Posted in leadership, self-improvement

12 Questions

To summarize the month on Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, here is a reminder of the twelve questions you should keep close to your desk or workstation:

  1. What do I want?
  2. What assumption am I making?
  3. What am I responsible for?
  4. How can I think about this?
  5. What is the other person thinking? Feeling? Wanting?
  6. What am I missing or avoiding?
  7. What can I learn from this person? This situation? This mistake? This failure? This success?
  8. What questions should I ask myself? Others?
  9. How can I turn this situation into a win-win one?
  10. What possible?
  11. What are my choices?
  12. What action steps make the most sense?

Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement


Einstein wrote, if I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes asking questions and 5 minutes solving the problem. This is called Q-storming. Instead of braining-storming answers, next time try brain-storming questions. Here’s how:

1. Describe the problem
2. Describe the goal for change
3. Ask first person questions – How do I…? How do we…?

It’s that simple. Great results start with great questions. Here are some starter points when beginning the group discussion:
1. How would I find out what I don’t know if I don’t ask?
2. How can you get the best answers without first asking the best questions?
3. Every question missed is a potential crisis waiting to happen.

While helping your group Q-storm, consider some of these:
1. How do we get past what is blocking us?
2. How can we meet our target?
3. What do we want to change?
4. What don’t we want to change?
5. What can I do to be more creative?
6. What will help us make the best contribution?
7. What do others have to offer?
8. What assumptions am I making about
a. Myself?
b. Others?
c. What is not true now?
d. Available resources?
e. What’s impossible?
f. What’s possible?

Remember leadership is as much about who you are as what you do. This is listed in a quote by Schein that states, “The only real importance that leaders do is create and manage culture.” To work toward this, remember a question not asked is a door not opened, so Question Everything!

Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Switching Lanes from Judger Leader to Learner Leader

“To choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances is to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl

Thoughts set intention. Learner questions program us with a positive intention for the right attitude and moves toward an outstanding performance. Whenever feeling yourself going into judger leader, switch lanes by asking yourself:

  1. What will serve me best right now?
  2. Am I being honest with myself?
  3. What do I really need?
  4. What can I do to feel better that doesn’t include eating?
  5. Instead of saying who’s to blame, ask what am I responsible for?

Blame keeps us in the past. Responsibility paves the path for a better future. Switching is what makes it possible to change. Switching makes it easier when you follow your A, B, C, and Ds.

  • Aware – Am I a judger? Is this working?
  • Breathe! – Do I need to step back, pause, and gain perspective?
  • Curiosity – What’s really going on? – With me? With others? With the situation?
  • Decide – What is my decision? What action do I choose?

Remember Learner begets learner and judger begets judger. We don’t have much control over what happens, but we can choose how we relate to what happens. So, accept the judger and practice the learner. Ask, what do I appreciate about my team? What are the strengths of each one? How can I collaborate with them more productively? How can we stay on the learner path together?

When frustrated with a situation or a person, remember the three primary questions:

  1. What assumptions am I making?
  2. How else can I think about this?
  3. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?


Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Are You a Judger or a Learner?

The secret of being really effective and satisfied with our lives begins when we decide to be a judger or a learner. This is part of question thinking as discussed in a previous blog: post= 7491&action=edit Once you understand your mindset, you can choose which questions you want to ask. “Change your thinking, change your results.” Remember, “No one can help anyone else from a judger place.” So, instead of asking

  • What’s wrong with me (judger), ask
    • What do I value about myself (learner)?
  • What’s wrong with him (judger), ask
    • What do I appreciate about him (learner)?
  • Whose fault is it (judger), ask
    • Am I being responsible (learner)?
  • How can I prove I’m right (judger), ask
    • What’s useful? What can I learn (learner)?
  • Why is she so clueless and frustrating (judger), ask
    • What is she thinking? Feeling? Wanting? (learner)
  • We’ve done that already (judger), ask
    • What are the best steps forward?
  • Why bother? (judger), ask
    • What’s possible (learner)?

More learner questions:

  • What happened?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s useful about this?
  • What can I learn?
  • What are my choices?
  • What’s best to do now?
  • What’s possible?


Judger mindset (being judgmental) is the enemy of good judgment.

Accept the judger mindset when it comes up so you can release it, but practice the learner mindset moment by moment by moment.

Change begins with the person who wants the change.


 Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in self-improvement

7 Bits and Pieces to Finish the Month

  1. Ever question if your necktie is too short or too long? If you question it, the answer is yes. The tie should be at the top of your belt if wearing a suit pant.


  1. If you want to lower your blood pressure, listen to classical music. Studies show those who listen to classical music dropped their blood pressure significantly.


  1. An Americano is an espresso with hot water added. It contains more copper than brewed coffee, which helps to burn fat, and it is higher in disease-fighting antioxidants.


  1. Eating up to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day has the same impact on the happiness scale as going from unemployed to employed.


  1. If you clean your desk, you improve your brain health. Those who work in dirty and noisy places are more likely to have long-term cognitive decline than those who work in clean and quiet ones.


  1. The typical American weighs around 2000 pounds in clothing and household goods including furniture. In a recent study, people who reduced their house weight also reduced their body weight by 10 pounds.


  1. If you have a hard time falling asleep, but once you do, you sleep fine, you may need a little more fiber, protein, and calcium. (Sheila’s hint: A nutritionist once told me when I was going through this after a medical change to my body to take a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed. It always worked.)


Cite: July AARP Magazine

Posted in self-improvement


Time is life. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it. – Alan Lakein

There is no such thing as lack of time. We all have plenty of time to do everything we really want to do. If you believe you are too busy to get things done, keep in mind there are people who are busier than you, who manage to get more done that you do. They don’t have more time that you do. They just use their time to their best advantage. When all is said and done there is nothing more important in your life than time.

Time use is a highly personal, individual matter of choice, you must choose what works for you. Your time is limited but your imagination is not. Most people in a few moments of daydreaming can come up with enough things to do to keep them busy for weeks. There are also the things that you are required to do. Tomorrow there will be things to do. The choices are often complex and difficult.

Some demands by others should be accepted graciously. When something is important to someone you care about, even if it is not important to you, remind yourself that you are living interdependently in the world, which means sharing your time. Situations in which you feel other people are making your decisions are not uncommon. A parent, child, spouse, or friend, may seem to have as much say about how you spend your time as you do – and sometimes more. The fact, however, is otherwise. You make the decision to allow others to tell you how to spend your time. Others can only recommend things for you to do. The decision is yours.

Your time use is the result of hundreds of thousands of big and little choices made each year, month, day, minute. Some ways you make decisions are habits, demands of others, escapism, spur of the moment, default, and conscious decisions. There is no right or wrong ways to make your decisions. The answer is are you satisfied with the payoff of your decisions? If not, then changes should be considered. You can drift, dream or drown – the choice is yours.

Cite: How To Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein