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Personal leadership and the power of good questions

Do you want to get the best out of yourself? Even in times of crisis like corona? For yourself and for your environment? Personal leadership is closely related to the power of good questions. Why is asking good questions important for your strength and personal leadership?

Your brain always provides answers to your questions

We ask ourselves many questions throughout the day. By asking questions we evaluate situations. This gives your brain a sense of security, control. But this is a false sense of security.

Many questions are asked at an unconscious level. They are closely linked to unconscious beliefs about yourself and your environment. These unconscious beliefs you have often inherited from parents or other influential people during your childhood. Unfortunately, they are not always accurate or helpful. And these beliefs cause you to ask questions that don’t point you in the direction of your strength.

If you ask yourself a question then your brain will search for the answer at lightning speed. The brain usually draws from past experiences. It doesn’t matter to your brain whether or not the answer is meaningful, empowering or inspiring. As long as there is an answer. Because that gives your brain the idea of controlling the situation.

So unfortunately, the brain often comes up with answers that don’t get you anywhere. Because you’re not asking the right questions. The ability to ask good questions is a strength that is essential to personal leadership.

The importance of your mindset when asking questions

The mindset in which you ask the questions determines the mindset of your answers. Do you want to live and work more from personal leadership? And discover the power that lies in asking the right questions? Then it is important to be more attentive to the questions you ask yourself throughout the day. Consciously or unconsciously.

We sometimes feel overwhelmed by situations, we get irritated or we are just fed up. From this mindset, you often ask questions like:

  • why does this happen to me (all the time)?
  • why do I have so much work?
  • why do I have so little work?
  • why do I keep doing this wrong?

When asking such questions, you usually get these kinds of answers:

  • because you are no good (why does this (always) happen to me)
  • because no one takes you into account (why do I have so much work)
  • because you are a failure (why do I have so little work)
  • because you never succeed in anything (why do I always do this wrong)

So by asking questions, you often unconsciously endorse the mindset you are in. This puts you in a downward spiral. Your answers endorse your negative mindset. This makes you feel even more negative etc.

Questions that begin with “why” usually take you out of your power. Therefore, be aware of the questions you ask. By becoming aware, you take yourself out of the negative spiral. You will be at the helm of your questions. Asking the right questions will bring you into your power. This allows you to better utilize your full potential and opens the way to personal leadership.

Anthony Robbins and the power of good questions

In his book “Awakening the giant within”, Anthony Robbins gives wonderful examples in his chapter ” Questions are the answers” that make clear how important good questions are for personal leadership. And how good questions can change your life and your perspective.

In times when I need inspiration I often re-read this chapter. For example, he tells of W. Mitchell, a man who was severely injured and largely paralyzed after an accident.

This man chose to develop his personal leadership in times of severe adversity. He did not ask himself ” why is this happening to me”? “How is it supposed to go on anyway?” etc. No. He chose power-giving questions: ” How can I use this situation (largely burned and paralyzed) to make a contribution to myself and the world”?

W. Mitchell wrote the book “Unlimited Power” and inspires thousands of people to ask good questions in difficult circumstances. Questions that lead to your strength and resourcefulness. He used the “headwinds” of his serious accident to give meaning to his life. He is helping many people with this.

Unlimited power, provided you ask the right questions

A good question activates your creativity

I work a lot with asking good questions. I find that it inspires me. Just thinking about a good question automatically changes my mindset. From “I don’t want this”, “why me” (aka “avoidance mode“) my mindset changes to “approach mode”. My curiosity is appealed to. And the creative, solution-oriented part of my brain goes to work.

The question that brought me to a zen monastery in France

For example, I felt quite let down last year because a Zen teacher with whom I had worked for more than ten years broke off contact with me. This was after it was revealed that he secretly had sexual relations with students. I felt betrayed. Because as a board member of the Zen center in question, I felt it was important that this not happen in this place. And I trusted this teacher. I thought that this teacher would not do this kind of thing.

In the beginning, I asked the “why” questions. “Why does he do such a thing”, “why haven’t I noticed anything about this” etc.

But at some point I remembered Anthony Robbins’ chapter again. I started asking myself the question “how can I use this to further strengthen and deepen my connection to Zen meditation”?

This question brought me into my power. It gave me the energy to explore. And that’s how I eventually ended up at the Ryumonji Zen Monastery that I am now a part of. A positive change that I would not have thought possible if I had not chosen inspiring, empowering questions.

Discover your own good questions

What questions could you ask yourself to turn a difficult situation into a source of strength? Once you have found the right question, the trick is to keep asking and repeating the question. To be patient and open. Curious. In this way you give all the answers that want to emerge the chance to emerge.

When you are so intensely engaged with a question, at some point the question starts to work for you more and more. It is like a zenkoan. You keep asking, you let the answers bubble up, let them go and ask the question again. You then come up with answers that put you in your power. You see possibilities you didn’t see before.

Examples of such questions are :

  • How can I develop new products so that my business survives in the corona era?
  • How can I use this situation to bring out the best in myself?
  • What steps can I take to live healthier/ develop more balance my my life?

All the bookings for our inspiration sailing trips in Greece for the year 2020 have been cancelled due to corona. We asked ourselves the question “how can we continue to deliver our at the helm trainings to inspire people despite corona”? The question led us to the development of our Online training @the Helm: a virtual sea voyage for personal leadership.

Asking good questions as a navigational tool

Asking good questions is a navigational tool. It helps you learn to sail on the waves of the problem, rather than be blown over. Asking good questions gives you the power you need for personal leadership in your work and in your life.