A Time and Place for Vital Conversation

Avoiding Vital ConversationNow is Not the Time.

You ever hear that from someone when you want to have a vital conversation? You want to talk about where the relationship is going.

I am not ready to talk about that.

You want to discuss your future in the organization.

This is not a good time to have that discussion.

Perhaps you have used this response yourself with others. Maybe even told it to yourself when you are faced with something that had to be addressed in the workplace or on your team. Adam is a gregarious person and has been with the team a few months. Everyone likes Adam. He always makes everyone laugh and he’s always ready to make the party lively. The problem is Adam is consistently not meeting his deadlines for deliverables on projects. It puts the project behind and causes everyone else to have to work longer and harder to make it up. So far, because Adam is so likable, the rest of the team has been good-natured about it but you know it won’t last for long.  You need to have a critical conversation now and it will be unpleasant.

Well, we have a couple of fires we need to put out, we’ve had somewhat of a crisis around here, and we need to meet these deliverables. It’s not a good time to upset the apple cart. Now is not a good time.

Vital Conversations Are Timely

As I write this, we in America are a day away from experiencing what is now being called The Worst Mass Shooting in American History. In Las Vegas, someone with unknown motives (at this time) utilized a number of rifles modified to be fully automatic to rain gunfire down on a crowd at a concert. Fully-automatic means the one pull of the trigger will fire off a lot of bullets within a very short span of time. The result at this moment is over 58 killed and over 517 wounded. It is tragic and horrendous. Across the country, emotions are high on this one.

Predictably, some have seen this as an opportunity to renew discussions of gun control. Others have railed against those people, calling them insensitive and politically opportunistic. They say that now is not the right time to talk about these things. Yet that is precisely why that vital conversation needs to occur.

Timing is Not Easy to Determine

Timing is a tricky game. Those who have mastered a sense of timing have gone far because of the right action at the right time. The rest of us struggle and learn from it (or don’t) every day.

However, because mastering timing is so difficult, many of us fall victim to what John Maxwell calls the Law of Diminishing Intent. In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, Maxwell defines the law as one of increasing inaction. Specifically, John Maxwell says “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds are that you will never do it.” In other words, every time you put it off for later, the less likely it is you will address it ever.

Therefore, the time is now. Or at the very least we should set the time to discuss now. At least that action in the right direction is progress. Life Coach Mel Robbins advances another theory which factors in here that she calls the Five-Second Rule.

No, this is not the one regarding food on the floor. I’ve seen too many floors and the ways that too many people clean floors to buy into that one.

Robbins’ states her rule like this: If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

It’s Now

The time for vital conversation is now.So the time for vital conversation is now.

The time to talk about gun control is now because in five seconds our mind will be on something else. Waiting got no results after Sandy Hook School shooting, it got no results after Pulse Nightclub shooting, no results after the Virginia Tech shooting, and nowhere after the University of Texas shooting.

It’s time to have that vital conversation about contributing to the team. Or about your future with the organization. And about where the relationship is going.

Rules of Vital Conversation

Just remember some basic ground rules for vital conversation, because to talk strictly out of emotion is to step back and not forward.

  1. Get Yourself Straight. Make sure you are in the right mode to have the conversation. You need to put aside strong negative emotions and be in a mindset for positive intent. If we start off making the other person the enemy we won’t get positive results.
  2. Eliminate Assumptions. Don’t go into the conversation assuming what the other person will do or say. That’s dangerous because we tend to then create the entire conversation flow around that and develop our mindset accordingly.
  3. Tell Your Story. In the book Crucial Conversations, this is expressed as sharing facts and then sharing the meaning you attach to those facts.
  4. Don’t Accuse. A vital conversation is not a denouement or court. Your role is not to blame but to find a resolution.
  5. Invite Exchange. Hear their story. Use Active Listening skills to find understanding. Look for shared meaning or connection. That’s where real vital conversation can begin.
  6. Agree to Action. That action might be a plan of improvement or an adjustment of roles. Sometimes it is simply another meeting date and time to continue. Other times it could be separation.

Action is Critical for Moving Forward.

Without an action plan of some sort, we are having vital conversations for the sake of conversation and nothing else. Without positive action, resentment grows – on both sides – and productivity fades further away.

What ways have you faced up to vital conversation or avoided it? Which point hit from above hit you the most? What more can you add?

Leave your comments here on this page or email me at psimkins (at) BoldlyLead.com

And be sure to ask for a copy of my eBook 15 Innovative Ways to Show Employees You Care (and Not Break the Bank). It’s yours FREE!

Communication Suffers Storm Damage

Break through communication barriersDespite our best efforts, sometimes communication just doesn’t get through.

Calm in the Storm

We had a little storm down here recently called Hurricane Irma. You may have heard of it.

Since our area tends to be full of “transplants” – people who have moved here from other states – for many of them it was their first encounter with a large storm. As you may guess, there was a lot of panic.

To their credit, the Oviedo Mayor, Dominic Persampiere, and the Emergency Operations Chief, Lars White, did an excellent job of using social media and other channels both before and after the storm. Information about shelters, services available, electricity restoration, etc. As I often recommend to leaders, they over-communicated; often the same message multiple times.

Yet still some people kept asking questions about what was already answered multiple times. What gives?

Obviously for some, the communication wasn’t working. It was not really the fault of the communicator in this instance; there were just too many barriers in the way.

Successful Communication

For successful communication, there has to be a meaningful message, an intent sender, and an open receiver. Any one of those three can end up creating a barrier to communication rather than lending itself to success.

Some of the Most Common Barriers to Communication are:

Emotions that Get in the Way

Emotional content is an important part of communicating effectively. Without that, the true meaning of our message is often missed. Where it goes wrong is when the emotions get away from either the sender or receiver. What happened with the storm communication was that the receivers were so full of strong and urgent emotions, it was very hard for the message to get through. It was missed again and again. The sense of the unknown, the panic, the worry, and the fear overwhelmed people. When someone is overwhelmed, it is difficult to send or receive a message successfully. Address the emotions before you address the message.

Undeclared or Unreasonable Expectations

We almost always enter conversations with ideas in our head about what we want to happen or what should happen. Those notions affect our understanding and our responses. We might have the presupposition that the other person will be rude to us because they work for the government and so we enter the conversation expecting rudeness and ready to react to rudeness. We close ourselves off to meaningful conversation because our mind has already given us the answer; we therefore don’t need to hear what the other person has to say. We react to what we expect instead of responding to what we hear. It’s a good practice to set expectations when you begin the conversation rather than allowing the audience to rely on their own.

[tweetthis]Often we react to what we expect instead of responding to what we hear. [/tweetthis]

Using Jargon

This includes using industry slang, abbreviations, acronyms, and words and phrases other people cannot legitimately be expected to know. Let’s throw in using Internet slang and acronyms like LOL, OTOH, IMHO, and so forth. They have their place and it’s not in meaningful conversations or communications. Clear communication requires a shared pool of meaning; in other words everyone has to understand the basics for understanding to occur.

The Absence of Nonverbal Communication

The thing about social media, teleconferences, email, and many of the other ways we communicate today is that we can’t see the other person. If we can’t see the speaker, we can’t rely on gestures, head motions, eyes, mouth movements, and other body language that adds meaning. If we can’t see the audience, we can’t modify our delivery based on how we see people reacting. A UCLA study indicated that 55% of meaning is determined by what people see. So think about that; over half the meaning is lost in a text message or email or social media post. If in person isn’t possible, ask questions to derive feedback and confirm meaning.

Inherent Prejudices

Let’s face it, there will be people where you just don’t like their looks. Hate their politics. Consider their religion to be evil. Have disdain for where they are from. Find the way they talk funny. Or just have something you dislike that you can’t put your finger on. Any of that creates in you a mindset from the beginning of the conversation that closes you off to understanding or to speaking to them in a clear, respectful manner. We all have prejudices, we need the emotional maturity to see past them for communication to occur.

[tweetthis]We all have prejudices, we need the emotional maturity to see past them to communicate.[/tweetthis]

Different Culture

Values and beliefs often come from our ethnic background or simply the environment in which we live. As a native Floridian, my concept of cold is quite different from someone from Wisconsin. So if I say “Gee, it’s real cold out!” I’m thinking it’s below 70 degrees. The person from Wisconsin is thinking around 10 degrees with a 15 degree wind chill factor. When I travelled to Hong Kong to lead workshops, I had to understand the cultural differences and adjust what I say and how I say it to keep the meaning the same.

A Lack of Common Ground

Authentic and meaningful communication occurs when we have connection. Having common ground with someone gives us that connection. Once we have it conversations automatically become more meaningful, immediately require our attention. We are more apt to actually try to reach understanding and perhaps even work past other barriers that get in the way. Common ground should be the starting point for establishing any kind of rapport for communication. Look for ways to establish common ground.

An Uncaring Attitude

Show you care for better communicationIf you don’t care about the people with whom you are communicating it comes out in what you say and how you say it. Your audience will pick up on it sooner or later. Once they feel you don’t care about them, anything else you have to say doesn’t matter. As John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” If you are having trouble caring, truly caring, about your audience pause a moment and determine why. It may mean it’s the wrong audience. It may mean you are communicating for the wrong reasons. It may mean simply it’s not the right time. Stop the communication and re-group.

When have you found it difficult to connect with a speaker? What got in your way? Have you found it difficult to reach a group of people or an individual? How did you handle it?

Share your thoughts here or email me at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com

Subscribe now and you can get my FREE e-book 15 Innovative Ways to Show Employees You Care.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Do you really need to be sold on the importance of communication in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter)?

poor communication leads to the dinosaurs missing the ark with the quote "Oh my God, was that today?"This is one of my areas of passion. My degree is in Organizational Communications and it included an intensive study of a real organization to observe and comment on its communication practices.

No matter the organization there were two things I see in common in regards to communication.

  • One is that we tend to think our organization is great at communication.
  • The other is that we think that until we discover it’s not. We discover it either through a Communications Audit or through trials we experience because communication breaks down.

And it will break down. Trying to stay lean and agile while also fostering growth inevitably leads to breakdowns in communication. We must know where the breakdown occurs and why in order to fix it.

Why Communication Breaks Down.

1.We Think Our Communication is Totally Clear

You, me, everyone of us approach any situation from our own personal point of view. When we are communicating with others, what comes out is not just words. It is also background and knowledge, experiences, and viewpoints. So we talk with words and phrases and sometimes even abbreviations and acronyms that make perfect sense to us but are meaningless to others.

“I don’t know why you don’t get it, I’m made it as clear as can be!”

Been there, done that. Probably you have too. I’ve been on the other side of that too.

Think about how to express the thoughts without the use of jargon. Also think about how your point of view translates to others.

2. Making Assumptions

Along the same lines as clarity is making assumptions.

We assume they understand.

Or that they have the same knowledge set we have.

We may even assume that the other person or people have a certain mindset. I know I have spoken before groups where I made the dangerous assumption that they would be antagonistic. The opposite turned out to be true.

Check your assumptions before initiating conversation. Better yet, ask questions that help clarify or eliminate assumptions you have made.

3. Taking Too Long to Communicate Our Message

You ever get directions from someone who over-explains? They just kind of ramble on and on; usually providing side stories and details and minutiae. It can be hard sometimes to remember or understand the main point of the communication.

Why do people over-explain?

Strangely, I couldn’t find a lot of scientific research on this. I’m sure it’s there, I just didn’t find it. However, I did find plenty of insight on some possible reasons.

  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling Misunderstood
  • Lying

Another strong reason is that many people feel uncomfortable with silence. So when there is a period of silence they feel they must fill the gap and so they talk even more.  Good negotiators know this and often use it as a tactic – the rule is generally the last person to talk loses.

Become your own talented negotiator and seek for win-win communication. Be brief and to the point.

Then shut-up and let them ask for more. If they don’t, they are likely satisfied with the answer. If they do, you get the chance to provide more information for better understanding. Win-win.

4. Not Taking Long Enough

The flip side of taking too long is when we don’t give enough information. This can sometimes be a sign of deception but more often than not it is a sign of what I call “auto-complete”.

We sometimes get a thought process going in our heads that we then start putting in audible words. What happens is that the thoughts in our head complete and our mouth can’t keep up. The result of auto-complete is that the conclusion and sometimes entire thoughts get lost. We THINK we were complete and we were, but only in our minds.

If you have a tendency towards this one way to combat is to ask your audience to confirm their understanding. More specifically, ask where they got lost. That allows you to go back and complete out loud what you completed in your head.

5. Rapid Growth

When an organization experiences a high rate of growth in a short period of time, often effective communication channels become the victim. Usually they weren’t communicating that well to begin with but when you are small it doesn’t seem to matter as much. As growth occurs and more people are thrown in the mix, the lack of designed communication systems becomes glaringly obvious. Conflict abounds, productivity slows, sales get lost, and chaos ensues.

The best fix for this is prevention. At the first signs of growth, be intentional about implementing formal communication systems. I’m not talking about a phone system, I’m talking about making sure there are practices in place to ensure that information is getting shared with the right people. Have a plan yet also be prepared to modify it often.

If you wait until it actually becomes a problem, then you end up having to bring in someone like me to help you repair it. Like everything else, fixing is more expensive than prevention.

6. Emotions

Our communication needs – in fact it must have – emotional content. Emotions provide meaning and emphasis to what would otherwise be just words.

The danger of emotions is when we let them get away from us. Either we are so passionate about our message that we get over-excited or more commonly we allow someone else’s words to emotionally charge us.

Actor and Martial Artist Bruce Lee addressed this while instructing a young student in the movie Enter the Dragon.  He tells the student to perform a kick and then criticizes his lack of emotional content. When the student, upset at the criticism, tries again, Bruce chides him that emotional content and anger are not the same thing.

We need emotion to create connection. The wrong emotion or too much emotion prevents connection.

If you are the speaker, make sure your emotion matches the meaning. If you are the listener, try to keep yourself from reacting emotionally at least until you are sure the message is complete. Carefully consider the point before you emotionally react to it.

7. Ego

ego gets in the way of effective communicationPeople who need power will use information as a power source. The purpose of poor communication or a lack of communication is intentional then in order to keep it to themselves. He who has more information than others holds the power is the belief.

There is also a certain ego boost in being the one “in the know”. Obviously, you are revered if you know more than everyone else, right? Right?!

Ken Blanchard says that when people get caught up in their ego it erodes their effectiveness. The combination of false pride and self-doubt gives a person a distorted image of themselves. The result is a very self-centered and self-driven world where you are simply a tool to reach their purpose.

To communicate with the ego-driven person, focus on providing facts. Offer solutions, Give alternatives. Offer cooperation or invite participation. Avoid anything that would seem like a personal attack or assigning blame. Give appropriate compliments. That will help keep the ego-driven person from reacting emotionally.

If you are on the receiving end of communication from the ego, focus on the facts of what they are saying. Ask questions. Don’t allow the strong emotional content to overwhelm you. Try to get specific action items and make sure they are fully understood.

8. Insecurity

Similar to ego, when a person harbors insecurities they tend to communicate less. Either they are not sure of themselves, not sure of the message, or both. Not sharing the message is highly preferable to sharing the message and risk the threat of being criticized or reprimanded.

Reinforce that you value them and the information they have. Ask for their opinion and more importantly thank them for sharing the information. The idea here is to make sharing information more rewarding than the perceived threat.

9. Inconsistent Message

We can be as guilty of this as well as be the victim of this. This is especially a critical point for leaders. Your message must be consistent.

Want buy in to your vision? Communicate it consistently and constantly.

Looking to encourage the team to a performance goal? Measure and report it consistently.

That means you need to be sure of what that message is. If you don’t know, neither will they. This is primarily where this becomes a problem. When a leader is not really sure of what the vision is or where the goal should be, it’s tough to communicate that consistently.

Make sure of your message and then be intentional about it’s communication. Have a plan.

10. No Common Ground

For your message to reach an audience, they have to be able to understand how it relates to what they already know. This is the common ground.

Common ground is personal. Find elements of the message they can relate to. If you are communicating a sales goal, relate it to how it affects the organization AND how it impacts them directly.

Who do you remember as a great communicator? What made them great? What would you duplicate if you could in yourself and others?

Share your thoughts here or write me at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com.

And while you’re writing me, ask for a FREE copy of my e-book “12 Skills that Make You an Extraordinary Listener”.


Effective Listening Helps the Bad Become Good and the Good Become Better

Are You Great at Listening?

employees not listening to bossMost people think they are great listeners. Multiple studies however have shown that many significantly overrate their ability to listen effectively.

So let’s start by making the concession that you likely believe you are a good or excellent listener.

Listening Quiz

It is probably a good idea to confirm that. Just to make sure. Answer this quick quiz to see how you rate. Answer each question with either Always, Sometimes, Rarely, or Never.

Be tough on yourself here with your ratings. If people have to ask you to pay attention to them, for example, then you would probably rate yourself low on #2 despite your strong feelings that you do pay attention.

  1. I allow a speaker to finish without interrupting
  2. I focus only on the speaker and avoid distractions
  3. I don’t get upset or agitated when when I disagree with the speaker
  4. I try to be interested in what the speaker is saying
  5. I work at retaining important facts from the speaker
  6. I repeat the details to make sure I understand them

Now, give yourself four points for each Always, three points for each Sometimes, two for each Rarely, and one for each Never.

Quiz Results

If you score below 18 points, then you likely are not as good a listener as you believe you are.

If you discovered you are not as good as you thought, you are in good company. As I mentioned earlier, most people feel they are good to excellent listeners but the studies show that actually almost all of us are poor listeners. It gets worse as we get older and has nothing to do with our physical abilities. It has to do with our environment.

We Are Not Naturally Good Listeners

listening earI freely admit that I am not naturally a good listener. Attribute that to whatever you want. That I like to talk and be heard. That I am often opinionated. Because I make assumptions and pursue them. Or simply that I think I know more than the speaker.

The biggest barriers to effective listening (particularly in the business community) are environmental distractions such cell phone, email, other demands for attention and preparing a reply to the speaker’s message. The second one is huge. Most of us feel we must reply immediately to whatever someone says. In fact, the late Stephen Covey once said

“Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”

Listening IS Learnable

Knowing that I am not naturally a good listener, I also know I need to intentionally work at listening more carefully and become better at it.

Perhaps that is the good news in all this. Whether you rated as a good or poor listener, it is simple (but not easy) to become a better listener than you are now.

[tweetthis]It is simple (but not easy) to become a better listener than you are now.[/tweetthis]

Critical Leadership Skill

As a leader, this is a critical skill. James E. Lillie, former CEO of Jarden Corporation, says it is THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL a leader must have. So does current CEO Dave Abney of UPS. And former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer.

What’s the value of listening for a leader?

  • Listening shows you care
  • It allows you to become engaged with your employees
  • It develops your empathy
  • It fosters understanding
  • You can develop your emotional intelligence
  • Listening builds trust

You can read more about the value of listening for leaders here.

So the excellent listener can become the excellent leader. It therefore pays to be intentional about our listening skills.

Six Quick Tips for Listening Better

That’s all well and good, but how do you go about becoming a better listener? Start by focusing on some basic techniques. Again, they are simple but not necessarily easy.

1. Keep Your Focus on the Speaker

Look at them. Make eye contact. It not only gets you to keep your attention on them but also allows you to pick up the non-verbal cues that add context and meaning to their words. A 1981 study showed that only 7% of our understanding comes from words. The rest comes from how we say it and the perception that comes from our interpretation of non-verbal behavior.

2. Avoid Distractions

Put your phone down or in your pocket. Turn away from the computer keyboard. Stop whatever else you were doing. People want to believe they can multi-task – that they can listen and do some work or check email at the same time – but the research actually tells us that we are ALL lousy multi-taskers. We aren’t designed for it. Pay attention to the person who is speaking.

3. Don’t Be a Distraction Yourself

For one, don’t interrupt. It shows a lack of respect for the speaker and what they have to say. Usually we interrupt because we are so anxious to insert our thoughts or opinions. As a result, we never fully understand the speaker’s intent.
Along the same lines, don’t change the subject. Hijacking their message to pursue something else again insinuates that their message – and by extension they – doesn’t matter.

4. Encourage the Speaker

Using small acknowledgements like “uh-huh!“, “I see.“, “go on“, “tell me more” and other similar interjections affirms to the speaker that we are listening and encouraging them to continue. If you are going to hear the message, why not hear all of it?

5. Manage Your Emotions

When we allow ourselves to react to words or thoughts, especially when they are counter to our own opinions, we significantly diminish our ability to understand. It’s kind of like a faucet handle. As we react emotionally, we turn that faucet handle and the flow of water becomes less and less until it is just a trickle. Then eventually not at all. Emotional content is necessary and so we need to be careful that it doesn’t overtake us.

If you want to see evidence of this, look at discussions of current events on social media like Facebook. Most participants react emotionally instead of responding thoughtfully. As a result, no one understands, no new thoughts are shared, and tensions run high. Friendships and connections are lost.

6. Confirm Understanding

Create a comprehension sandwich. When the speaker finishes, pause. Your first words after that should be “What I understand you to say is…” followed by a paraphrase of their message. Then finish by asking “Is that correct?” The lead-in helps set the stage that you are seeking understanding and not providing a counterpoint. The paraphrase helps to put it into your own words to internalize the message. The finish allows the speaker to confirm your understanding or improve your understanding.

For big bonus points, your next response after understanding is achieved is not to make a statement but to ask a question. It allows the speaker to further share their thoughts and your learn and understand even more.

Listening as Leaders

As a leader, we need information and input. We won’t get it when we are talking but get all we need when we are listening.

What listening skill do others praise you for? Which skill do you pride yourself on? Where do you need the greatest improvement?

Share your thoughts here or email me at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com.

If you email me you can also get a FREE copy of my e-book 15 Innovative Ways to Show Employees You Care Without Breaking the Bank. it provides some excellent proven methods for creating connections with your employees at minimal or no cost. If you want to start building engagement, you want this book to help establish those channels of caring.

Your Best As a Leader Depends on Your Questions

We love answers! We want to know! Why has the term “Google It” become so popular? Because it is a quick and easy way to find answers. Type in a phrase or keyword and in a flash Google gives you results. Lots of results!

Outside of Google, how do we find the answers we seek?

We ask questions.

Questions Get to the Basics

When I took a class in journalism at the University of Central Florida (GO KNIGHTS!) they emphasized that a journalist always seeks to find answers to the certain details about a story. The answers are covered with the acronym WWWWWH. That’s Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

  • WHO is involved in the story?
  • WHAT happened?
  • WHEN did it happen?
  • WHERE did it happen?
  • WHY did it happen?
  • HOW did it happen?

If you answer those questions you have told the reader most of what they want to know. Everything else is details.

Applying Questions in Life

Questions Drive Creative SolutionsI’ve kept that idea and tried to apply it to my life. In general I try to use questions as much as possible to learn, to discover, and to get clarity.

Sometimes I ask those questions of others. Most of the time I ask them of myself.

As a leader, we need to question ourselves often. Not the questions of doubt and deceit. Those are the questions that are meant to tear down; to break down our confidence, destroy our purpose, and rationalize choosing the easier path.

The questions we need to ask are ones that build, that focus, that reinforce our confidence, reaffirm our purpose, and show us a path no matter the difficulty. According to John Maxwell, author of Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, asking questions provides several benefits:

  1. You Only Get Answers to Questions You Ask

    Seems obvious, right? But amazing how often we don’t ask questions about what we want or need to know.

  2. Questions Unlock and Open Doors that Otherwise Remain Closed

    Peter Drucker once said, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”

  3. Questions Are the Most Effective Means of Connecting With People

    Have you ever stopped to ask directions from a stranger, say when your GPS is lying to you? How many told you to go away without giving you directions? Not many I would bet. A simple question generates interest.

  4. Questions Cultivate Humility

    When I was fresh out of college with my degree, I felt I had to have all the answers so I never asked questions. The more I learned, the more I learned what I don’t know. Questions help me discover that even more but helps me learn faster.

  5. Questions Help You Engage Others in Conversations

    Look at talk show hosts. Their entire existence revolves around asking questions of celebrities to start a conversation.

  6. Questions Allow Us to Build Better Ideas

    What we discover from others leads to great things. When I work with clients I use this to help them improve their workplace.

  7. Questions Give Us Different Perspective

    When we want to do things differently we have to see things differently and overcome our assumptions.

  8. Questions Challenge Mind-Sets and Get You Out of Ruts

    We settle into the familiar. Asking questions like “why” and “why not” can disrupt our status quo.

Start with Questioning Yourself

I recently read a blog about the 11 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Day. It was impactful and insightful. Unfortunately, it is on a subscription service and I am not able to share it here. If you want to find it yourself, the subscription program is called Maximum Impact Mentoring.

That was 11 questions and that may seem a bit much. Most of us complain we don’t even have time for breakfast, much less time time to go through a bunch of questions every day. Eventually you want to get there but in the meantime…

Let’s Go Simple

The statesman and philosopher Benjamin Franklin has been said to guide his life by asking himself two questions. In the morning he would ask himself, “what good will I do today?” and then in the evening before going to bed he would ask “what good did I do today?

Simple and if you think that’s enough for you, that’s great, go for it. If you want it more customized to your role as a leader, however, let’s try something else. For best results, I recommend keeping a journal. Use Evernote (my favorite), a diary app, or just a spiral notebook or composition book. Every day, set aside 5-10 minutes and ask these questions. Modify them based on whether you do this in the morning or evening.

  • What did I learn yesterday (today)?
  • How did I add value yesterday (today)?
  • Who do I need to recognize today (tomorrow)?
  • How will I focus on my strengths today (tomorrow)?
  • Who will I show appreciation to today (tomorrow)? 

Do you ask a lot of questions? How did not asking questions cost you? How can you make sure you lead with questions?

Share your comments here or email me at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com.