They say the key to leadership is not about having the answers, it’s about asking the right questions. And this is true for all aspects of life and business. Asking the right questions means firstly really listening to the people and situations around you, but also that you are actually creating the mental space for contemplation. And that might sound pretty simple, but in today’s fast paced world people are barrelling through life with barely enough time to eat or catch their breath, let alone think to themselves ‘is there a better way?’
Tim Ferriss, best-selling author (and who also has a fantastic podcast) is a professed lover, and collector of questions. ‘What would this look like if it were easy?’ is one of his favourites and is something we like to muse on too. We get so conditioned to feeling like achievement needs to come through hard work, through challenge, but maybe sometimes it’s putting on a different lens to create real breakthrough?
“What would this look like if it were easy?” ― Tim Ferriss
This question also plays into the Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule. 80% of your results are coming from 20% of your efforts, likewise potentially 80% of your issues are coming from 20% of your clients.
Now we know full well when you are starting out sometimes you don’t have the luxury of knocking back work, early days you might have to say yes to everything and then get more discerning down the track.
But still it’s helpful to at least be aware of what efforts are generating greater returns (and that’s not necessarily just financial).
APPLYING THE 80/20 RULE
Considering the 80/20 rule and ‘what would this look like if it were easy’ in terms of:
- YOUR OFFERING. Do you have products or services that take a lot more time but return a smaller margin?
- YOUR CLIENTS. Do you have clients that are much higher maintenance, but that also happen to have the smallest budgets?
- YOUR TEAM. Do you have issues that are arising from particular people because they aren’t the right fit for your business? What is the long term cost to your business?
- YOUR MARKETING. What efforts are generating the best results? What if you focused on those and put everything else to the side for a while?
- YOUR POSITIONING. Is your real point of difference being lost amongst a sea of other messages? What if you created a real laser focus in how you are presenting yourself?
Putting aside time to really simmer on this can create some a-ha moments that fundamentally shift your time and energy.
So create a routine where you do take some time out. We find in addition to a daily journaling practice that a full day every 3 months for some serious reflection and blue sky thinking is good.
Other questions to explore
We have some other favourites to share. Some might speak to you now, some might be for another time. But having the right question, at the right time can be really powerful in terms of shaping your future.
- What am I not doing consistently, that if I did would have the biggest impact?
- What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
- If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to?
- If I restarted my business today, what would I do differently?
- How can I provide more value to my customers?
And some great questions in terms of relationships from Jerry Colonna:
- What am I not saying that needs to be said?
- What am I saying that’s not being heard?
- What’s being said that I am not hearing?
These questions are really powerful, especially when there may be some conflict or unresolved tension you are dealing with.
They are useful when providing feedback to employees, or maybe dealing with a difficult customer situation.
We would love to hear if you have your own favourite questions! Different questions help different people at different times. The most important thing? That we are all taking the time to actually ask questions in the first place.
Jodie + Em xx