Are You Asking the Right Questions?

At the end of her 6-month coaching programme, one of my clients explained to me how before our sessions she had been asking herself the wrong questions. She used to ask “What if” questions – like what if I fail?  What if things don’t pan out the way I intend?  What if I say or do the wrong things? What if I am crazy? What if? What if? What if? Asking herself these questions had kept her stuck in a negative spiral of fear, self-doubt, uncertainty and procrastination most of her life.  

One day I asked her the question – What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? I hadn’t realized just what a powerful and transformative this question was, until she shared with me how it had not only changed her life, but totally transformed her sense of self. 

This question led her to take ownership of her position at work and claim her space.  She started standing up for her beliefs when things were happening that she didn’t agree with and she refused to package herself in a particular way to be acceptable, ultimately cutting off parts of herself because they might make other people uncomfortable. 

She started trusting her own heart and taking herself more seriously and also being able to make light of difficult situations when this was necessary.  This led to other people taking her more seriously and ultimately, she took on more responsibility in defining and shaping her role in the company and won a well-deserved raise – which she had motivated for, asked for and received.

At the same time this question gave her the courage to follow her passion and unleash her creativity by opening her own business, which was something she had been wanting to do for the longest time, but had been too scared to even attempt.  The business gave her a purpose-aligned outlet for all her pent-up, unexpressed energy that had kept her feeling stagnant, frustrated and discontent. 

What makes this such a great question is that it challenges root beliefs and assumptions about failure, that often trip people up, keeping them stuck in limbo and inertia. People often associate failure with a type of death, but in reality, it is inaction rather than failure that ultimately leads to ideas, dreams and creations being stillborn.  Being unwilling to fail means you avoid taking risks.  The quickest pathway to failure is to not making any effort at all. Until you overcome your fear of failure, your impossible dreams are destined to remain exactly that. Impossible!

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