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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Change your questions, change your life by Marilee Adams

I re-read this book and finished it in July 2022. I recommend this book 8/10.

It is a regular practice to promote your most talented performer to manager. Maybe you are one of those examples. But, going from being the Go-To-for-Answer Guru to a good leader is a different toolset. In this well-written book, you will follow Ben, a recently promoted manager who is struggling with his workload, team, and home—until he connects with a business coach who teaches him that if you change your questions, you can change your life.

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My notes and thoughts:

  • "The point is that questions drive results," Joseph responded. "They virtually program how we think and behave and what kinds of outcomes are possible. Consider 3 companies, each one driven by one of the following questions: What's the best way to satisfy shareholders? What's the best way to satisfy customers? What's the best way to satisfy employees? In terms of business, each question takes our minds in a different direction. Questions drive results.

  • It is vital to ask more questions—not just technical but especially about people. Start asking yourself questions like: What can I do to get people more engaged? What can I do to get people working collaboratively? What do others need from me? What do they have to contribute that I haven't been noticing?

  • Most of the time, we're shifting back and forth between Learner and Judger mindsets, barely aware we have any control or choice. Choice begins when we are mindful enough to observe our own thoughts and feelings and the language we use to express them. This is the key to success—building the muscle of the observer self. Self-coaching is impossible without a strong observer! It is simple as asking ourselves, What's going on? Where am I right now? Am I in Judger or Learner? Choices begin with observing our own thinking and our own mindset.

  • Learner questions:

    • What do I value about myself?

    • What do I appreciate about him/her?

    • Am I being responsible?

    • What can I learn? What's useful?

    • What is he/she thinking, feeling, and wanting?

    • What are the best steps forward?

    • What's possible?

  • The choice is always ours, although it takes practice and sometimes courage to make the best use of it.

  • "The last of human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one's own way." ~ Viktor Frankl.

  • Switch questions to go from Judger to Learner:

    • What's really going on with me?

    • Am I willing to forgive myself?

    • How do I want to feel?

  • Then, when back into Learner:

    • What will serve me best right now?

    • Am I being honest with myself?

    • What do I really need?

    • What can I do to feel better that doesn't involve eating?

  • What happens when you change your question from "Who's to blame?" to "What am I responsible for?"

  • ABCD Choice Process:

    • Aware—Am I in Judger? Is this working?

    • Breathe!—Do I need to step back, pause, and gain perspective?

    • Curiosity—What's really going on (with me, others, the situation)? What am I missing?

    • Decide—What's my decision? What do I choose?

  • Organizations follow the mood of their leader. Do you want a Learner culture?

  • "It's not differences that divide us. It's our judgments about each other that do." ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

  • Are you asking yourself questions like: How can I show them I have the right answer? Or are you asking: What can we discover and accomplish together? What could they contribute that I haven't thought of yet?

  • Ask yourself when interacting with your team:

    • What do I appreciate about them?

    • What are the best strengths of each one?

    • How can I help them collaborate most productively?

    • How can we stay on the Learner path together?

  • 3 questions when facing a difficult conversation with someone:

    • What assumptions am I making?

    • How else can I think about this?

    • What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?

  • Failure is often crucial for learning how to do something well.

  • "Poor leaders rarely ask questions of themselves or others. Good leaders, on the other hand, ask many questions. Great leaders ask the great questions." ~ Michael Marquardt.

  • 12 questions for success

    • What do I want?

    • What assumptions am I making?

    • What am I responsible for?

    • How else can I think about this?

    • What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?

    • What am I missing or avoiding?

    • What can I learn...

      • From this person or situation?

      • From this mistake or failure?

      • From this success?

    • What questions should I ask (myself and/or others?)

    • How can I turn this situation into a win-win one?

    • What's possible?

    • What are my choices?

    • What action steps make the most sense?

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