Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - It Starts with the Right Question


"You can tell whether a man 
is clever by his answers. You
can tell whether a man is
wise by his questions."
Naguib Mahfouz

So here's a question to consider: What kinds of occasions trigger for you the need to review and renew your personal or professional strategic thinking?

For me it's a milestone anniversary or birthday or a get-away-from-it-all vacation. Since I just finished a wonderful vacation with my wife and since my 65th birthday is fast approaching ("Hello, Medicare"), I find myself in the middle of my own strategic reassessment, wondering if I should tweak my life plans for the next five years.

The key step for me in this process is finding the right question to repeatedly ask myself. My friend Nancy Kline teaches that "The human mind thinks best in the presence of a question." Tony Robbins says that "Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers." Finding the right question immediately transforms the quality of my thinking.
Until I find a question that really speaks to my heart, I tend to flounder and feel muddled and disjointed during this reevaluation process. It feels like trying to run in waist-deep water. But once I find it, all sorts of wonderful thinking falls into place for me. I can take that question with me on my walks in the woods. I can ponder it as I drive to my next appointment. I can share it with my wife and glean her wise counsel. The question takes on a life of its own as it breathes life into my reflections.
As luck would have it, in the middle of my muddle, I had an opportunity last week for a Time to Think Thinking Session with Nancy Kline.  This allowed me to think aloud about my challenges and opportunities for the next five years with the aid of an attentive listener. After a bit of slipping and sliding and what felt like aimless blabbering about my present state of confusion, all of a sudden my mind found solid footing when it landed upon this question:
How do I measure my life at this stage of my life?
This question is perfect for me. It reminds me that I need standards and targets with which to gauge my progress, otherwise I tend to get lazy or lackadaisical. It makes it clear that these benchmarks are personal to me, not for anyone else. It helps me identify what matters most going forward, and allows for the possibility that these guidelines might be slightly different from previous yardsticks.

How do I measure my life at this stage of my life?
Using this question to spur my thinking works like magic for me. It helps me see my future more clearly. It helps me move potential obstacles out of my path. It fills me with the energy of real possibilities.
The process is ongoing at the moment. I don't have all the answers yet, but I do have the question. In a very short time, it will lead me to a strategic vision for the next five years of my life and my work.

So, what is YOUR question, the one that will open YOUR thinking to the right answers for YOU? Good strategic thinking starts with the right question.

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