One of the core competencies of professional coaching is asking our clients powerful questions. These questions are expansive and open-ended, inviting introspection and (ideally) action.
While questions in isolation don’t have the same impact as well-timed inquiries within the context of a live conversation, we have all had the experience of a question captivating us – as if it was somehow for us.
Sometimes we overhear a conversation or see something on television or in the newspaper that elicits an inner ping. Often unwelcome, we might try to ignore it. Occasionally with great success…but often the tug remains.
If you believe, as Socrates said, that the unexamined life is not worth living, try putting pen to paper with a few of the following questions. Ongoing personal inventory is neither frivolous nor narcissistic. It’s responsible living.
And don’t just take my word for it. The great poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “There is only one journey. Going inside yourself.”
While merely thinking about these questions can be somewhat useful, rolling something around in our own mind is far less effective than writing about it or discussing it with another person. Grab your journal – or your partner, friend or colleague – and try plumbing the depths together.
- What is your unique ability and are you living it on a regular basis?
- What are you not capitalizing on right now?
- Where have you been over-reasonable or under-daring?
- What courageous conversation are you avoiding?
- Where is your integrity soft?
- Is the difference you are making really making a difference to you?
- What three changes would you make in your life if you knew you had only six months to live?
- When thinking about an issue you are grappling with, how urgent or serious is it on a scale of 1-10?
- Could you be mistaken about the story you are telling yourself?
- What are you currently tolerating and what is the cost?
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” said Zora Neale Hurston. In which season do you find yourself?