Last week at dinner with my friend, hero, and mentor Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of The Girl Scouts of America and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient), she asked me a question that I’ve been thinking about all week.
Frances always gets me thinking, which I love! She gets me thinking in a way that Erica Dhawan, author of Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence, says is the mark of a “kind of genius.” She asks questions – sometimes she asks me questions and sometimes she tells me of the questions she asks herself.
Erica describes connectionally intelligent people as those who ask questions. And not just any simple “why or when” question that we can find the answer to on Google. She explains that Warren Berger, in his book A More Beautiful Question, states that in order to “flex and develop” we have to question with focus and intention. “To question productively and ‘beautifully’ is to inquire with direction and purpose.”
Frances told me that every night she asks herself: Did I do anything today to help someone change their life for the better? This definitely fits Berger’s model of questioning productively and ‘beautifully’ doesn’t it? This is the question of someone whose life is devoted to helping others and to service, and asking it of herself nightly helps her keep focused on her purpose – to help others change their lives for the better.
Another great friend and example of mine, #1 best-selling author and #1 executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, also uses the power of questions in his daily life and with his clients. He calls it the Daily Question Process. The exercise is to ask himself certain questions every day and keep track week by week to gauge how he is doing on areas that are important to him. Did he write that day? Was he nice to his wife, kids, grandkids? Is he up to date on coaching clients? And so on. The questions are a bit different, the motive is the same: to stay focused on their direction and purpose.
And finally my friend and colleague Bill Carrier of Carrier Leadership Coaching has helped me immensely with a stated objective, which I have turned into a question. The stated objective he uses is: “My first objective is to make them feel good in the process.” I’ve turned this statement into a question and have both written on a post-it on my desk: “Did I make them feel good in the process, first?”
What do you ask yourself to keep focused on your direction and purpose? What is your “stated objective”? I’d love to read your thoughts.
If you aren’t sure yet about your purpose or want to define it even more, Frances, Marshall, and I have co-edited a new book, Work Is Love Made Visible¸ which will be published October 23, 2018! This book is all about the power of finding your purpose and includes the contributions of many of the world’s greatest thought leaders. Pre-orders available now on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com!
 Erica Dhawan, Get Big Things Done: The Art of Connectional Intelligence. Palgrave Macmillan. New York. 2015. Pp 20.
 Warren Berger, “How to Cultivate the Art of Asking Good Questions.” The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2014. https://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/03/05/how-to-cultivate-the-art-of-asking-good-questions/