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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    The Right Questions

    “What do you want me to do?” Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs sometimes empowers his players by stepping back, and letting them figure out their next step in the game. They’ve risen to the occasion by giving “Coach Pop” 16 consecutive winning seasons, more than any other active NBA coach.

    “How to you turn this company from aid provider to economic development? Blake Mycoskie, CEO of TOMS Shoes faced this question during a two year break from running his company, during which he reflected on his future role. The answer? He’s started TOMS Roasting, which sells beans in grocery stores, and in his branded cafes. Mycoskie found that coffee farmers provide the best economic development in the countries to which they donate. So to continue his model of “buy one give one”, for each bag sold TOMS will provide one week of clean water to a person in need, and for each beverage sold they will provide one day of clean water. Water is the number one ingredient in premium beans, yet many people in these countries lack clean water for their personal use.

    “When are you going to drop the ‘interim’ title?” Jay Stein, then Interim CEO of Stein Mart, an off-price retail store, was asked this question several years ago by a reporter. Jay is the grandson of founder Sam Stein who started the family store in the early 1900s, and now boasts $1.3 billion in sales from 266 stores, with another 25 in the works. Jay had retired after heart by-pass surgery thinking that someone else could do a better job running the company. But after three failed CEOs he stepped in again on an interim basis.  This reporter’s question caused an epiphany as he recognized the negative impact of continuously shifting and ineffective leadership. His response? “Right now.” They made a public announcement and the organization has moved smoothly forward.

     


    The Power of a Question

    These are examples of the right questions; powerful questions that once answered, provide direction, clarity and purpose. They’re necessary for our continual development and well-being; indispensable and essential for our growth. The right questions may ask What, Why or How. They’re designed to coach, facilitate and motivate others to think deeply into their situation and determine their next steps. My friend Christian Simpson, an internationally acclaimed expert in professional coaching, describes this as effective questions that invite the person to a greater level of discovery, clarity and action. Properly posed and authentically answered, they create buy-in to the future.

    Whether in a group meeting or one-on-one dialogue, the right questions can refocus the discussion, reenergize the conversation and restructure the approach. They can cut to the heart of the issue; cause you to stop and think about what you’re doing and why; and challenge you to make the right decision for the right reason.

    The Right Perspective

    So possibly you’re wondering how you can leverage the power of the right questions to have more productive business and personal discussions, ensure alignment of specific decisions with your vision or mission, generate increased business, or to coach others towards success.

    Asking the right questions is a matter of perspective. It requires an objective look at the situation, or the ability to step back for a moment and view the proverbial forest instead of the trees. It may require a deeper look into the future. It requires greater interest in letting the other party find the right answer, than in you telling them what to do. It’s a matter of getting them to think through their priorities, objectives, and strategies and come to their own realization of their necessary actions. It may require listening deeply to what is not specifically stated, to the underlying motivating principles and priorities. It may involve asking the question that is screamingly obvious to you that no one else dares to ask or that everyone else is blinded to; or probing deeper into the circumstances and thought processes of the people involved.

    The right questions also require the right timing for the respondent to be receptive. I had a discussion with a client several months ago regarding a colleague that he continually wanted to include in meetings. The colleague was well known in certain business circles and brought a level of credibility to his team, but the colleague’s area of specialty wasn’t well aligned with this client’s business goals. Finally, the timing was right for me to directly ask what value this colleague added. The client thought for a moment and came to the realization that there was no value, but he now owned the decision. Similarly Coach Pop’s timing in letting his team figure out the right next strategy helped them to better understand how to apply their skills to the challenges on the court.

    Blake Mycoskie and Jay Stein’s right questions helped them make major decisions in their work and their lives. They didn’t avoid the response but embraced it and experienced growth. So appreciate and value the people in your life who are insightful and who venture to ask you the right questions

     

    Read more about Gregg Popovich  here.

    Read more about Blake Mycoskie here

    Read more about Jay Stein here

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    Copyright 2014 Priscilla Archangel

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    Google God

    Article first published as Google God on Technorati.

    The digital age has greatly increased the amount of information the average human can access and consume.  Today, we can sit down at our laptops, pull out our iPads, or walk along with our smart phones, and Google, Bing, or use any other search engine to inquire on a topic of interest. Answers to questions we wouldn’t even think of asking a decade ago, are now at our fingertips within seconds. All this serves to increase our curiosity level, and feed a desire for even more information. But how much information can we consume and store, and what do we really do with it all?

    A recent study published in Science, and summarized by Carl Bialik in the Wall Street Journal (click here to read more) indicates that the world’s capability to store, communicate and compute information has grown by 23% each year since 1986. Search engines and other tools enable us to more easily filter and process this information. A further study at The University of Michigan found that in 2005 “people spend one minute consuming media for every 1,000 minutes available” which is about ten-fold the rate in 1960.  This storage capability is measured in exabytes, which Google tells me is equivalent to one quintillion bytes.  That’s the number one (1) with 18 zeros after it.

    Istockphoto

    But here’s the really amazing part.  While we humans work to categorize, store, quantify and access all this information, God already holds all the information of the world’s past, present and future.  He knows it, understands it, sorts it, applies it, and analyzes it, faster than we can imagine. He has videos of everything in our past and our future because He planned it and saw it happening.

    We use search engines to access facts, information and opinions; concrete data that men and women use to manage their environment.  God goes beyond that to store thoughts, feelings, purposes, plans and pursuits; the intimate details of the spirit of man.  Even if I kept a journal of my life, I could never write down every experience, every thought, every desire that I’ve had throughout my life. Yet God knows it all, and He knows what’s best for me because He created me.

    Often I wish that God had a search engine like Google that I could ask any question and get an immediate answer.  I’d ask about the “whys” of my past, and the “whats” of my future; I’d ask about the “whens” of His provision, and the “hows” of His plans.  The same overwhelming desire to access and consume data in the natural realm would quickly translate to the spiritual realm. But alas, it doesn’t work that way.  God wants us to ask Him, but receiving the answer is our opportunity for growth, as we learn to listen to His voice; read His Word; and follow Him in new ways.  Why can’t we just get an instant response from Him?  Because we probably couldn’t handle it. Because His thoughts are so much higher than ours, His ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) that He has to prepare us for what He’s doing in our lives and for where He’s taking us.  Our minds think simple thoughts in comparison to His, and would not be able to register what He was saying.

    Consider Moses, whom the Lord spoke to from a burning bush about returning to Egypt to speak to Pharaoh about freeing the Israelites.  Moses made multiple excuses for why he was the wrong man for the job.  God became exasperated with him, finally telling him that his brother Aaron would assist him. He indeed went on to convey God’s message to the King of Egypt and eventually led a multitude of people out of Egypt toward the Promised Land.

    When I began my career 28 years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I had no concept of the things I would accomplish, the people I would meet and influence, the places I would work, or the leadership roles I would hold. I’m smart enough at this point to know that even though He’s given me a glimpse of my future, God hasn’t shared everything.  I’m simply able to better trust and follow Him now, without a burning desire to know everything.

    So I can Google God.  I can ask Him any question I want. But I know His answer is a process that will come when I’m ready for it, and His answer is always perfect for me.

    Copyright 2011 Priscilla Archangel, Ph.D.

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