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“Questions wake people up. They prompt new ideas. They show people new places, new ways of doing things.” ~ Michael Marquardt

When you were a child, you had a sense of wonder and thought nothing of asking lots of questions, maybe to the consternation of your parents and teachers.  You likely received mixed messages about this, one minute being praised for your curiosity, then in the next being scolded, judged and even punished. It’s no wonder you lost the capacity to ask questions from innocence and awe.

When you ask questions, you are a person who is alive and present in your life. As you choose or stay in a particular career for example, ask “Why?”  When you choose any relationship, ask “Why?”  When you make any choice, get curious about what is behind your selection or action. Consider your beliefs and values and track questions all the way to their origins so you are fully conscious.

Not only question yourself, ask others questions too. When someone wants to be in a relationship with you, ask him or her, “Why?” When someone wants to engage in business, ask them “Why?” and “What do you want?” along with “How can we best serve you?”

As you ask questions and hear both internal and external answers, you discover motivations, and limiting or expansive beliefs, including those from creativity and joy or from fear, lack, and someone else’s opinions or needs. By asking questions, you avoid operating on mindless “autopilot”.

I introduce several exercises in my work with clients, in which they have the opportunity to discover how conditioned they are in their responses, and how asleep they are to questions they should be asking in order to make appropriate decisions. With a high level of predictability, entire groups blindly draw conclusions based on outdated, irrelevant, and biased information; functioning from herd mentality, all without exploring relevant factors or questioning my behavior or their own, nor their feelings, options, beliefs and values.

My exercises make them especially aware of behavior patterns they operate from that are based on fear, limitation, unconscious bias, weak or non-existent internal motivation, blind spots, worries about image, victim-consciousness, hopelessness, inadequate inductive reasoning, shame, blame, or co-dependency. They discover that to be fully alive they must be alert and curious so they can be responsible – able-to-respond – rather than reactive.  They must wake up.

The reason so many people stop questioning is that they have been and continue to be influenced by authority figures who are not leaders. Every leader is an authority figure but not every authority figure is a leader. Leaders encourage questions, even insist on them, and they ask a lot of questions too.  Here are some key questions you should be asking before deciding or jumping into action:

Why? Why am I doing this? Why do I resist doing this? Why this relationship? Why this career? Why this choice? Why do I seek approval and acceptance? Why do I have trouble saying no? Why do I justify and defend my choices?

What?  What am I attempting to cause? What is my purpose?  What am I feeling? What do I want? What am I willing to do? What are my highest visions?  What do I believe? What do I value?

Who?  Who do I want to be? Who do I want to associate with? Who do I want to work with? Who is worthy to be with or work with me? Who can help support my visions? Who can I help support?

When? When will I be happy? When will I be good at receiving abundance? When will I decide I am worthy? When will I set and accomplish my goals? When will I ask for help? When will I help others?

Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article is published in The Women’s Journal in Judy’s column Emotional Intelligence, February 2015.