It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you can never get the right answer to the wrong question…
An average coach will answer their client’s questions. A great coach will challenge their client’s questions. An extraordinary coach will constantly ask their clients more powerful questions.
Eat This, Not That is a book and web series that has sold millions of copies based on a simple premise. You don’t need a diet. You need better choices.
Coaches can learn from this simple premise.
You don’t need answers. You need better questions.
Ask this, not that is a high level skill that all coaches need to practice. Let’s build that skill…
What do you want?
You’d think it would be easy to answer the question, What do you want?
But we’re trained from a young age to not go after what we really, really want. You could never achieve that… That’s not safe… That’s not what we do in our family…
This question is often even more challenging for women than for men. Research shows that boys are often praised more for what they do and girls for who they are. Boys are often acknowledged for wanting what they want but young girls are taught not to want what they want. When they are older, boys who talk about what they want when it comes to sex are often seen as the coolest kids in class. But heaven forbid that a young girl should own what she wants around her sexuality. There are names that girls get called when they say what they want around sex. They’re usually not good ones.
So girls especially but most of us at some deep level, learn early on not to ask for what we really, really want.
Your job as a coach is to free your clients to ask – then to go after – what they really, really want.
The reason why is shocking when you consider it:
It’s easier to get what you really, really want than to get what you think you can have.
Invert the question…
Instead of asking yourself – or your client – What do you want? Ask, What don’t you want?
That will give you a much more actionable answer.
Inverting the question is a powerful coaching tool.
Ask This, Not That
Here are 11 question alternatives designed to invert your questions and to challenge your thinking.
- Ask: How can I grow from my mistakes? Not: How can I make safer decisions?
- Ask: How can I be more creative? Not: How can I be more productive?
- Ask: How can I make more profit? Not: How can I make more revenue?
- Ask: How can I work less? Not: How can I work more?
- Ask: How can I create clients who inspire me? Not: How can I inspire more clients?
- Ask: How can I create more leaders? Not: How can I get more followers?
- Ask: How do I implement my idea? Not: How do I perfect my idea?
- Ask: Who can I serve today? Not: How can I sell my coaching?
- Ask: What tiny step can I take? Not: How can I feel more confident?
- Ask: How can I promote my clients’ success? Not: How can I promote my business?
- Ask: How much value can I create? Not: How much should I charge?
The Hot Shot Rule
Kat Cole understands the power of powerful questions. She is the COO of Focus Brands, with a personal net worth of $100 million.
She wasn’t always successful, or wealthy. Her mother raised three kids alone, on an admin-support role salary. And Kat had two jobs when she was in high school, including selling beer and chicken wings at Hooters.
She was the first of her family to go to college but dropped out of her undergraduate program – much to her mother’s dismay – because Hooters was offering to send her all over the world to open franchise locations.
She took a big pay cut to move from being a waitress to her first corporate job with the company. But the drop in salary was worth it to get her foot in the door. And she rose fast through the corporate ranks.
By 26, she was an executive vice president, where she oversaw the growth of Hooters from $300 million in revenue to $1 billion in revenue. By 34, she was president of Cinnabon, taking it to $1 billion in revenue. Before she was 40, she was running a multi-billion dollar food empire. She’s also a startup investor and advisor, and an avid humanitarian in some of the poorest areas of the world.
Kat Cole is deeply reflective. She has created a powerful tool for herself and her company, called the Hot Shot Rule. It has 3 steps:
- Imagine that an awesomely talented new person is taking over your role. (That can be at work, or even at home).
- Put yourself in their shoes. See the job through their fresh eyes.
- Ask yourself these questions:
a. What would happen if a hot shot took over my role?
b. What’s the one change they would make immediately?
c. Why can’t I make those changes?
When you face the challenges of your business, or your marriage, or your life as a hot shot, you immediately access new perspectives, insights, opportunities and priorities. Ideas show up that you literally couldn’t see a moment before.
Kat makes sure to act on her observations within 24 hours. She also shares the results of her actions with her team — to model vulnerability, constant improvement, and a bias for action.
“It is important to have an exercise to keep pulling yourself out of your current environment and re-seeing your business and circumstances with fresh, ‘first day on the job’ eyes.” – Kat Cole
What’s the question you keep asking yourself, again and again, right now? What would be a better question?
Here’s one more simple but powerful question for you. It’s based on the bracelet that some Christians wear with four letters on it. WWJD. What would Jesus do?
This question makes life simple. Not easy, but simple.
Answering the question, What would Jesus do? means they don’t have to refer to the Bible or go to their priest, when facing a challenge. Instead, they can ask, What would Jesus do, in this moment?
My clients use a tool called WWRD. What would Rich do?
It doesn’t actually matter whether or not they guess correctly what I’d do in their situation. (In fact, their answers are often even better than what I’d come up with!) What counts is that they get out of their own thinking for a moment.
WWRD creates a fresh perspective. And from a fresh perspective comes new insights, new ideas, new opportunities.
What’s the biggest challenge – or the biggest dream you have – right now? Let me know. And then tell me: What Would Rich Do?!
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