How Asking the Right Questions Can Lead to Incredible Results
There’s an old computer science adage that states “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (also known as GIGO). It means that if you put faulty data into a computer program, no matter how advanced that program may be, the resulting output will be worthless. The quality of the output is directly determined by the quality of the input.
This is true for every computer, including the most powerful one you’ll ever use — your own mind.
Every day, every hour, every second, we are in the process of programming our onboard computer. Everything we experience is raw data that will go into our minds for processing, and then inform our behaviors and actions accordingly. The human mind is an amazing machine and will work automatically to find answers to any question we ask of it. A crucial thing to remember is that our subconscious is always on the job, ready to process information for us to use. It’s constantly listening, waiting for the next question.
As the head programmer for this amazing computer, we have to be ready to ask it the right questions.
While some of the things we experience might be outside of our control — the morning traffic jam we hit, the team member who called in sick, the unexpected objection our customer just pulled out of the blue and so on — what is in our control is how we frame that data before it enters into our mind.
To put it in GIGO terms, the way we shape the questions we ask our minds to solve is as important, if not more so, than the actual question. The trap many people fall into is asking low-quality questions and then wonder why they get answers that don’t actually solve anything.
The most successful people I’ve had the privilege to be around have mastered the art of asking themselves positive questions so that their onboard computer has the highest-quality data to work with.
For instance, take the following questions:
• “What could I do to improve my performance, make the sale and get higher commissions — how can I up my game?”
• “What will I do to improve my performance and make more sales to increase my income ?
At first glance, these two questions appear to be asking the same thing. However, pay attention to the tone of the questions. The first is coming from a negative point of view. This will color the answers our mind will generate. Answers to this question might include:
• “We don’t stock the right inventory.”
• “The customers never seem ready to buy.”
• “The economy in our area is poor.”
This negative question gives us answers about things outside of our control; therefore, the answers are not useful.
Now think of some answers to the second question:
• “I need to get better versed on our inventory.”
• “I should practice listening better so I can form a better rapport with my customer.”
• “I could benefit from some coaching from my manager.”
These are positive steps to take that can solve the issue. This question yields only positive results and gives us items to work on that are within our control.
The questions we ask ourselves during any event in our lives — consciously or subconsciously — determine how we think. Whether those questions are positive or negative, they will affect our point of view, our thoughts and our opinions. This, in turn, determines our feeling about the event. Our feelings directly influence our behaviors, and this determines the results we get in life.
It’s easy to fall into negative ways of thinking. There are days where the entire world seems to prefer casting blame rather than finding solutions. It’s critical that we monitor our own inner monologue — our “self-talk” — during the day and, if we catch negativity creeping in, turn it around and start asking better questions. It takes practice to avoid this pitfall, but it’s well worth it.
By harnessing the power of the fastest, most powerful computer on the planet, we can solve problems, find solutions and build our careers — and our lives — into something we can take pride in. Through effort, awareness and repetition, we can better program our onboard computer with high-quality questions and reap the benefits of the results it provides.
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