The Two Types of Questions
More than a decade ago, Dr. Daniel Friedland shares in Leading Well from Within, he and his then four-year old son Dylan were walking down the trail to Torrey Pines Beach outside of San Diego. Despite the spectacular setting, all Danny could think was: “What’s wrong with me?”
At that time, he was plagued with an increasing sense of regret and remorse over the ten years he had spent writing about and teaching evidence-based medicine rather than pursue his passion for work on leadership and resiliency.
“How can I find my way home?”
The question came to him suddenly. Unexpectedly.
As Danny tells it: “I experienced a radical shift. The tension in my body instantly released. I felt a sense of clarity and stillness…. Something had suddenly flipped in my mind to a new way of thinking and had entirely changed the way I was viewing the situation….
“All I did was ask a better question.”
Today’s learning involves paying attention to the questions we are asking ourselves.
Because the questions we ask sets the direction of our lives.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of questions: reactive questions and creative questions.
Reactive questions fuel a victim or blaming mindset:
Why is this happening to me?
Who’s to blame?
What’s the matter with me?
What’s the matter with you?
Creative mindset questions prime our brain in a very different way. Asking these questions with genuine curiosity is a game-changer.
What is the desired outcome?
How can I best contribute right now?
How can I learn from this experience?
How can I best respond?
How can I better connect with __________?
How can I best express myself?
When we feel stuck, asking a better question opens a path forward.
In Danny’s case, asking a better question set his life on a whole new trajectory.
Reflection: Is my self-talk generally positive or negative?
Action: Intentionally ask myself at some point today: What is the desired outcome? Or: What am I here to learn?