“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance.” Albert Einstein
To translate Albert Einstein’s beautiful quote to something we can chew on, I propose this — if you can ask yourself difficult questions and make yourself think, you will find all the answers within yourself.
Very recently, I’ve come to make huge life-altering decisions in only a few days. That’s not to say I didn’t think through them carefully — it’s actually because I thought through them so carefully and asked myself the right questions that I am able to make these decisions confidently.
For example, a few days ago, I decided to reshuffle the responsibilities and roles at my startup. It was a huge decision to make, but I did it happily after answering questions like:Advertising
- Why haven’t I done this already? What pain do I avoid in delaying this?
- What will it feel like after I’ve made this decision? What pleasure will I enjoy in making the jump?
- Does this decision feel liberating — or limiting?
These questions may seem trivial to you, but sitting down to put these ideas on papers made me face the facts — I was avoiding this out of pure fear. It was time to make a change, and I’m very happy with the result — because I got cozy with difficult questions long enough to hammer out the answers I knew all along.
Finding the Answers — Your Action Plan
If you want to find the answers within yourself, here are the steps I suggest for attacking the toughest questions:
1. Be open to questions and to figuring it all out.
Becoming more self-aware is critical to solving problems, but being open to that self-awareness is vital.
Without making the decision to become open and honest about finding the answers, the water will run through the tubes, but the faucet won’t let any of it trickle out. It’s easy to become closed off from introspection and questioning.Advertising
If I hadn’t decided to truly question myself and face my answers with conviction and the desire to make a change, I probably would not feel as liberated and purposeful as I do right now. It’s scary, I admit. But it’s also incredibly exhilarating.
2. Find the right questions.
Sometimes, the right questions can come from a family member inquiring about our decisions — not fun, but certainly valuable. Other times, though, the right questions come in the form of resources we hadn’t really considered.
When I was writing a book proposal a few months ago, I didn’t know where to begin. After some serious Google searching, I found a great resource to start soul-searching — a workbook by Danielle LaPorte. This amazing workbook asked me a series of questions that helped me think through my proposal, structure it, and get down on paper what I already had floating around my mind. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the workbook helped me make it concrete.
Since that experience, I’ve come across many worthwhile workbooks on the web. I’ve even been inspired enough to develop my own iPhone app (called QuestionUp) to ask the right questions for each type of problem.Advertising
It’s an amazing experience when a workbook, an app, or even a friend asks you a question that stumps you — and then inspires you.
3. Sit down to think through the answers.
The format you prefer depends on your personal taste — and your mood. Sometimes, I use pen and paper, but other times I use an app. The important string that holds them all together is the desire to be at peace with the process of answering each question.
(Tip: For those who can’t disconnect completely, I recommend software to help you block certain websites — or block your entire internet connection! It really helps me focus when I can’t do it on my own.)
Whether I sit down with a notebook, my laptop, or an app, the process is always the same. Each question crashes over me like a wave, but then smooths out and leaves me with serene waters and a lighter heart — ready for the next one.Advertising
All in all, I find looking within ourselves and searching for our own answers is a resource many do not appreciate. Before you look outside of yourself today, take a moment to look inside. It’s amazing what you might find.
Is there a technique you use to find all the answers within yourself? If you know of any good resources, please share them in the comments!
Featured photo credit: checked the box by symbol of tick in selection via Shutterstock
Last Updated on April 8, 2020
Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver
Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.
Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.
Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda. How we got wronged by someone else. How a friend could have been more respectful. How a family member could have been less selfish.
However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.
The leap happens when we realize two things:
- The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
- The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.
Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world. There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:
My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.
In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.
“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality. But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.
Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.
More Tips About Building Positive Relationships
- How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life
- 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships
- The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You
Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com