions are the result of your good questions.
What am I trying to say here? I’m saying if you improve the quality of the questions you ask, then you’ll see a positive change in all aspects of your life. There will be an improvement in the quality of your relationships and progress in your career.
The Need for Questions
When you look at some people, you’re envious of the achievements they have made. In fact, you aspire to make similar achievements too. There is nothing wrong with this.
What you have to know is that many times when you see the high achievers, they are the people who have formed positive habits and continue to take actions. It’s this that the mediocre worker fails to do.
One of these habits is their ability to ask interesting questions. They ask questions that you probably don’t ask. These questions set a fire in their belly as they seek to find the answers.
If you have not developed a habit of asking good questions, then you just go through your day on autopilot. Your mind wanders around and answers whatever question floats into it. But you’re not in control.
At the end of the day, you begin to wonder where all the hours have gone. This is because you have not asked the most important questions about your day.
When you examine your questions, you start asking interesting questions that lead to interesting answers. You have been in this state of mind wandering for too long. So, you must take control of your mind today. You must start asking the right questions.
This leads to the next question (kind of leading by example right?
How Do You Ask Good Questions?
When you have to make a decision, whether about the food to eat for breakfast or the school to pursue your degree, how do you ask questions? Do you ask the trivial questions or the most important ones?
The popular economist, Steven D. Levitt said in his book Freakonomics: “The first trick of asking questions is to determine if your question is a good one.”
If you want to buy a car, what are the questions you ask? Do you buy a car because it’s a fancy car? Well, if you want a fancy car that will show people you’re rich, then that’s fine. But what if your real reason for buying a car is to have a reliable means of transportation to your workplace?
If you’re buying that car only because it’s beautiful, then you have been asking and answering the wrong question. You have been answering ‘is it beautiful?’ instead of ‘is it a reliable car?’
One day when you’re rushing to work, your beautiful car breaks down by the side of the road; this problem started when you asked the wrong question. Of course, a car can be reliable and still be beautiful, but reliability should be the main question in this case.
You may think you’re immune to such cases of answering the wrong questions. Don’t be too confident. It is a problem that affects most people. You go to a store to buy a quality wristwatch that will last for a long time.
There you see a beautiful wristwatch, and you fall in love with it. And you end up buying that wristwatch. You have answered the wrong question. You have answered ‘is it beautiful?’ instead of ‘is it quality?’. And in the process, you have assumed that a beautiful wristwatch will be a quality wristwatch.
When asking questions, you must ask the good questions and make sure you’re answering that question and not another question.
In the book Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel winning behavioural economist, Daniel Kahneman, said it is common for people to answer a question different from what was asked. Their brains automatically substitute an easier question and answer it. You must prevent this.
If how to ask questions is to ask the good/right questions, then in what ways can you ask these good questions?
Ways to Ask Questions Effectively
When you ask questions, what are the important things to consider to make that question the good question you need to answer?
1. What is the aim of that activity/decision?
If you have to make a choice now, what is the main aim of choosing at all? What do you aim to achieve when you make a decision about that important activity?
If you ask questions about the clothes you want to wear in the morning to work, what is the main aim of that activity? The main aim is that you can’t walk naked to work. Nobody wants to see the shape of your tummy or what is underneath it.
And you have to dress the part. What do I mean? If you’re going to work as a banker, you dress in a suit as that is part of your work. If someone unknown wearing t-shirt and jeans comes to you during work hours and claim to be an investment banker, would you believe him? Probably not, because you begin to smell fraud from the way he/she dressed.
But you could meet an investment banker at a bar in the night wearing t-shirt and jeans, and you would not even raise an eyebrow. Because the dressing is appropriate for the occasion.
For any activity you embark upon, the most important question to ask is the aim of that activity. If you can’t answer that question, then why bother? Why continue to waste your precious time?
Answering this question correctly will lead you to other questions you need to ask to make a task or decision successful.
As a writer, when I write a post or a fictional scene, I find that my work is more structured if I had asked what the aim of the post was.
2. How can you achieve your aim?
Now you know the aim of that activity. But you’re yet to achieve that aim. That is your final goal. To reach this goal, you have to ask another important question ‘how can you achieve that aim?’
If your aim of eating in the morning is to be energetic throughout the day, how do you achieve that aim? Do you eat foods that will only supply low energy to you? Do you drink tea and believe all will be well?
If your aim of choosing a secretary is to have your office more organized, do you choose a secretary who cannot even organize her own room properly?
How do you pick a secretary that will achieve your aim of getting your office organized? If your aim of having exercises is to improve your general fitness, your routine workout would probably be different from a boxer who aims to build strength and stamina.
“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever” ~ Chinese proverb
When you ask the question of how you can achieve your aim, it could lead to many answers depending on the complexity of the task or importance of the decision you have to make. In fact, it could lead to other questions you need to answer. Just keep asking the questions.
3. What are the possible obstacles?
Everybody wants to be a success. How come only a few people achieve it? Because it is hard to be successful. If it was easy, then we will all build mansions, buy fancy cars, and lie on the beach smiling at the sun.
Most people just do that in their dreams. That is because there are always obstacles on the way to success. No matter how small a task you want to perform, you will face obstacles. You can have a perfect plan, but reality may throw something unexpected at you.
This is what separates the successful individual from the failure. The successful individual anticipates the obstacles and prepares for them. You should ask this important question: what obstacles can come on the way?
What could be possible obstacles to the achievement of your aim? If your aim of sending your child to school is to train her to be the best guitar player possible, and the closest music school is about 300 kilometers away, that is an obstacle because you probably want to see your eight-year-old daughter daily.
How do you solve this problem? This leads you to more questions. Is there a personal tutor that can train her until she is old enough to go to the music school? Are there other alternatives you have? Can you afford them?
You see how the questions are increasing? The quality of these questions will determine the quality of the decision that you finally make for your daughter and your family as a whole.
Now in some cases, you may be extremely lucky and face no obstacles. There’s no harm done. The problem occurs when you prepare for no obstacle, and you find many of them on your way to performing a task.
With most things in life, working hard at it and being creative would make a lot of difference. With asking questions, drawing a plan may help you to do the best you can do.
Having a journal where you list the important aims you want to achieve in your career, social, family, and spiritual life can help you track the important questions you want to answer.
What are the most important aims in your career? What are the questions you need to answer to achieve those aims? How many questions can you write during the course of a week? If you can draw up the most important questions, this will be an advantage for you as you are focused on your career to answer those important questions.
When you write questions in other aspects too, you are able to focus on the right things for your relationships with people, and this will take you to a new level in your life.
How curious are you? Keep asking the important questions, and you can live a successful life by answering those questions.
Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Over to you –
How do you ask questions about the decisions you make? Are there questions you ask daily that makes your decision making more effective? Or you have not started bringing the questions to your consciousness? Tell us in the comments.