A Few Good Questions

I’m writing this blog while taking a high speed ferry from the Island of Santorini, Greece to Athens, Greece, where I’ll be speaking and exploring over the next five days. This most recent business and travel experience and adventure has given me extended time and opportunity to ponder and contemplate my life, my mission and my journey. One thing that continues to be clear to me is that the key to my growth and transformation will be questions, and that questions (when honestly answered) will serve as guideposts for my journey. This week, I want to share with you a list of five questions that are vital to anyone seeking to live and lead authentically and with impact. I call them the Life Questions!

Question 1: Who are you, and who will you become? This requires you to assess who you are today, to ask yourself whether you’re the person you want to be and, if not, consider who you will choose to become in order to be your most authentic self (personally and professionally) and to have the most impact in all parts of your life.

Question 2: Where are you going? This does not require a detailed plan, but it’s important to have at least some sense of your direction (again, personally and professionally). As it was famously said by Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” I’m not suggesting that you need an in-depth life plan, just that you ask and answer the question of where you intend to go in every part of your life. Once you have the answer and clarity on where you are going, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of getting there.

Question 3: Why are you here? Asking and answering this internal question is critical since having a clear why (or purpose) for your journey will likely have the most significant impact on whether or not you become who you want to be and get where you want to go. As I have often said, “You don’t need to know how if you know why.” Your why will help you overcome the many setbacks, doubts and obstacles that you will undoubtedly face along the way. When you clarify why you are here, the how and the what will unfold in front of you.

Question 4: What will you stand for? This question requires that you thoughtfully and purposefully determine what your core values are and will be. These are your non-negotiables – the values that you will protect, defend and lean on in your leadership and life. These are the foundations of who you are that will serve as guideposts and help you to make decisions every day. These values will also allow you to assess each day of your journey with another question (Did I live my values today?). As is often said, if you’re not clear what you stand for, who knows what you might fall for?

Question 5: Finally and perhaps new to you is a question that is often missed or perhaps never even contemplated: What are you willing to let go of? The truth for all of us is that, in order to change and transform, we have to let go of things. We have to let go of old ways of thinking. We have to let go of our prior ways of living, relating and leading. We have to give up our efforts to control anyone and everyone, and instead focus on controlling ourselves. We have to let go of beliefs, inside stories, cultural stories and other ways of thinking. We may even have to give up and let go of people and relationships.

If you envision your growth and transformation as grabbing the next rung of a ladder as you move forward and upward, that cannot happen unless and until you’re willing to let go of an old rung. This question may be the most difficult to answer since we are deeply attached to the way things are (or the way be believe them to be), including ourselves.

That’s it – five simple (but deep) questions that, when answered, will give you the guideposts and tools you need for whatever journey of shift and transformation you choose to undertake. I encourage you to act with a sense of urgency in asking and answering these questions, but don’t rush the process. Invest some time into yourself and in answering these five questions – the answers will serve you well on your journey. Take time to answer these few good questions and watch the ways that your journey clarifies and accelerates.

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