How-To Get Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions…

by Brad Isaac on July 16, 2007

What if you had 30 seconds to sit down with a master in your chosen field and ask them one question that would open all the doors for you? What would you ask? Do you know?

But, everyone knows how to ask questions right?? …Wrong!

True, everyone can ask a question. But what I am talking about is asking questions that won’t waste your time. You want to ask questions that hit at the heart of your problem so you can implement a solution that works.

This post address how to get powerful answers by first asking powerful questions. And then what to do when you get the life changing answers you seek…

You see, most people don’t find the time to hone their question asking skills. Instead of asking a specific question like “how can I increase my salary by 25% at my company over the next 12 months…” people ask “how can I make more money?” Heck, an unrefined question like that has a million answers — therefore it has no usable answer.

As an example, let’s see if we can come up with an answer to a vague question like how can we make more money? You could…get a paper route, mow lawns, bartend, wait tables, sell frog gigging supplies, deal drugs… and so on. All of these will earn more money but probably do not focus in on the right answer. You cannot get the right answer if you’re asking the wrong question.

Learn how to ask

How to learn asking is an easy task. The way to start is to simply ask. It may sound like a no-brainer, but by asking you get practice. When you ask you get answers. But it doesn’t stop there..

At first, questions are vague. To get superior answers, refining the question is key. Make your question as specific as possible by applying the following questions to your question:

  • How much?
  • When to have it completed?
  • What emotion do I want to feel?
  • Who can help?
  • Where will this take place?

Example: If you were to start with “How can I make more money” you would go through the steps above one by one.

  • How much money? Answer: An extra $20,000
  • When do you want it completed? Over the next 12 months
  • What emotion do I want to feel during the process? Excited
  • Who can help? Not sure, maybe my boss..
  • Where will this take place? In my side business

So by crafting, you get a very specific question: “How can I earn an extra $20,000 from my side business over the next 12 months and be excited about the process?”

So get to asking. As you ask you’ll refine your question.

Like I’ve hinted at above, some of my questions start out vague but get more specific as I ask more. As my questions become defined and more specific, the quality of the answers improve.

Who to ask?

As long as we are asking questions the natural tendency is to ask someone else. We think, “Find an expert and ask him.” This really is not effective if you do not have experience asking good questions. Instead you should start out asking yourself. Like in the story and Acres of Diamonds, dig in your own backyard before you go running to an expert.

If you need help, read my Creative Mind Hacks series. Pick one or two of those methods and get to asking. Once you’ve exhausted all of your answers — if you still need more help — then it’s time to ask an expert.

expert One of the advantages of asking yourself first is you can apply the technique above to hone the question. This prevents you from wasting the time of an expert. The quality of answers you get between a question like “what should I do with my life?” and “do you know of any opportunities for ASP.NET programmers with Visual Studio.Net 2005 experience?” is astounding. So make sure the question is dead-on specific.

Remember: you may only have 30 seconds to ask a busy expert a question. Your question needs to be focused or the answer you get won?t do much good.

The natural flow from a question is an answer. Specific answers lead to specific results.

Forget and you’re dead

Okay, not really dead, but forgetting a crucial answer to a life-changing question will kill the potential for success.

Example: If you are an expert in your field you’ll get questions from some people who will ask the same question a 2, 3, 4… five times! Their capture device either stinks or is non-existent. This wastes your time and theirs as well.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could remember all the answers we get? Yeah, it would be great, but in the meantime, there’s an alternative…capturing the answers in a journal or archive.

Simply put if you ask you need to write it down so the idea can be retrieved. Like Jim Rohn says “don’t trust your memory.” How true. I used to be a hit at parties for my amazing memory, but now there is so much going on, I simply can’t remember it all. My Moleskine Journal has become all the more important for recording ideas, thoughts and answers. So here’s the deal — if you ask and get an answer by all means, capture that answer!

The most important step

You have asked, you have received answers. After capturing all these wonderful ideas now what do you do? If you answered “go watch TV” then it’s time to close the browser and step away from the computer.

After you ask, receive and record — then it’s time for (you guessed it) action. Get to work putting these ideas into place immediately. Don’t wait a week. Don’t wait a day. Don’t wait an hour. You need to start putting into action as soon as you get your answers.

Why should you do this now?

disrespect If you asked an expert, then the expert will want to see you put your put their advice to work. If you asked yourself, then your subconscious mind wants to see you to action the answer it gave to you. Never discount a great idea and never disrespect a great idea by procrastinating. If you do, you might not be lucky enough to get a second shot.

We probably all know of someone, maybe an associate, maybe a friend who constantly complains about getting involved with a cheating partner. “Should I leave the guy who didn’t come home last night and twice last week?” they plead. You, as an expert in what is tolerable in a relationship say “of course you should dump the bastard.” But if they don’t, you learn they don’t take your advice very well. They are resistant to change.

How do you feel having stuck your neck out trying to help this person with advice, a place to stay, and emotional support when they do not take it? After all they asked for your help. Since they won’t change, it is human nature for you to stop offering answers.

So if you interrupt an expert to ask, make sure you capture the answer and then act on it.

Bringing it all together

The only way to get better answers in life is to ask better questions. The way to better questions is #1 asking and #2 refining. As your questions become focused and specific, the value of the answers increases too. Just make sure you record the answers you do get. Then take the all-important step of acting so you see results.

Set powerful goals online with our new online goal management tool


July 20, 2007 at 2:27 am

True. Specific question will also give us specific answers. We don’t have to be general about question if we want to save time. People will 0nswer our questions faster if they completely understand the question.

July 23, 2007 at 1:53 am

Great article. Asking questions is really important. How are we suppose to know the answer if we don’t ask the questions. Things we need don’t just appear in front of us. We have to make a move before we get the answer.

July 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Well written and a good way to approach finding answers. Reading it makes it seem like it’s common sense, and I’m a bit surprised that it never really hit me.
Lately I’ve been asking a lot of important questions to try and get parts of my life in order, and have been getting answers that were just slightly less than meaningless.. now I realize that the questions being asked were horribly unfocused.

{ 1 trackback }

  • sparxMind » Stop wasting everyone’s time

Previous post:

Next post: