Asking the right questions might just be one of the most valuable skills we can develop over the span of our careers. The mind frame it sets – critically analyzing anything that comes in, to determine your own answer – is essential to driving successful change and innovation.
So, I ask, in your own life, what questions are you asking? I am sure we can come up with a list of questions that we should be asking ourselves throughout our day, but I have a couple thoughts on a few good questions that, when asked, can provide some valuable insight.
What am I becoming here? Perhaps the most valuable question we can ask ourselves when we start a new job, new experience, or endeavour. In your current role (whatever that might be), what are you becoming? Are you losing your drive, curiosity or ambition? Then I would say its time you start looking for something else. Are you becoming more curious, more insightful and learning? Then you have most likely found something that is a good fit with you. Everyone always places the emphasis on what they are getting – pay, vacation, benefits, bonus, etc. The focus should not be on what you are getting, but what you are becoming.
Who am I learning from here? Great people have a habit of surrounding themselves with even better people. Who around your organization is teaching you, guiding you, and mentoring you? (See my earlier post on mentors). If there is no one who you see as a source for intellectual and personal growth, that might also be an indicator it’s time to move on. Don’t be the person who sticks around just for the purpose of being the big dog – you won’t grow!
Why am I doing this? This question can be extremely powerful, from assessing the worth of the most minuscule task, to the overarching goal of a fortune 500 company. Whenever you are assigned something, given a job, or asked to complete a project, before you begin, sit back and ask yourself – why am I doing this? More often than not, many tasks have been put in place because once upon a time they were needed – and they have been practiced since, because no one has taken the time to assess their worth. It’s the old scenario of ‘the emperor has no clothes’, where no one questions something because no one wants to be the black sheep. However, here’s the truth – smart leaders appreciate people honestly questioning ideas, processes, or tasks. There’s nothing like groupthink to doom any business. Worried that you don’t have a smart leader, and he/she might not appreciate your questioning? See question 2.
These are only three questions, but by asking yourself these questions on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, you can always make sure that you are guiding your life, rather than becoming a victim to the tides that carry everyone else.