I am a collector. When I was younger I collected stuffed animals, shells, rocks, stamps, plastic Smurf figurines, books, Dr. Scholl’s shoes, Holly Hobbie socks, hair scrunchies, and cassette tapes. As you can tell, I'm dating myself as a kid of the 70’s and 80’s. But as I’ve gotten older, my collections have changed. Instead of physical objects, I now collect wisdom, quotes, thoughts, ideas, and questions- things that take up a lot less physical space and significantly more brain space.
In the last two blog posts, “What is Jesus asking you?” and “If you could ask anything, what would it be?” Jay Hanson and I talked about using questions as a powerful tool for leading and learning. The truth is, once you have experienced the freedom of not-knowing and the power of inquiry, you’ll naturally begin your own collection of favorite questions! So this month, we would like to each share five of our favorite questions with you- inquiries that have shaped our leadership and lives in ways we never would have expected; powerful questions that still cause us to ponder, reflect and refine.
Anne’s Top Five:
“What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” This is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness. I first heard this question posed by Carey Nieuwhof at a ReThink conference. I immediately tried it out on my preteen daughter and the insight she provided was as painful as it was life-giving.
“Who are you and what breaks your heart?” Andy Stanley posed this question at a Catalyst conference I attended several years ago. It continually challenges me to remember who I am and that I was uniquely created with a passion and a purpose.
“What I can learn from you?” As a leader, I’m often in the position to impart advice, direction, and wisdom to others. When I switch the question and ask myself what I can learn from everyone I meet, it allows relationships to become mutually beneficial and helps me see the beauty and value in every individual.
“What would I do if I were unafraid?”Fear is a powerful demotivator that keeps us stuck. By eliminating fear with this question, I often find amazing clarity and direction in my decisions.
“What is the opportunity in this?”It’s often much easier to see the roadblocks, hurdles, and difficulties in a given situation. It’s typically more difficult to identify the opportunity in the pain. This question puts me in the posture of assuming there is something to be learned and gained from every situation.
Jay’s Top Five:
“Am I growing spiritually?”– If so, what is it that is helping me grow? If not, what is hindering me? This question helps me pay attention to my own soul and reminds me that everything I “do” must be from an overflow of my own spiritual growth.
“Am I personally investing in others spiritual growth? Who? – I need to be personally involved in discipling other people. Not hypothetically, practically and tangibly! I need to be able to name them and know my plan for helping them grow.
“Am I developing systems that help people grow? –If people’s growth is tied to contact with the preacher, not many people are going to grow very much. Therefore it is essential to develop scalable systems that enable to grow without having to be personally connected to me.
“What would a great leader do?”I got this question from Andy Stanley. Often when I am struggling to discern the most appropriate course it is because my personal feelings are clouding my judgment and causing me difficulty in determining what “I” should do. So I change the question to “what would a great leader do?” I can generally figure that out and then I just decide to do that.
“Why?”– Generally I like to go at least 3 “whys” deep. Why is it the way it is? Why is that? And why is that? This helps get closer to the root issue. So much time is wasted dealing with symptoms rather that root causes. I have found taking the time to ask “why” multiple times helps me invest my energy in the real issue which ultimately saves tons of time.
What’s your favorite question? Add a comment below and let me know! I'm always looking to add to my collection!