April 19th, 2013

The Empowering Question

By Ron Nakamoto


Reshared post from +Ron Nakamoto

In his recent book “To Sell is Human”, Daniel Pink describes research conducted by Ibrahim Senay and Dolores Albarracin of the University of Illinois and Kenji Noguchi of the University of Southern Mississippi that “confirmed the efficacy of ‘interrogative self-talk’ (in other words, asking oneself questions).  Pink juxtaposes interrogative self-talk with “declarative self-talk” – the sort of “autosuggestions” or affirmations that popular self-help gurus tend to promote.  What the research revealed was that those who asked questions were far more effective than those who engaged in affirmations prior to engaging in challenging activities.

Pink posited that asking questions “elicits answers – and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the task.”  In addition, the researchers that Pink cites state that “declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within.”

The key then becomes asking the optimal question(s) for a given situation.  While interrogative self-talk may be more effective than declarative self-talk, it’s sub-optimal to ask disempowering questions.  For example, let’s suppose that you’re having a bad day.  Asking “Why are bad things happening to me?” is certainly interrogative self-talk but it’s nevertheless disempowering to ask that question.  Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to ask something like “What small step can I take immediately to make my day better?”  It’s a matter of not only engaging in interrogative self-talk but asking an empowering question

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One Response to “The Empowering Question”

  1. Ron Nakamoto

    An interesting companion to this post is this email newsletter article from +Robin Sharma 

    How to Turn a Hard Day into a Great One 
    Managing Change: Transforming a Hard Day into a Great One
    By Robin Sharma
    Author of The #1 Bestseller "The Leader Who Had No Title "

    Last week, some smart soul on Twitter asked me to share my thoughts and strategies on turning a so-called "bad day" into a positive one. So he could show leadership versus victimhood. And focus on opportunities versus stay stuck on problems. 

    Excellent request. Ready to reply. Thank you for asking. 

    The first idea I'll suggest is that there's really no such thing as a "bad day". 
    (I still adore Nietzche's genius line: "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.") 

    Everything that we experience serves our growth + expansion + progress + excellence. Hard times deliver a relentless stream of rich gifts that–properly leveraged–makes us smarter/faster/tougher. And infuse even more success and excellence into your life. 

    These gifts include: 

    — insight and understanding
    — mental and emotional strength
    — greater levels of creativity and ingenuity
    — all-new levels of wisdom + knowledge
    — the confidence delivered via experience
    — higher levels of leadership mastery
    — humility and larger humanity

    But, of course, The Blessings Within Adversity are easy to forget. We all have days that frustrate and discourage and irritate us. We all encounter moments that knock us off our game–and diminish our confidence and self-faith. That's just part of the leadership and life ride you and I are privileged to be on. Part of being a human being. And aiming for rare-air. 

    When faced with a challenging day, many people play the victim. They crumble into retreat, blame conditions and other people and believe they are powerless. But giving away your power is excusing yourself. And no victim ever changed the world. 

    You're different: a game-changer + exceptional producer + a true leader. So to keep you focused on getting giant things done and staying at your finest on even the most difficult of days, please remember these 6 practical ideas: 

    #1. All progress is messy. The very nature of any type of growth (business or health or personal or inner, for example) means you'll experience disruption, confusion and what appears to be difficulty. Just keep in mind that problems are progress in wolf's clothing. And that rather than going backward, your challenges are actually showing you you're moving ahead. Brilliantly. 

    #2. Think Like An Entrepreneur. No matter what you do for a living, embracing the mindset of an entrepreneur will serve you well. Entrepreneurs get that the only way to win is to hunt for the opportunity amid adversity. They get that what makes the best the best is not how you perform when all's going well but how masterfully you show up when everything's falling apart. 

    #3. Keep Perspective. Here's a good question to ask yourself on a bad day: "Has anyone died here?" Or simply remember that if you're healthy + have work that matters + people who love you + a roof over your head, you're a seriously fortunate person. I guess what I'm suggesting is that gratitude is the antidote to frustration. And that maintaining perspective in times of crisis is a beautiful leadership move. 

    #4. Manage Your Mindset. Related to keeping perspective is protecting your mindset (mindset's even more valuable than IQ to do world-class work and create a life you love). On a challenging day, it's so easy to start wallowing in self-pity, focusing on what isn't working and getting messed up with negative thinking. So–instead–I encourage you to maintain "a pristine bubble of total focus on your most valuable opportunities." Stop watching the news. Block out the noise of the naysayers (critics are just dreamers gone scared). Clear out any toxicity and get busy achieving giant results. 

    #5. Fuel You. Your productivity, performance and success are a direct reflection of what's going on in your inner life. The doorway to success opens inward–not outward as the dominant messaging of society suggests to you. So–on a turbulent day–take great care of your "inner assets". Go for a run. Eat like a nutritionist. Write in your journal. Connect with nature. Read the autobiographies of your heroes. Get some rest. Breathe. 

    #6. Stay Centered on Your Personal Everest. Here's a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci that's served me well over my 16 years as a leadership advisor to The FORTUNE 500 and top entrepreneurs: "Fix your course on a star and you'll navigate any storm." The key to staying strong and passionate is having a ridiculously clear mission and purpose (a vague vision delivers vague results). Know your mountaintop. Be monomaniacally focused on breathtakingly exciting goals. Then, when a hard day hits, you'll take the knock. But keep on going. With greater conviction than ever before. 

    I celebrate your success. And honour your talents. Keep Leading Without a Title. And go make awesome things happen! Please.

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