I woke up early this morning having just returned from six full and crazy days in New York City. The last three days were spent at our Women Moving Millions Annual Summit. I tried really hard not to wake up early as I landed more sleep deprived than any time in my life, but since I knew I was likely going to experience idea driven insomnia, I put a notebook beside my bed. Not just any book, but the RED WMM one that I had been feverishly writing notes in for the past six days. Feverishly. You know you have attended something special when you break out that second note-book on the way home because your computer is not available during take-off and landing.
So I grasped around in the dark to find that pen and paper and start scribbling madly what I just dreamt about. Am I the only one whose nightmares are not about getting eaten by a lion or some such thing but rather waking up knowing I had a BRILLIANT insight, idea or to do item and then not being able to remember it the next morning? So what woke me up this morning was a head full of questions, and this was the last one before my eyes popped open – WHY in the heck have I been asking all the wrong questions for so long? I wrote only that one in my book, then laid my head back down. Nope, sleep was not gonna happen so I leaned over and started writing down all the wrong questions I could remember from my dream. When it was obvious there was no going back I climbed out of bed, grabbed the damn book, and headed for the coffee maker.
So the right question for the question above is “what was I doing that made be wake up after three hours of sleep, after 4 days of not having more than 4 hours of sleep each night?” The answer is that I was in New York having meetings with people to talk about what I do which is help mobilize unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls. The context I do that in is AS CEO of Women Moving Millions and the President of our family foundation. I went from two days of solid back-to-back meetings, to our board meeting, to our three-day annual summit which ended yesterday at 1 pm. I then had another flurry of meetings followed by a five-hour plane ride where I vomited thoughts and ideas in to my book and computer (I have never typed so fast). The dude beside me was like ‘ what the heck is wrong with you?” The better question would have been “what are you writing so feverishly about?” ( you can see how this can get annoying very quickly) So I arrived at 1:30 EST to my home in Utah, wrote for another two hours, and then thinking I had it all, went to bed.
So of all the things that I wrote in my red notebook over the past few days, and puked in to my computer why is this the article I am writing first? (I literally have about 20 articles/blogs/personal journal entries waiting for me to share including one on “Why do I have this unrelenting need to share?” Another is “Why don’t we do what Gloria Steinem just told us we should and could?” she was a guest and a speaker at our event ) The reason is that what got me thinking about the question, of bad questions, was a good question. Instead of starting our summit by asking people to stand up and say a few words about themselves, we asked everyone to stand up and answer this question: “what are you hoping is the outcome of this gathering for you ( in one word)?”
In other words – “What are you seeking from this experience?” We then expanded it a little inviting each person, one by one, to stand up and introduce themselves using the following format: “my name is ______. I am and always will be a _____ and I am seeking ___.”
This opening question shifted so much that followed in such a profound way and is one of the reasons why I left having to write pages and pages and pages about what I learned, and now have to do. ( then of course we had three days of amazing conversations, speakers, and panels)
So all of THAT will all be fodder for many articles to follow but allow me to share all the questions I scribbled in the dark then expanded over many cups of coffee. Some are questions to ask others, and many are to ask only yourself. Please add your own to the comment section and let’s all learn together how to ask much better questions!!!! Good questions help to to think about why we believe what we believe, help us to know what we know, help us to know what we don’t know, help us to own our voice, help us connect to our passion and help us to be more open to change.
So here are some of my examples of – Not great questions / better questions.
What do you do? What do you love to do?
Where do you live? Why do you live there?
Why are you here? What do you hope is the outcome of you being here?
Do you have children? What is your favorite thing about your child?
Tell me about yourself. Tell me something about yourself that few people know but you are ok sharing with a complete stranger
What is wrong with you? What do you love about yourself?
What can I get from you? What can I give to you?
What have you accomplished? How did you accomplish that?
What are your measurable outcomes of your work? What is your theory on how change happens?
Why am I falling asleep doing this? Why can’t I go to sleep because I am doing this?
Why is this person making me feel bad? Why am I reacting badly to this person?
Why did I let that person get away with treating me like that? Why did I not tell that person how that made me feel?
What are the lessons you have learned? How did you learn a great lesson?
Why do we want to lead with our bios? And not our passions?
What do I hope this person won’t find out about me? What do I hope this person leaves knowing about me?
Why am I talking at this person? And not listening to this person’s story?
And just some other great questions that I wrote in my notebook. I will stream these to save space. What can we do together? Why don’t so many more people care about what I care about? What are the barriers? Why don’t people do things that lead to better outcomes? What might help them do so? If there is one thing I can do for you, what would that be? Who have you not met, that I might know, that I can introduce you to? What are the three words you would use to describe yourself? What is one idea you have that you don’t know what to do with? What is the one idea you have that you wish you had time to take forward? Why don’t you have time for that? Why are you choosing to be here instead of somewhere else? If you had to pick one person, who is your favorite person on the planet? Why am I the person that ALWAYS has to be the one asking the question after someone speaks at a gathering? Why am I never the person to put my hand up to ask a question? Does my team give me feedback on how I can be a better leader? What is the best question someone ever asked you about yourself? What is the question you hope no one ever asks you about yourself? Did I do something nice for someone today? Why don’t I think big enough? Why am I not more generous? Did someone do something nice for me and did I thank them? When someone tells me something I can do better, how do I generally react to it? Especially when it is constructive? ( tip: thank them, even if you disagree and it hurts) What is the one question, is if we had an answer to, the whole world would so much better off for? Let’s end with that one.