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7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

In our moments of weakness, we’ve all felt the effects of questioning our capabilities. We’ve questioned whether we have what it takes, questioned whether or not we are fully committed, and questioned whether we were cut out to handle things others seem to do so easily. Worst of all, we’ve even questioned whether we’ll ever be successful in life.

The truth? We do have what it takes. We can be committed, and WE ARE cut out to handle things, just like everybody else. We just need to ask ourselves the right questions–the kind that puts our focus in the right places and reminds us that we are capable.

So let’s stop using the following seven questions, and let’s replace them with good ones, shall we?

1. How can I get others to like me?

Most of us have asked this question since elementary school, so it’s no wonder that some of us still think this way.

Here’s the thing with this question, it’s okay to do things slightly differently if it means smoother interactions with others. But as soon as you start adopting interests, changing the way you dress, or changing your values, it’s a problem.

All of us want success, but it has to be personal, and it has to be our own version of success. So stop pretending and just be yourself when meeting others. Does it really count if you act like different person? You can’t really say it’s you, can you? That’d just be fraudulent.

You need to switch gears. You need to attract others who like you for you are.

Better question–Where and how can I improve my interests?

This question is great on two levels.

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  1. It’s good for self-development purposes
  2. It surrounds you with like-minded people, which is a perfect setting for building friendships

Focusing on getting people to like you is a bad strategy, but attracting others while you do something you love is smart; hobby clubs, mastermind groups, dog parks, and anywhere people meet up are great for this.

It moves you away from the “I need to impress others somehow” mentality to the “I love what I’m doing and if others are interested they can join in” one. That is the mindset of someone who wants to be successful in life.

2. What if I look stupid, what will others think of me then?

As understandable as this question is, it’s only purpose is to hold you back. You will never amount to anything if you ask yourself this kind of question.

Let’s say you’re starting a blog. You say it’s a longterm project and that it has potential to make some money. You tell your friends and they’re like “A blog? Blogs don’t make money! Who told you that silly thing?” A statement like that is pretty discouraging, right? It makes you feel insecure and even a little stupid for considering it.

But think about this: what if they said that your clothes are stupid? Should you buy a new wardrobe? Perhaps they said your family is weird; should you avoid them? No! Of course not. This is how you should treat others when it comes to any goals you want to pursue as well.

Trust me, over time you’ll develop a thick skin and be able to ignore what others think of you, and it all starts with asking the right question.

Better question–Will I regret not doing this in the future?

You want to know what people really regret in life? It’s not getting drunk and vomiting all over the place (embarrassing, yes, but not regretful), and it’s not picking your nose without realizing people are watching.

It’s not telling that girl you like her. It’s not starting up that business idea you had when you were younger. It’s not pursuing your dream job and only focusing on the “safe” career path instead. These are the things you’ll look back on when you’re on your deathbed and cause a deep, intense feeling of regret.

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You’ll regret how stupid it was of you to avoid “looking stupid.” I can actually answer that “Better Question” for you–yes, if you have to ask then you WILL regret not doing it now, so get to it!

3. What if it’s too hard and I fail?

There’s no getting around this possibility. You might fail. You might fall down head first and feel really dumb afterwards.

But does that make you a “failure?” Does messing up on the way to your goal make you a legit failure? What about messing up 10 times? 100 times? That’d definitely make you a failure, right?

If so, then let me introduce you to some “failures.” Thomas Edison, the man who created the light bulb, failed over a thousand times before having any success. Colonel Sander’s also failed over a thousand times before finding a buyer for his fried chicken recipe.

Both failed over a thousand times, yet they aren’t failures, are they? They were actually very successful in life.

Better Question–What does failure mean REALLY? Is it so bad?

Failure isn’t really failure unless you’ve given up. In fact, you should expect to mess up when pursuing goals. If you haven’t messed up then you probably haven’t really done anything yet. Here’s what the path of success looks like:

  • Idea
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess…

And so on. Mistakes allow refinement, they sharpen your approach and improve you. These kinds of lessons really stick with you since nobody likes to make mistakes, so learn to embrace your failures and let them guide you.

4. When will I succeed? When will I be successful in life?

We all have goals, things we want to accomplish. And naturally, we all want to have those things now. Lose 20 pounds, start a business, learn to play guitar–there’s lots of things we want done.

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But sometimes we focus too much on the end result. This may lead to fantasizing, giving us a false sense of satisfaction. It could also cause us to shrink away from the challenge of it, knowing it could be long and tough to do.

Either way, you get bad outcomes.

Better question–What small thing can I do today to move forward?

This question puts you in the right frame of mind. Focusing on the steps that make your goals reality is the framework for success. Your goals will have their day, but it’s what you do today that determines what day that is.

So, what can you do today? What can you do right now? Are you writing a novel? Write down one sentence. Yup, a single sentence counts if done daily. Want to get in shape? Do a single pushup. It’s all about consistency, and small tasks are the kings of consistency.

5. What if I can’t meet everybody’s expectations?

Here’s the thing, everybody has different expectations about you. No matter what you do, you’ll never satisfy everyone. So what’s the point in even thinking about this? It’s an impossible question to answer.

Better question–What behaviors should I expect from myself?

The only person you should expect anything from is yourself. Your expectations are the only ones that matter. After all, you know better than others what kind of person you want to be. Do you expect patience? Commitment? Friendliness? What? You have to choose what you expect from yourself–that’s the only way it’ll truly matter.

6. Who and what kind of person am I?

This is the kind of question you should avoid. Why? It opens the door for others to tell you what kind of person you are. Eventually you’ll just become a conglomerate of other peoples perceptions.

Better question–Who do I choose to be?

Now this is good question. It puts the power in your hands, reminding you that your actions determine who you are, not what others say. Do you want to be happy? Then do things that make you happy. Do you want to be a person who values fitness? Go exercise.

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It’s really as simple as that. Choose who want to be and perform the actions associated with that identity. Writers write, jogger jog, and you are who you choose to be.

7. Why me? Why am I in this situation?

Why oh why, indeed. Listen, it sucks that you’re in some kind of “situation.” But at some point, we all are. We all experience awful things, but we don’t have to remain a victim to our circumstances.

There is something you can do about it. I don’t know what, but the opportunity is there for you, and you won’t see it if you aren’t asking the right questions.

Better question–What actions will get me out of here?

This question exudes confidence and perseverance. It’s the kind of question that reminds us that we are in control, not circumstance. Maybe you can’t do something big, but you can (and will) do something small, even it’ll take some time.

You’re always in control of something, you just need to grasp at it to be successful in life.

Over to You

What are your personal experiences with these questions? Were you able to overcome them? How so?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your real life experiences on the subject.

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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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