How willing are you to ask yourself the BIG questions or to allow someone else to ask you the BIG questions? What do I mean by BIG questions? They are the types of questions that force us “to sort through the differences between our real feelings, which are often secret, and our official feelings, those on the record for public display,” as Julia Cameron describes in her book, The Artist’s Way.
In my executive coaching practice I sometimes do a little exercise with new clients the purpose of which is to help them identify the goals they need to work on during our coaching engagement. An interesting byproduct of this exercise is that inevitably the BIG questions will emerge – inevitably I say because so far it has never failed to occur. And how do I know when it is a BIG question? I know when the client sighs sheepishly and admits something like, “If I don’t take care of this one the others don’t matter.” The others, you see, are the official goals, the ones comfortable to be on the record for public display. But it’s the BIG question that identifies the real goal, the real issue.
Remember last week when I told the story about the business owner who asked when I thought the economy would turn around? Afterwards I wish I had responded instead by asking her what she is doing to turn HER economy around, how she is keeping her own business afloat. Hers is an example of the official question, the one on the record for public display. It’s no secret, everybody’s asking that one. The BIG question, though, is the one I wish I had responded with, the real one that neither she nor I had the courage to ask.
Official questions are not unimportant. Asking when the economy is going to turn around is not a trivial matter. Neither are the official goals unimportant that clients identify in the exercise I put them through. But real solutions and real success result only when we have the courage to ask the real questions, the BIG questions.
What are the BIG questions you need to be asking?