I’ve heard it said from numerous sources that we are only as successful as the questions we ask. Perhaps Rick Warren said it best in a TED Talk years ago: “Great innovation comes from great questions.” The same can be said of great relationships, great mindsets, and even great blog posts (seriously, a lot of my writing comes from asking questions).
So, what questions are you asking yourself and others?
What questions should you ask? If you don’t know what questions you should be asking, the list below will get you started on the right track.
The 6 questions I ask every day
1. For what am I thankful today?
This goes back to the first of 16 simple things you can do to make this a great day. Ask yourself the simple question, for what am I thankful today?
Go ahead and list a few things. Write them down if possible. Keep a gratitude journal. Or say them out loud when you can.
Not only does it remind you of how truly blessed you are, but long-term asking this question daily makes you a more positive and productive person.
2. What have I been complaining about that I can reframe?
I recently had a client who was very late in paying me. This ate at me and my wife, Tara. It was the topic of many discussions and a cause of worry and complaining. Until I decided to reframe it.
All of my other clients are always on time. I am blessed to not be dependent on that one client. Imagine if they were an employer and they were late. Nothing else would be coming in. It took away the stress…and sure enough, they soon paid.
We recently gave my car to my father-in-law and for weeks (literally until very recently), I complained about not having a car. We want a very specific type that is hard to find around here. Finally, after weeks of complaining, annoying Tara and even myself, I reframed it.
What a blessing we get to be to him. How cool is that? We are a blessing to someone. Not many people just get to give a car to someone! Cool.
In this question, do a little soul searching, find things you are complaining about, and seek out ways to reframe them.
NOTE: You may have to do this multiple times with one complaint. I’ve already had to do it a few times with the car.
3. Who can I help (and how)?
Want to build a killer network? Ask this question every day.
Want to enjoy life more and find purpose? Ask this question every day.
Just think of one way to help one person. That’s it.
NOTE: Sadly, I had to remind myself recently that my answer should probably be “my wife” more often. Don’t make this too complicated or make it all about networking or business. Make sure your family and friends make up at least 14% (that’s one day a week) of your answers.
4. Who can help me today?
We’re coming out with a new t-shirt. (It will be available this week.)
I’m a decent designer and like to think I know my stuff, but picking the right design is hard. So what did I do? I asked people. Friends, family, and a lot of you. You helped pick the design! (Thank you, by the way).
Odds are there is something you are struggling with. Maybe it’s a personal battle. Perhaps it’s a relationship issue at work or maybe you’re just stuck with how to finish your book.
Whatever it is, identify your top problem and then think of who can help. Then ask that person for help.
Every single day, ask someone for help with something.
It’s not about being a taker. You’ll avoid that by doing #3 and #5 (see below). This one is all about efficiency. When you ask for help, you are able to do things much faster.
5. Who can I introduce today?
Every day I make it a goal to introduce two people to each other. It doesn’t always work out that way. Some days, I ask myself this question and draw a blank.
But most days I can think of two people to introduce to each other. Maybe it’s introducing a fellow blogger to a podcaster I just interviewed with or someone I met who does e-book layouts to someone I know who is writing a book.
When you do this almost daily, you create a web of relationships. In networking, 1 + 1 = 2, but 1 + 1 + 1 = infinite possibilities.
Before long, you’ll have a massive, yet intimate, network. (Related: How to keep your network warm)
6. Who can I thank?
In case you haven’t figured out by now, there are two words which I feel are more powerful than any others:
Every day, spend a moment thinking of someone you can thank. Then do it. In a handwritten note on fancy stationery, on a post-it, in an email, or written in dry erase marker on a mirror. Just do it.
If you need some inspiration or ideas on who to thank, join the Thank You Revolution. Each week, I will share an inspiring story, tip, or idea that will increase your gratitude and help you to be recognized by those in your network.
Action item: Pick one task that you are currently doing that you can delegate to a member of your team. Pick one question to start asking daily today. Add one question every two weeks. Record the results. I suggest starting with question #1 and proceeding in numerical order, but pick the order that is best for your needs.
Bonus question: What do I need to stop doing?
I don’t ask this one every day, but I do recommend it at least twice a week. It might be the most important question you ask in terms of focus and productivity.
A good way to start this list is to think of all the things that:
- You hate doing.
- You aren’t good at.
- Don’t have a good ROI (Return on Investment).
- Distract you.
Eliminate or delegate those things.
When you ask the right questions, you live each day with purpose and direction. Start asking those questions today.
Which question is the hardest for you? What question would you add to the list?
13 thoughts on “The 6 Questions I Ask Every Day (and that You Should, Too)”
A question I like to ask is what am I excited about today? It keeps me excited for the days events since I tend to drift towards the future. The question that I haven’t focused on is how can I introduce today? I will be adding this…Thanks Matt.
Good question Zech. Yes, the introduction question will rock your world.
Matt, I love your blog!
I ask questions all day, every day, of me, of others, of God. My dad used to get so frustrated with me when I was a kid and he’d bark “DON’T ASK ANY MORE QUESTIONS!”
(Learners ask questions. Smart people are that way because they are always learning. So there!)
#4 is about more than efficiency – it also gives other people a way to be involved in our lives, makes them feel needed, and keeps us from thinking we are self-sufficient. It feels really good to help other people and I remind myself of this when I feel reluctant to ask others for help.
That is unfortunate about your dad. I have to be careful of that myself as Aracelli is 3 and that means “why” questions to everything.
Why are you wearing that, Daddy?
Because I like it.
Because I like blue.
Because it’s bright and fun.
Why is it bright and fun?
And so on…
But we roll with it and she is learning SO fast!
I’m not great at asking people for help. I’m better at giving it. This has made marketing my book a challenge. I’m learning to be “daring” and asking people for help (reviews, interview, etc).
One thing I like to do when making decisions is to ask God if a task will matter in 5 years or if it is just filling time and making ME feel better. I want to bring Him glory. Not me.
That’s a great perspective TC. Sometimes a task is just busy work and has no meaningful impact. I’ll pass on those.
Your bonus question is pretty tough for me. I hate to say “no”.
Love #5. Introduce two people to each other. That’s a great goal. You are great at that and you’re inspiring me to do better, to share more and to interact more, especially on Twitter. What am I not good at? I’m getting better at it but asking for help is not my strong suit. Great post Matt!
I think I do the math in the audio version, but if you introduce people 200 days a year (barely more than half of them) and even if it’s a lot of the same people, you’ve probably solidified 100 relationships and picked up countless more. It’s extremely powerful.
I love #2 in particular. I think it’s the single most impactful shift I’ve begun to make this year. Gratitude is a hugely underrated practice but one, when cultivated, over time, that can make a huge difference to the way you engage with work and life. We have way more say in our experiences than we think. Great post!
So right Micah. Over time, consistent gratitude will change you in huge ways.
Reminds me a lot of John Miller’s QBQ. Taking personal responsibility and stop victim mentality with the added “Thank you” part. Great list!
Big fan of John Miller. I interviewed him a while back: http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/interview-qbq-john-g-miller-002/
Thinking of direct ways to help others and be helped is an intentional way to avoid victim thinking for sure.