Asking the RIGHT questions can CHANGE YOUR LIFE. The kind of questions you ask yourself every day can completely form your life so if you want to be happier, achieve your goals and discover what you want to do with your life and how to be successful at it, just ask yourself a different set of questions. So says Marilee G Adams, PhD and founder of the Center for Inquiring Leadership and author of "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work".
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work discusses "Question Thinking" which is a technique for asking the right questions for us to achieve our personal goals - whether that's about money, relationships, weight-loss, self-confidence or career issues and more. It's been called a self-development "treasure chest" for its simplicity and easy-to-follow instructions. The process is written like a story - similar to the best-selling 'Who Moved By Cheese" book although it's a little bit longer and tells of a conversation between a ordinary guy called "Ben Knight" who struggles both at work and home with the stresses and strains that will be familiar to most people - concerns about being a good husband, father, worker, boss and a lack of confidence to get ahead at work, a desire for a good career and more money amongst other things.
The Chapters are headed:
2. Moment of Truth
3. A Challenge Accepted
4. Discovering Learner and Judger Questions
5. Kitchen Talk
6. Seeing with New Eyes, Hearing with New Ears
7. Accept Judger, Practice Learner
8. When the Magic Works
9. Ben's Breakthrough
10. Amour! Amour!
11. The Inquiring Leader
12. The QuestionThinking Workbook
Each chapter is concise, keeps to a specific point and makes for easy reading. I like the big text boxes that appear throughout stating key points such as "question everything" and "QuestionThinking is a system of tools for transforming thinking, action and results through skilful question asking - questions we ask ourselves as well as those we ask others".
There are also clear illustrations at key points in the book such as a 'choicemap' which is a simple representation of the questions and paths you can follow. Actually if you bought the book and simply turned to page 32 - I think you would find this roadmap alone worth the price of the book.
The Introduction talks about the central premise of the book. Which, simply put, is to ask yourself a different set of questions when faced with an uncertain or challengingly situation. The author talks abouta lady from her workshop called Susan who hated her boss. Susan's 'troublemaker' questions were 'What's [my boss] going to do wrong this time?" and "How's he going to make me look bad". Marilee asked Susan to use a different set of questions instead when faced with her boss such as "What can I do to make my boss look good". Susan talks of an almost miraculous change in her relationship with her boss - to the point that she and her boss now sat on the same committee and she also gained a promotion.
There follows a quick explanation of the QuestionThinking process and how it can shift your perspective. It presents two paths - a learner path and a judger path. A judger path is often the typical path we take when faced with a particularly challenging situation or a sense of hopelessness. Judger questions might include "what's wrong with me", 'what's wrong with them?" "why am I always such a failure", "why are they so stupid" "who's fault is this". A learner path is solution focused and looks for a win-win relationship - learner questions include "what can I learn?", "What is the other person wanting, feeling, needing?", "what's useful here", "what do I really want", "what are my choices", "what am I responsible for". This choice map is not about putting people into a box "judger" or 'learner", it's about charting a more effective path through our lives at nearly every instant, emotion or dilemma. The idea being -
If we can't manage our own thinking, how can we really manage anything else?
The book talks about how 'Ben Knight' uses this process both at work and at home in his struggling marriage. At certain point when you're feeling very uncertain, there are 'switching questions' that can quickly put you onto the learner path. There is also an easy-to-remember Choice Process called A-B-C-C which gives you a step-by-step decision-making process.
A-B-C-C stands for "Aware" - that's when you consider if you're in a judging path or a learning path. B = Breathe i.e talk a pause and look at the situation more objectively if you have to. C = Curiosity which means considering all the options and facts. C = Choose which lets you make the right choice having gone through the proper process.
"A question not asked is a door not opened"
Possibly the most useful part of the book comes at the end with the QuestionThinking workbook. This contains seven tools which form the QuestionThinking process. For each section, there are specific practice exercises and a list of the top twelve questions required for change in a useful one page section you can stick up on your wall as a handy reference.
This book is not designed to get you out of a big depression, but it's a useful tool if you:
- are stuck in rut
- feel like you are getting nowhere in aspects of your life
- feel like you're a loser
- feel like the world is against you
- lack confidence
- have a lot of 'mind' clutter in your head: worries, frets and just 'noise'
- don't know what to do with your life
- have relationship issues
- can't get on with your boss or coworkers
- feel constantly overlooked and underappreciated at work
- don't feel good enough
- want to be more successful but don't know where to start
- get stressed out easily
- want a gentle-way into self-development and mindfulness
- need practical, simple help
- feel short of time and don't wade through a heavy textbook
The reviews and real user experiences of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work have been largely positive. The book has a 4.5 out of 5 star user rating from Amazon.com and has been hailed as a book that rises above many mindfulness resource books as it offers practical advice and lots of "a-ha!" moments.