Friday, December 30, 2011

Two Good Questions for a New Year

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest.

Question #1: "What's working well?"

It's a great place to start because it shifts my mind to appreciation over fear or other emotions. It focuses my mind on what I have as opposed to what I don't have. To help me break it down, I'll ask some "sub-questions"...
-What's working well mentally? Physically? Spiritually? Relationally?
-What's working well in my work? In my personal life? In my living situation?

If I'm honest with myself, there are always a lot of things in my life working well. So, I like to stop and think about those things... and then,

Question #2: "What Could be Better?"

Pretty simple. And, to help me dig, I can ask:
-Where do I see opportunity for improvement or growth?
-Where am I experiencing dissatisfaction?

Sometimes I'll assign a "satisfaction score" of 0 (low) to 10 (high) to the various parts of my life. Anything scored less than an "8" begs the question... "What would be happening in this area of my life to score an 8?"

These two simple questions begin the process of strategic thinking necessary to set a plan in motion. There's likely more exploration in order, but it's a great place to start.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If I lost ten pounds...

One of my favorite questions is... "What is it you complain about changing but never do?" It's a good question because it launches a series of other good questions that sometimes result in change!

The most common response is "I complain about my weight and say I want to lose ten pounds" or something like that... especially around the holidays. What is it about weight loss that is so difficult that it has created a multi-billion dollar industry?

So, at this time of year, many of us willingly jump into the grasp of the multi-billion dollar weight loss or health and fitness industry. We generally make new commitments to eat less and exercise more.

Before we do that though, perhaps it would be good to get to the root of what we make our weight mean. It's surprising what I hear on that one...

"Losing that weight would mean that I could set a goal and achieve it... which would challenge a belief I have about myself that says I'm no good at setting and achieving goals... which of course is ridiculous because I set and achieve goals all the time at work... but I learned that I'm not a good goal setter a long time ago when my grandmother told me so and that I really shouldn't worry too much about planning for the future and should just be happy in the moment... so in a way if I set a personal goal and achieve it I would be saying that my grandmother was wrong, which is hard because I really loved my grandmother... so... if I lose this weight it would be showing disrespect to my grandmother and I won't do that."

Yikes. I wonder what Grandma would have to say about all that? Or to bring it closer to home, What do you make your weight mean?

This journey is not always easy. Sometimes it invites us to face things we have been struggling with for years. And, perhaps, it is worth it.



Monday, December 5, 2011

If you knew you couldn't fail...

One of my favorite questions with a new group is... "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" It's open-ended and brings up all kinds of responses...

"I'd get a PhD."

"I'd cure world hunger."

"I'd make sure everyone has the chance to travel internationally."

Really? No, it's not world hunger... but it might be a remarkable bit of peace making. Years ago, a good friend told me... "you can't hate someone you know"... and it stuck. My sense is that when we get out of our own comfortable and cozy place and people-group we see things differently. It takes some doing these days to get off the beaten track and interact with people that are... well... different. And, one of the things I've learned over the years is that we aren't all that different.

Tomorrow is a long travel day to Warsaw, Poland. I've just finished "The Zookeeper's Wife" and am in the middle of "Skeletons at the Feast" to get my head oriented. The Polish story has had some rough spots. I'm looking forward to seeing how the country has re-invented itself, to meeting up with some people from different backgrounds, to reflecting on the past and how it is informing the present and future.

It may mean foregoing a new toy or fancier car to make travel happen, but I think it's a worthwhile endeavor. The planes fly back and forth every day.



Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...