The Art of the Question

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
”I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you—just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
― Shel Silverstein

For the last year and a half I've been working on a draft for a new book. For months, my daily writing routine would go something like this: I'd sit down at my desk with a cup of French Press coffee, light the Glassybaby candle (in the color titled 'Courage'), stare at the computer and ask myself, "What do I want to say?"  Eventually words would go onto the page, sentences were well crafted...and.... it never felt quite right. It didn't feel like the dreaded writer's block either, as I was writing, adding pages daily. One morning, as I was heading to my desk, a different question slipped inside. 

"What wants to be heard?"

"What wants to be heard?"

Sitting down, as I listened for the answer, words began to flow from someplace
deep within, from a place I hadn't accessed before. That new question opened the door to a new space. It hadn’t been writer’s-block. It was listener’s- block. Wordsbegan to fall together with an ease, and when they didn’t, rather than push forward,I would push my chair back and listen some more. That manuscript is now in the hands of a skilled editor, making its way toward publication.  It will be a better book with a more powerful message because I discovered a better, more powerful question.

In twenty-something years of coaching and facilitating, if I've learned only one thing, it is that people can almost always find their way to their own answers. My job is to create the space within with they can engage in their own courageous thinking in order to hear their own courageous answers. The right question, at the right time is an invitation to step through our own inner doorway and into that space so that we can hear ourselves think. I can tell when I've posed the right question to a client or a roomful of clients, because there is almost always a look of "knowingness" that crosses their faces. They know the answer because they've been asked the right question.

The questions we ask lead to the answers we find. Typical questions usually lead to typical answers. Usual answers lead to usual actions.  Common actions lead to common outcomes. Typical questions for most of us might include: What do I need to do now?  What should I say in that upcoming conversation, meeting or relationship?  Where to I need to go next?  What do I need to change?  How do I need to improve?  Like my writing experience, might there be better, more powerful questions that lead to better, more powerful answers? While I truly believe that we need the voices and wisdom of others, I also believe that we are in deep need of our own inner voice and wisdom.  We gain access to that by developing the art of the question.

Today is an invitation to engage in your own courageous thinking. It is a call to listen deeply to the voice inside. It is a summons to discover the answers waiting on the other side of the right question. In the near future, maybe right now, find a quiet space. Close the door, silence your phone, turn off the computer, and consider the following questions.

What wants to happen in my life?

What wants to be heard in that upcoming meeting? Conversation? Relationship?

What places are calling me to more exploration?

What wants to transform in my life?

What wants to grow?

What wants to be known?

What (thoughts, stories, habits, fears) have I been clinging to that want to be released?

There is just one more question to consider:  What is the question that wants to be answered?

Settle in. Get quiet. Listen. The voice you hear will be your own.