As Einstein said: “If I were about to die and I had only 1 hour to figure out how to save my life, I would spend the first 55 minutes of that hour searching for the “right question”. Once I had formulated the question, finding the answer would take only 5 minutes.”
Every day, we start a brand new year…. That makes today an excellent time for reflection, no matter what the calendar says. What question would be so powerful that it could help you focus on what matters most to you? What question would help you amplify your positive impact?
Reflection Questions for leaders, consultants, and other professionals
To trigger reflection, I asked my mailing list these four questions:
1. What is the question you want or need to explore in the new year?
2. What do you see as your main challenge or goal next year?
3. What would happen next year if you don’t change [yourself or something]?
4. What would it take to achieve your main goal next year?Reflection questions for leaders, consultants and other professionals Click To Tweet
Your Reflection Questions for the year ahead
The answers I received differed widely. To give you an impression, I share some of the questions people sent me. I’ve added “help questions” to further explore their issues.
How can I find more time to work on my side projects every week?
My help questions: Why do you want or have to do those side projects? What are the main projects and why? When would a side project be a success to you (criteria)? Would you swap one (which?) of the main projects for this particular side project? Under which conditions? What part of your day is best to switch to another activity? Do you thrive when you have uninterrupted time or do you need to vary activities? What would happen if you did not do all of the (main or side) projects? Which project might give 80% results for 20% of your time? Which is the other way around?
Where does my true inner happiness derive from and how can I access it?
My help questions: What has given you the greatest fulfillment in life? What did you love to do as a child? What do you do when you experience “flow” and time seems to be non-existent?
How can we maintain a flat organization at my current company and manage our sales team with accountability? There’s a tendency to respond with more managers and rules every time we need to adjust something.
My help questions: Who would like to respond with increasing control? What are the presumed advantages of more control? How can we let go of control? How can we avoid the disadvantages of losing/less control while we strengthen the advantages of a flat organization? How can we amplify the advantages of a flat organization?
How can I discover myself and connect powerfully with who I am? My main challenge is finding my passion because I unexpectedly lost my job and my PhD position with it.We have to ask better questions. The right question changes everything Click To Tweet
My help questions: What do others identify as your best qualities, competencies or situation that suit you best? What has given you the greatest fulfillment in life? What did you love to do as a child? What do you do when time seems to be non-existent? How much time do you have to explore yourself before you have to pay the bills again? What approach would match that time schedule? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you do if time and money were not an issue?
What is our long-term purpose and where does 2016 fit within the longer term goals?
My help questions: How will we find our purpose (what approach to use: dialogue, meditation)? When will our long term purpose be reached or fulfilled? How do we know we are getting closer (criteria)? What steps can we do in 2016 to start the journey? How can we set this intention and let things emerge regarding our purpose? How can we plan “loosely” with space for emergence? How can we work with this unfolding purpose instead of against it? How much variation do we allow on our journey? What would we like to carve in stone and what not?
As a recently graduated Gen Xer, how do I capture that elusive position that is purpose-driven and fulfilling while adequately providing for my family?
My help questions: What has given you the greatest fulfillment in life? What did you love to do as a child? What do you do when you experience “flow” and time seems to be non-existent? How much time do you have to explore before you have to pay the bills? What approach would match that time schedule? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you do if time and money were not an issue? What do others identify as your best qualities, competencies or situations in which you excelled? If there’s one person you could ask for help, who would it be? What would you ask?
How can I outsource to skillful people? Results have been disappointing so far.
My help questions: Who and what disappointed you? How and why? What did you expect? Would you need to give clearer instructions, spend more time on the hiring process, or spend more money to hire more qualified people? How could outsourcing work for you? How would you know it worked perfectly (criteria)? What would perfect outsourcing be worth to you? How can you make that happen?
How can I turn around this tendency to attempt change through template-driven methods? Templates are ignoring the social side (culture) of the workplace, and HR isn’t helping! This is the challenge that bugs me the most – how do we stop this avalanche of pre-canned models and start engaging people…EVERYONE…in the changes that make our workplaces healthy, effective, respectful communities dedicated to clear vision, mission, and values?
My help questions: Why do they prefer tick-the-box methods? Who does? Which methods have been used and with what results? Who is open to admitting their disappointing results? Who would be open to trying a social-whole-system change approach that engages everyone? How can you present the advantages of this approach? How can you diminish the concerns and disadvantages of this approach? How would such an approach help the organization reach their goals?
Thank you, for submitting your answers!How can you find more time? Choose your focus Click To Tweet
They show that we are all facing our unique questions and challenges – representing some interesting and notorious dilemmas. Most questions resonate with me, too. I’ve answered a few of them for myself, over the years. For instance, I have found my passion and created that “elusive position” for myself: to do purposeful, fulfilling work and pay my bills. But it’s too bad that those positions are still rare! This proves to me once again that we need to change our workplaces!
My answers to these Reflection Questions
As promised to my mailing list, I’d answer these four questions myself. My question to explore further is: How can I create more long-form content (such as write my next book!) while I have so many other things going on that I can’t terminate just like that.
My main challenge is to focus on content creation which I love while keeping this blog updated, managing business as usual, and consulting with client organizations on their culture change projects. How do I choose?
If I don’t change my way of working I’ll just go on being too busy and exhaust myself. I’ll become less effective and might fail to discern my 80-20 percentage. I’ll be frustrated…
What would it take to finally write that next book: I’d need to focus and choose more clearly. That’s difficult because I love doing many different things. I’d need to outsource more small tasks, block longer uniterrupted time in my schedule to write, and limit my responsiveness by email – to find the time and attention to create what I’m yearning to create 🙂
New Year’s Reflection Questions
Last but not least: here’s my standard set of ten New Year’s reflection questions. I often use them with family and friends to enjoy a meaningful New Year’s Eve so we connect on a deeper level. After the reflection, it’s time to party!
1. What did you like best about last year? What was the worst?
2. What have you learned?
3. What will you take with you to next year? What do you leave behind?
4. How many of your plans or intentions came true? What emerged spontaneously that you didn’t plan for? What is your takeaway?
5. If you’d have one word or image to describe the past year, what would it be?
6. What do you hope for next year? What do you fear?
7. What would you like to learn?
8. What would you like to achieve next year? What do you expect to be a challenge and how will you prepare yourself? Who can support you?
9. How does next year fit into your overall purpose and contribution to the world?
10. Next year, looking back, what one word or image would you hope describes this year?
Happy New Year – as every day a new year is starting and you can make a new beginning!
Copyright © Marcella Bremer 2015. All rights reserved.
Marcella Bremer is an author and culture & change consultant. She co-founded this Leadership & Change Blog and OCAI-online.com.