If you are serious about having a successful business, you will get serious about questions! Keeping ourselves on track, creative, resilient and motivated are essential to running a successful business so how do we do these things?

I can honestly say that until 20 years ago my view was that questions were simply sentences with a question mark at the end of them – big deal! Now you cannot shut me up from talking about questions. Why is that the case, I hear you ask?

Let’s start by me sharing some interesting research that few people are aware of.

We all have something like 60000 thoughts every day and typically will have about 95% of the same thoughts again tomorrow as what we had today. How boring! It is clear that we have lots of routines and habits that ensure our thinking becomes habitual and routine and, let’s face it, many of us procrastinate and don’t deal with issues, meaning we repeat the same thoughts again and again.

Now if you are happy for you and your business to stay on the repeat cycle, this fact may not bother you. However, if you are serious about developing yourself and creating a successful business, you will want to do something about this habitual thinking, particularly when we appreciate some wise words from the Buddha about our thinking:

“You are what you think.”

Whilst I love philosophy, and recognise how profound this quote is, let’s also consider the quote in the form of a model:

Quite simply the model is telling us what the Buddha has told us for thousands of years – your thinking is really important! In fact, we can see that our thinking is creating our results and our business success will be determined by the thoughts that we are having. So having an awareness of our thinking and changing it for the better, has to be paramount to our success.

I mentioned previously that my passion is questions, so let’s check in to understand the most profound thing about a question. When I ask you a question what does it enable you to do?

I hope you shouted out – THINK!

How amazing is that! A question enables new thought and we have already learnt that when your thinking changes things in your life and business can dramatically change. A question is actually a gift! I am sure you’ve never thought of a question as a gift before but let’s acknowledge that ordinarily we don’t get many new thoughts and a new thought has the potential to powerfully, positively and profoundly change your life and business!

As a simple example I recall a time when I was struggling to feel good about my business as I had received lots of knock backs and felt demotivated. It would have been easy for me to give up on doing certain things but I asked myself a better question:

“What do I need to do to feel more motivated and persist with my idea?”

 As a result of me asking myself that question I remembered the reason I started the business in the first place and the positive outcomes I was hoping to achieve, and suddenly I felt much better and determined to succeed! The question turned the situation around and needless to say I use questions regularly to challenge myself to enable my business to continue to be successful.

There are a few ‘golden rules’ to be aware of when asking yourself questions, the first being to be mindful of asking yourself what I call a ‘better question’. This means that it is an open-ended question that directs you to think of a solution rather than keep you stuck. For example, “Why can’t I?” will loop you into excuses whereas “How can I?” will lead you towards a solution. Generally, I find that questions starting with “what” and “how” will give you the best results.

The next thing to be aware of is bringing an open mind to the dialogue you will have with yourself. Going back to the example I used before, I could easily have responded to the question asked of myself by saying that there was no point in trying again because of the know backs I’d received. However, I kept an open mind and was prepared to challenge my assumptions and in the process I was able to have a completely new and much more positive set of thoughts.

Perhaps it will be useful to remind you of one of my favourite quotes at this point:

“Your mind is like a parachute – it only works when it is open.” Anon.

My final tip that I will share with you in this article is to allow time for answers to formulate to the question you just asked yourself. Sometimes answers will be instantaneous, which is great, but if you ask yourself a thought-provoking question, it can often take a while for the answer to become apparent. So, it is essential to bring patience to your practice of self-questioning in the knowledge that your mind will answer most questions, if you can wait for the answer to come.

As a final gift to you I have listed below some great questions that you can ask yourself to enable you to create a more successful business.

  •  What can I do to enable my business to be more successful?
  • What do I need to change about myself to ensure that I get the results that I want?
  • What is the greatest vision I have for my business?
  • Who can help or support me to be more successful? What do I need from them?
  • What will I do to manage any challenges I have more effectively?

I hope by now that you are starting to share my excitement and passion for questions. Asking yourself Better Questions to challenge your thinking and create new thoughts is undoubtedly one of the most simple, yet profound ways to your personal and business success. Happy questioning!