Like a Stubborn Toddler Who Always Asks "Why?"

During undergraduate school I was kicked out of a class. Like, for the remainder of the semester.  The prof said that I asked too many questions and she felt that I challenged her too much.  I did and I did.  Full disclosure: I was also cocky and obnoxious.  Karma came a-knockin’ when I became an adjunct professor and “that” student sat right in front and challenged me every week.  But I digress…

Of course college is not the only time I’ve been told that I “ask too many questions”.  I believe it makes me a curious world-seeker, while others uh, not-so-much. And while I can still be obnoxious, I have come to understand the true reason behind my incessant question-asking. 

Lately I have been participating in career coaching (you know, ‘cuz I’m so curious about the world, life-long learning and all that crap).  Two ideas have come together to give me a serendipitously ah-ha moment.  BOTH coaches encourage participants to ask a question (YAY!).  The questions are very simple: Who? And Why? The mother ship has called me home.  Bazinga

Emily Bennington, career coach guru and who I want to be when I grow up (I think we’re the same age), invites us to ask who we want to be rather than what we want to be. (and who cannot be “president”; the achievement is the result).  This has been profoundly simple to me.  Diving in and asking myself questions is, well, difficult.  Self-examination is difficult for a lot of people but oh-so-worth the results. 

Simon Sinek asks a different question but it’s in the same ball park. Simon encourages companies to ask themselves why they do what they do.  This is radically different thinking for most businesses. Usually businesses ask what, then how, THEN why.  By asking why first and what last we begin to understand that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. (and why cannot be “to make a profit”; profits are a result).  Consumers of Apple products understand this explicitly.

So this is where my obnoxious question-asking is finally a useable, purposeful skill.  Turn inward to ask the questions who (do you want to be?) and why (you do what you do).  By developing the answers you will change the way you see yourself and your clients will fully understand your value….and theirs.  

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