“The answers are in the questions; Ask better questions to get better answers. What better questions can I ask today?” ~ QBQ! book
I was sitting on a Southwest Airlines flight several years ago when a colleague of mine handed me a book and said “you may like this.” The book he handed me was QBQ by John G. Miller. I will honestly say that my first thought was, cool a short book it won’t take long to read. It didn’t take long the first time or the six or seventh time I read it. The book has taught me three things: first that I needed to read more because I had a lot to learn. Second the importance of being personally accountable, and third the importance of good questions.
Over time I have learned the value you can gain by asking questions. From the simplest and most under used question, “How may I help you today?” to the more complex questions you may ask during an investigation. Asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers can gain you a treasure of knowledge.
One time when visiting a store I was asked by a Manager to help him with a Team Member issue. He outlined for me the situation and I took some notes. About an hour later when the Team Member arrived I sat with him and the Manager. Based on the earlier conversation I had four questions I wanted to ask. With the answers to those questions we had a solution and a plan of action in less than 30 minutes. By asking questions instead of creating confrontation the result was a win-win situation.
Questions in business are not hard to find and should be focused on creating solutions. Questions about life, however, can be much more difficult. They are personal and often more difficult to answer honestly and to act upon. At the same time they are much more important to ask. The questions I am referring to are the ones you have to ask yourself about you. The questions about your priorities, integrity, responsibility, purpose, direction and others that come from the heart. The questions that require actionable answers to improve your life and the lives of those around you.
Life is about the choices we make. I for one hold myself accountable for making some bad ones. Some of them with harsh consequences, and some where the results were wonderful. These are not decisions I can change,they are ones however from which I have learned. Learning that has come from asking better questions of myself. Learning that has me asking better questions of my children. Learning that has led me to trying to help others through my words and actions.
Let me give you an example of questions I ask myself at least once every week:
How do I use my time most effectively today?
How do I make a difference in someone’s life today?
How do I learn from the mistakes or success of yesterday?
How do I make myself better today?
How do I make my situation better?
There are two key ingredients that make questions count.The first ingredient is that in business one must set standards and expectations for both ourselves and for others as part of a team. In life one must first set them for oneself. It is all about believing in yourself and your abilities. You must set the standard for your values and expectations. You must take responsibility for the second ingredient, your actions.
Here are a couple of examples. As a parent you may value teaching respect and responsibility with your children. First ask, “How do I show more respect and take more responsibility?” Second, insure your actions meet or exceed the expectations set in your answer. Another example may be building trust in a relationship. Ask, “How do I earn your trust?” Then build on the answer by acting in a trustworthy way.
This is not about being self-centered. It is about knowing yourself by looking in the mirror and asking yourself about yourself. It is about having confidence in how you will act while staying humble. It is about being a leader in life. I believe if my Father was here today he would agree with this assessment: We work hard everyday to do the right things at our job, because it is what we are paid to do. We should work hard to do the right things in life, so are we are paying back to those around us. My father had that mastered. So the next time you are down, know you made a mistake, have great success or want to make a difference in someone’s life, look inside yourself and ask a question starting with; How do I…….?