I consider myself very lucky to have been on the receiving end of some fantastic questions. Questions that help you clarify your thoughts, there in the moment. And then continue adding value as you reflect back on them.
This series of blogs is intended to curate and showcase some of those questions, which I hope we can add-to together, to compile some shared experiences and stories.
One of my all-time favourite Big Questions came from a colleague of mine - Kerry. Kerry's got a bit of a sixth sense for when things aren't quite right, and a nose for a great challenging question.
The day that she asked me her Big Question came at the end of a long, full month, when I'd been a little guilty of over-committing. Trips abroad, intense training delivery sessions, and long conference calls all featured heavily. This particular week I had scheduled back-to-back workshop delivery, followed by a trip to London, presenting at an evening seminar, staying overnight at an airport hotel, catching a few hours of sleep, before hopping on the first morning flight to Ireland to facilitate a leadership team strategy session, and then flying back home that evening.
Kerry had a scan through my schedule for that week, looked-up, and asked:
"Who gets the best version of you this week?"
I knew the answer straight away, even though I daren't say it out loud. As most great questions do, it caught me off-guard. Plus, it tapped into one of my core values - consistency. The truth was that I wasn't going to be firing on all cylinders by Friday, maybe not even by 70%, and the thought of that shocked me. Despite wanting to, I knew that my choices leading up to this week meant that my professionalism, integrity and consistency were all in danger of suffering. And I was determined never to put myself in this situation again.
One of the great things about this question, on reflection, is that there were so many other possible questions that Kerry might have asked me:
Do you think you should have said yes to all of these?
Do you think you have a tendency to over-commit?
Why don't you say no more often?
None of them would have had the impact that the Big Question did, because they're all so loaded with intention and judgement. Her winning Big Question allowed me to place my own values and interpretation upon it, without leading my down any emotionally-loaded paths.
Aside from being a question that's helped me, I've been able to pass it on- to time-strapped coachees, colleagues in similar positions, and to friends when they've found themselves in similar situations. Particularly those who operate as part of the gig economy, who are often tempted to ignore such a Big Question in pursuit of their next contract, booking or request.
It's a great leveller, which makes sure you can use your energy in the best way, and (cue wink to the camera), make sure you're the best version of you, when you need to be.
I'd love to create a collection of Big Questions. If you have any favourites that you'd like to share - please comment below. Even better - if you'd like to guest on the blog with the story of your own Big Question, please get in touch.