Jessica Soroky Guest Post #8: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

How many questions are we asked in a single day?

Well, that was one.

We are questioned about our work, the status, or the progress. We are asked what we want to do or eat. We are questioned for our opinions on the new sitcom that premiered last night. We may even be asked about our intentions and desires. When you really think about it, we are faced with questions all the time.

I have realized that a question, not other people’s answers or advice, is how I get to responsibility.

So far it has always been someone else asking me questions to help me get unstuck, but what if I knew the questions to ask myself?

Last week I wrote about a horrific situation I found myself in – my friend attempted to take her own life. In that post I talked about how I came to the realization that the choice to take her life was only hers to make.

I had no control over it. All I could do was widen my acceptance and acknowledge that this reality of losing my friend, no matter how terrible, is true.

Sitting with her family at the hospital, I overheard questions from a mindset of denial and blame. I even heard a few questions that were trying to seek validation of the justification they were using.

“Don’t you think she has been through so much? It must have just been too much to handle.”

The Leadership Gift™ Program community I belong to asked me questions to help me let go of the need to feel in control of a situation I had absolutely no control over.

During the call I wrote down the concepts and questions that were being discussed on a whiteboard.

  • “Is this really my problem, or am I just afraid of the real problem – losing her – coming true?”
  • “Is this my choice to make?”
  • “Can I allow someone to feel hurt without the need to ‘fix’ them?”

I instantly started to evaluate the questions – it’s my default response. I was wondering if these were the right questions or all of the necessary questions to use when I want to get out of a rut.

Those weren’t the only questions I had asked myself in this situation, though.
Sitting in the hospital without The Responsibility Process™ poster on the wall, my mentor not guiding me, and no one asking me questions, what I asked myself was very different.

  • “How do I help her?”
  • “What was so bad that made her believe this was her only option?”
  • “How do I make sure this situation never happens again?”
  • “What do I say to her when I see her?”

All of these questions were trying to answer the same thing – how do I take control and fix the situation? Knowing now that I can’t necessarily do either of those things, I have chosen to use these types of questions as a mental red flag.

I am human. I will fall again, and I will ask myself these ineffective questions again.

So when I find myself asking questions that start with “how” or “what,” that is now a signal to myself to take another look and gain clarity over what I’m trying to do.

Am I trying to take control and own a problem that isn’t mine? Am I trying to fix something or someone?

When I answer yes to either one of these or both questions, I now consciously have a choice to change the questions I’m asking and get myself to a place of power and responsibility.

So what are the “right” questions to ask? For me it starts with, “Is this really a problem for me?” and “Is this my choice to make?” Once I decide it’s not my problem to own or control, I can then focus on the only thing I can control – my response to the situation or problem.

From my mentor and The Leadership Gift community I have learned that right and wrong are subjective. These questions worked for me when I couldn’t get above the line, so in my context they are “right.”

Will they work for you? Only you know the answer to that.

When I face a problem or a horrific situation, I look and listen to what questions I hear, and what questions I ask. Without answering them, I ask myself:

Do I want to be right or to be effective?

I can choose. And you can as well.

Jessica Soroky, CSM
Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in the The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Leadership on 10/30/2013 06:31 am
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