Do we spend too little time asking questions, and too much time offering answers?
I think we do. I think it’s a relatively universal human truth. Certainly is true in America. And — based on acculturation, it’s certainly true among American guys.
It’s an ego thing. A self-confidence thing.
We all start out with no real sense of self. When we’re babies, we literally don’t understand the difference between our own experience and the world as a whole. It’s a painful experience as we start to realize that in the grand scheme of things, we have very little control of what’s going on outside of our mind, and barely more control over what’s going on inside of it.
Going through the awkward process of growing up and maturing into an adult doesn’t help much. Others have expectations for us we fail to meet. We have our own expectations for ourselves we fail to meet.
Even as we start to successfully navigate our way through the world, we develop a tough outer shell. Everybody else looks like they’ve got things figured out. But we don’t. So we learn to play a game. We pretend like we’ve got it all figured out. Even though we’re broken and insecure on the inside. Even though we have no freakin’ clue.
(We don’t realize that everybody is broken, insecure, and totally messed up on the inside — just like us.)
So we pretend like we have all the answers. And when we don’t have an answer, we distract from the point, or blame it on someone or something else.
Cue obvious and a bit trite example: men, and directions. The man gets lost, driving his family somewhere. And he won’t stop to ask for directions. This is my point, to an extreme and in a culturally-exaggerated context.
This is a completely natural “weak ego” reaction…
When you define ego as self-concept — its original meaning — the reaction we’re talking about here is the result of a weak ego. A self-concept that’s not able to handle not being in control.
Most people are walking around with very weak, fragile egos, protected by very hard shells of socialization.
Most people can’t stand to be vulnerable.
It’s only the strong ego — the strong sense of self — that can be vulnerable and be okay with not knowing.
When you reach that point though, that’s when the important work can begin. When you’re okay with not knowing… When you’re okay with being wrong… When you’re okay with not being the smartest or most-respected person in the room… When you’re okay asking for help… When you’re okay letting the world know that you’re broken and insecure…
It’s only when your self-concept stops trying to guard itself, stops trying to be something it’s not, that you can really start to enjoy success (not just monetary, but yes, makin’ dough is part of it).
Being okay with yourself lets you ask the important questions — both of yourself and others…
It’s with this thought that I wanted to share the following article. It came up in the Optimal Living Daily podcast (a couple weeks go, I guess), but I’m going to link you to the original.
It’s written by Marc Chernoff of Marc & Angel Hack Life, a personal development blog by a husband and wife team.
The article is called 5 Simple Questions that Will Make You 5 Times More Successful.
The first question alone has me refocusing on what impact I really want to make, what I really need to do to get there, and how I can be of the most service while getting the most out of my life and business.
Read the article, and follow these directions to get the most from it!
Don’t just read the article. Sit with the questions for a while.
You can use them as meditations, where you reflect on them as you sit in silence. You can use them as journal prompts, writing out your answers. You could even use them as a basis of an email or letter you write to someone important in your life, to share yourself with them (doing this is vulnerable, but will ultimately make you more secure in yourself).
Whatever you do, make sure you actually answer them.
Then, consider how you can make answering the questions a regular part of what you do. Being reflective and mindful through these questions will ensure you’re following the right course for your life.
I’ve been reevaluating my planning and productivity, and am considering how these questions may be a part of my quarterly checkup, just to make sure I’m on the right track.
What will you do with them?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,