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Empowering Questions

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As you may know from previous posts, I am reading Tony Robbins book Awaken the Giant Within. There are so many great concepts in the book that I can't share them all. However, occasionally, one latches onto me so strongly that I'm compelled to write about it.

His chapter called, "Questions Are the Answer" introduced an idea that I've never considered. He asserts that it's our questions that determine how we think. I strongly believe that our thoughts are critical to creating our existence, but I've never focused on the role that questions have in establishing our thoughts. After isolating my self-talk for a few minutes, I realized that it is filled with questions. What do I think about this idea of questions determining my thoughts? How can I apply this knowledge? What's for lunch? You get the idea.

The information below is a mixture of Tony's thoughts and my own. In most cases, the thrust of the discussion moves more to my perspective.

Why do questions determine your thoughts?
First, questions will either support your current focus or change your focus. There are at least a hundred things that you could think about at any given moment; however, our conscious mind is only capable of giving its attention to a few. Asking a great question will appropriately narrow your focus to something that is a manageable size for your mind to process.

Second, questions change what we delete or retain. After your conscious mind evaluates the inputs, it either stores the information or sends it to the subconscious for further processes. Great questions will judge the information to retain the relevant and discard the erroneous. Therefore, the quality of the questions that you use to filter your sensory data will impact the information that is available for the subconscious mind to make decisions. Remember, most of our actions are unconscious. If you don't believe me, try to think about every detail when you drive to the gas station.

Third, questions expand our limit our options. Lawyers are masters at framing a discussion by asking question. We have often seen an attorney on television ask a series of well-worded questions that guide the witness down a path of ever-limiting options. A classic example of a limiting question is, when did you stop beating your wife? The question itself assumes the guilt of the witness. When we ask ourselves, what's for lunch? We are already assuming that we will be eating lunch. An even more limiting question would be, where are we going to eat? This question assumes that you are both going to eat and going to eat out.

What questions should I ask?
While there is no limit to the great questions that you can ask, Tony provides key "problem-solving questions" that's a good place to start asking empowering questions.

1. What is great about this problem?

2. What is not perfect yet?

3. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?

4. What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?

5. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?


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