Life Skill 5. The Power of Questions
Questions are one of the most powerful tools that you can have in your life. They have the power to completely shift your focus around anything in your life; if of course you are asking the right questions as where your focus goes, your energy flows. Although asking quality questions of other people is incredible, the most important use of questions you will ever have are the ones you ask of yourself. But unfortunately for many people, they habitually ask themselves what are called limitation questions, ones like:
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“Why can’t you just get it right?”
“Why do you always do that?”
When you are constantly asking limitation questions, you are automatically directing your attention to why you feel you can’t do something or why something is not possible or how things could or will go wrong and you limit the potential of yourself.
When you switch these questions to ‘possibility questions’ when you are asking;
“How can I?”
“What is great about this?”
“What is one thing I could do right now?”
“Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right questions.”
Here are some other ways asking great questions can dramatically shift your results in life:
- Questions allow you to critically evaluate things.
- Questions can shift your entire focus about anything.
- Questions allow you to get to the core of any situation.
- Questions allow you to influence others through understanding them.
- Questions can give others the space and thought process to come to greater understandings and solutions and realizations for themselves (a great gift you can give them).
- Questions allow you to reflect on yourself or situations or experiences allowing you to come to greater understandings.
- Questions allow you to solve problems.
- Questions stimulate creativity and imagination.
These are just a few. Questions are so powerful that they can honestly change the direction of your life forever.
Of course, the greatest questions you can ask in life are the ones you ask yourself. One powerful habit I recommend you incorporate into your daily routine starting immediately is to have a set of 3-5 questions to ask yourself every morning and evening just to help direct your intentions for your day and keep you in a space of massive openness, creativity and gratitude for your life.
Here are some you might like to use or adapt from:
- If I were not scared today, what would I do differently?
- What do I want today to be about?
- What experience do I want to have today?
- If I was at the end of today already, what will I have done today to make it a great day?
- What have I been putting off doing, that if I did them they would positively impact my life?
- What can I do today to make a positive impact on those around me, on myself and on the world?
- How will I challenge and grow myself today?
- How do I want to feel today?
- What would make today a success for me?
- What can I do today to move me towards my dream life?
- Is there anything I should stop doing today or in my life?
- What is not serving me in my life that I need to eliminate or minimise?
End of day / Before bed
- What did I learn today and how might that help me in my life?
- What am I proud of?
- What am I grateful for in my life?
- What was great that happened today?
- What am I going to do differently tomorrow?
Give them a try and watch your focus and your life change around you.
Life Skill 6. Master your time
I am a nut for time management and productivity. It has been by far one of the greatest areas of learning and focus for me, which has generated mass results in my life.
Time. It is the most precious commodity on earth and is the only consistent element across the whole of humanity. We all don’t have the same opportunity or the same parents or the same finances or the same skills or the same environment around us. Yes, a lot of us can change these things and create our life any way we desire, but time is the consistent theme. So, the difference in the results you create is based on the different choices you make with the time you have.
So, learn to understand and master your time and watch your results soar in your life.
When I was 19, I met a mentor who, among other things, taught me and pointed me in the direction of making this a key study in my life and the ripple effect has been huge and it was never just about how to use time and how to be more productive. It was about prioritizing, working in your energy cycles, how elimination is just as important as management of time, working with themes, managing expectations of others and so on. I have taken the core foundation and have made productivity a study in my life since then.
I wrote an article a while ago called “The Theory of Scarcity and How It Can Change Your Life” which discussed the 3 primary resources that we have in our life in any moment which are: 1) knowledge 2) energy 3) money and the choices we make with these 3 limited resources we have in each moment is the determining factor in where your life is going to go.
Even right now, I had a choice to write this article using my knowledge and using my energy and fortunately, no money was used in this little exercise apart from a bit of power and the opportunity cost of other things I could be doing at this time. Guess what? There probably was a more dollar-productive activity I might have been able to do in this moment, but making the decision to spend my time, energy and knowledge putting this massive article together was a purposeful decision as it fulfills part of my mission in this world as a teacher and guide to help people turn their lives into something special and this is completely in line with fulfilling my mission in the world.
Here are some key areas to focus on:
1. Get clear on where you are going and what is important to you
So, many people live their life in reaction and are constantly just chasing their tails with what is in front of them right now without stopping to consider if what they are doing is effective in moving towards creating the life they truly want. The number one problem here is that most people are not even aware of what they want to create in their life. They have no guiding light or path to move towards it. It’s just kind of following a default path.
When you take the time to get clear on what you really want in life and what you value in life and then understand what are the important paths and milestones you need to take to get there, you can begin directing your time and resources towards this path by prioritizing your decisions and the key result areas you should be spending your time on.
2. Prioritization – use the time matrix
There is nothing quite as useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker
Once you give yourself a guiding light to move towards your life, you then need to decide what should and what should not be done and in what order and also what should be minimized or eliminated altogether, which is as equal importance to every other component of this.
Personally, I love the time matrix model by the late Stephen Covey, which forces you to put all of your ongoing tasks and current to do list in one of 4 categories:
- Urgent and Important – crisis management quadrant
- Important but not urgent – personal leadership quadrant
- Urgent but not important – delusion quadrant
- Not urgent and not important – distraction quadrant
You can find out more about how to use this model by checking out this: “getting through your to do list”
Getting clear on your priorities and where you should and should not be spending your time allows you to filter your decisions on how you are going to use your primary resources to create the greatest results in your life.
Here is a question you need to constantly be asking: Is this task or activity in line with the highest and best use of my time and in line with my values or not?
If you find the answer is no, then you ask, “What are the consequences of not doing it?”
3. Work within your energy cycles
This is often a much overlooked area in how people set up and structure their day. We naturally go through different energy cycles throughout the day. Some are morning people, some are night owls, some have dips in energy at certain times; some of which are physiological, some are mental, some are habitual and apart from trying to maximize your energy you also want to be structuring what activities you choose to do at different stages of your energy cycle.
I am not going to go into this in great detail here, but from a simplistic perspective, I know myself to be more of a morning person, this is where I am most alert, alive, energetic and where I am at my most creative. So, this is the time I schedule when I am doing my high creative activities such as designing content or writing articles (guess what time I am writing this right now?) creating videos or working on vision based stuff for my business. In the late avo is when I schedule time to do mundane things like checking email for example.
Again, a much overlooked component of productivity is the environment and ecosystem you set up around yourself. Look around your home and your main place of work and ask yourself if it inspires you to be your best self and inspires you to do your best. Or, is it just bland and kind of grey so to speak? This can be designed and created to be a place of inspiration where everywhere you look, you are inspired by your life, by your mission and by the world around you or whatever it means to you. I know when I am heading into a creative working period, apart from planning this around my energy cycles, I also will put on incense and certain music.
I will ensure I am working in certain places which inspire me. My home office is one. Certain coffee shops are others or even outside in a beautiful setting in nature. When we are inspired, we excel because it is a deeper part of us and higher part of us in operation. Think about all of your senses and how to engage them to create this feeling: smell, sound, touch, sight and even taste if you have a particular tea you might like or drink (obviously not one high in sugar or overloading your body continuously with too much caffeine or alcohol or anything else).
Studies show that over 40% of our day is made up of unconscious habits which we do without even thinking. On the most part, we did not set up consciously ourselves, they just happened as a way for our subconscious to lock in a pattern of behaviour we have indicated in some way is important.
This could be talking around the water cooler or extended coffee breaks, this could be getting home from work and cracking a beer straight away, or getting stuck in front of the TV or turning off the alarm clock and snoozing multiple times or what you do when you get to work or how you eat or don’t eat or whatever it else may be.
On the flip side, you have probably set up some positive and effective unconscious habits also, like building relationships without thinking about it or morning exercise or connecting with kids or your partner or dinner at the table or food choices or a morning routine or a 15 minute planning session before kicking off work.
The important thing is to become completely aware of your habits and to consciously design them and implement them into your life and set up these patterns so they ultimately become unconscious. Now, your own 40% of day-to-day activities made up of unconscious habits are one you have designed to ensure you are being the most effective you can be.
There is so much in life that we are not taught anywhere in any kind of formal education and are left to our own devices to figure it out and learn via trial and error. Maybe we are not supposed to figure this stuff out. Maybe we are just supposed to take what we have been given and follow it religiously and just do what everyone does and get the same results in life most others get and stay in line.
The people who recognise and actively learn and master these skills are the ones who excel; the ones who break away from the norm and the standard default life and turn their lives into a masterpiece of their own design.