How your success depends on the right question
Do you remember when you were a young child at school, and your teacher asked you what you would like to become when you grow up?
I don’t know what your answer was, but whatever you said, did you make it?
When we are young, we don’t know what it means to be a fireman, a train driver, a teacher or any other job for that matter. We have something in our head; some story that sounds cool and we go with it.
As we grow up life starts to happen. We start developing our fears, our restrictions and we put ourselves in some box and put a label on it describing who we are and what we can do.
Real life reality check
If what we decided to become as a child doesn’t fit into this box we will most likely never make it.
I don’t know why we’re asking this question to young children in the first place. Maybe it’s more for the pleasure of the parents than for the children: ‘Oooh, my child wants to live on Mars, I am so proud!!!!’
What I do know is that this kind of question is the wrong question to ask.
Let’s say you want to become a train driver as a child, but when you grow up, you realize that it isn’t really for you and you would never make the kind of money you would like to make. It might even be that there are no train drivers anymore because technology has taken over that job.
I think these questions don’t make any sense. They are far too fixed and restrictive – and based on so many changing factors.
So, what kind of questions should we ask?
The answer is in the question
A few years ago I met a teacher at a local school who completely changed the way I think about questions. He asked the children the following question:
‘What problems would you like to solve when you grow up?’
The reaction from the young children was amazing. They started talking about the problems they face in their life and how they would solve them. The solutions weren’t specific jobs, but a whole bunch of actions and ideas. There was something for everyone.
Isn’t it funny how asking different questions puts a very different aspect to the same thing? If you think about your work, your job or your business, ask yourself: ‘What problem am I solving?’
If you want to do something else, stop asking what to do. Instead ask: ‘What problem do I want to solve?’
It opens up so many options and possibilities for how you could do this. It is only limited by your skills and talents and not by some box that was defined by someone else (or yourself for that matter). And your skills are not limited by what you know now because you can learn anything you want to learn.
The point is to look for a cause and not for a job.
By changing the question to the impact you want to make instead of actions limited by some box (a job description), you open yourself up to new opportunities and new solutions.
What problem do you want to solve?