It is Wednesday afternoon and almost 5:00pm on the East Coast. Because it is “Hump Day”, after the whistle blows at their jobs and Andy from The Office sings closing time many people will be heading to happy hour to get a drink and talk to their coworkers or their friends about the things that happened in their day, good or bad. But after that glorious time between 5 and 7 is over and happy hour is just the lingering taste of beer and nachos in your mouth it is time to go home and get ready to do it all over again. When you get home and you lay your head down on your pillow you are filled with dread, knowing that in a few short hours your amazing dream will be interrupted by the shrill “BEEP BEEP BEEP” of the alarm clock only so you can get up and do the same pattern over again. Does this sound like your days, evenings, and mornings? I know it did for me. But recently I started my days a bit differently, by asking myself five questions.
Many people are not conscious of the fact that their thoughts manifest themselves in their day-to-day lives. Whether your team lost the championship game the night before or your brother’s wife had a baby, how you approach your day, or any situation for that matter, is determined by what you are focusing on. If you are not conscious of your focus it can cripple your productivity, your relationships, your mood, and even your health. But, everyone has the power to manipulate their focus by asking themselves quality questions.
When asked, questions do three powerful things:
#1. When a question is asked of someone it completely changes their focus. If your coworker is thinking about a big screw-up they had the day before and you ask them about their dog, or their kids, or you bring up your drunk boss dancing at the Christmas party it will change their focus from the screw-up to a good memory immediately.
#2. Questions change the things that we are NOT focusing on. In the same situation as above, in order to be stressing about their screw-up your coworker is not focusing on or “deleting” all of the good things that can come out of having a screw-up. Although no-one likes screwing things up, isn’t it true that good things come out of mistakes? For example, aren’t you learning how better to handle a situation so that in the future you are more prepared? Or, what if you created a document that walked someone through that situation so that they wouldn’t have to experience the same stress that you did when you screwed up. Out of almost every situation there is a positive side and the only way to focus on the negative side is to eliminate any thought of the positives that could come out of a situation.
#3. Questions help the person get access to their own internal resources. By asking yourself good questions you can tap into the empowering successful power that you have. Think about a time when you solved a difficult problem and felt proud of yourself because of the level of difficulty of the problem. Now, maybe you solved that problem completely subconsciously without even thinking about it but I have a sneaking suspicion that during the process of solving the problem you probably asked yourself some good questions. Judging by the fact that you solved the problem I assume that you didn’t ask yourself things like, “Why do I have to solve this?” or “Can I delegate this to someone else?” My point is that during this time you were asking yourself good questions that peaked your brain’s curiosity and productivity thereby allowing you to complete the problem.
Now after all of that, you may be asking yourself how can asking myself good questions affect my attitude when I wake up to that damn alarm in the morning. The answer is that by putting your brain into that curious productive state you can affect what that alarm sound means to you. I’ll use myself as an example. As I said, every day when I wake up in the morning I ask myself 5 questions. Those five questions are:
- What can I learn today and how can I apply that learning immediately?
- Who can I make smile or connect with to let them know that I am thinking about them?
- What can I teach today and how can I teach it in a way that allows the learning to be immediately actionable and effective?
- What can I do to put my body in peak physical state and maintain that energy and enthusiasm through the day?
- What is one event that I can look forward to in the next 30, 60, or 90 days?
For me, I get pleasure out of learning, teaching, and working out my body so to start my day thinking about the different ways that I can implement those things is ultimate pleasure to me. To you these questions might touch on different areas but if you think about what is good in your life, or if you can’t think of anything good in your life think about what could be good in your life, you can form some great empowering questions. If you will just take 5 minutes to write down five empowering questions to wake up and ask yourself as you are brushing your teeth in the morning I guarantee you that your alarm will not be as scary in the morning and that you will not have that sense of dread creep into the pit of your stomach as you are going to sleep at night.