Sure I need to be able to build rapport and actively listen to clients, but if I can’t ask the right question at the right time, then I’m unlikely to help effect lasting change.
It’s over a year since I wrote my post 7 Killer Life Coaching Questions and I thought that as this is such an important aspect of self development it might be time to compile a more authoritative list than can help you Life Coach yourself.
The questions are in no specific order and I would love to hear your take in the comments section on your favorites and whether you have any personal ones that I may have missed out.
1. What’s really important to me?
This is a values based question that, if you ask it enough times, will uncover the essence of who you are as a person. Whatever the answer is that comes back, ask the follow up question of, “What does that give me?”
Then ask it again and again and again until you can’t go any further and end up with one word. Then say hello and give a big hug to a core value of yours.
2. What else can this mean?
Possibly the best question of the lot and one I speak about on a (very) regular basis. It creates curiosity and an opportunity to reframe any negative situation.
What’s not to love about that?
3. Who can help me?
Most people when they are setting out on a huge goal become obsessed with what they need to do to succeed.
Fortunately though, success leaves a trail, and you can follow that trail.
Whatever it is you want to achieve, somebody has either done the exact same thing or something similar in the past.
Talk to those people, read about them, even hire them if you can. Drop the belief that you need to do everything yourself and get help, maybe even hire a Life Coach!
4. Who can I help?
This question gets you out of your own head and allows you to focus on helping others. “But I don’t really want to help others” you may be thinking. Well that’s cool, but you’re actually hard wired to do so and altruism stimulates the same part of the brain as taking cocaine.
And I think we can all agree that helping other people is way cooler and much cheaper than developing a coke habit.
5. How often is my gut instinct wrong?
If you are like most people I know, you will occasionally get a strong gut instinct about something. You will also frequently override that gut instinct and then live to regret it because it doesn’t seem to make sense at a conscious level.
There’s a reason I end every client consultation by saying to the prospective client;
“Go with your gut instinct. If you feel I am the right Life Coach for you, then hire me. If you have some niggling doubts, then don’t, because you’re gut will probably be right”
Next time you have a strong gut instinct ask yourself how often it’s wrong. If that’s rarely, then trust it!
6. What would my life be like if I were to go easier on myself?
It seems to me the vast majority of people beat themselves up and I meet plenty that are almost proud of the fact.
The really bizarre thing about this behavior is that it rarely changes a thing. If years or decades of being hard on yourself hasn’t worked, wouldn’t now be a great time to adopt a slightly different approach?
7. If I didn’t need money what would I do with my life?
Money is often the biggest obstacle to people living the life of their dreams. Or at least that’s what they think, but they are often very wrong.
Think what you really want to do, see and achieve in your life, and then work out how much money you require to do that.
Do not do what most people do, which is try and acquire as much money as you can and then decide what you want to do with it.
That’s the kind of behavior that traps you in a job you hate, but pays great money. Trust me, I’ve been there.
8. Who can I forgive?
If you want to feel crap about yourself and your life, hold as many grudges as you possibly can. None of them will hurt the person you think wronged you, but they will hurt you and that’s almost the same thing, right?
I don’t care how much somebody has hurt you, forgive them.
Even write to them telling them you forgive them so you can then move on. You don’t even need to mail the letter and the person doesn’t even need to still be alive. Just the act of forgiveness can be a huge weight off your shoulders.
9. What am I truly grateful for?
Another obvious one, but get this. It’s almost impossible to feel down and depressed and grateful at the same time. A sense of gratitude is one of the most powerful positive emotions known to mankind.
I know for a fact that you have a shit load of stuff to be grateful for. At the very least I know you have eyesight as you are reading this post. You also have access to a computer and/or smart phone as well as electricity and a some form of Internet connection.
If you can’t think of 100 things you’re grateful for you’re either not trying hard enough or you’re dead.
10. What would Richard Branson do?
Who is your hero or heroine? Next time you get in a tricky situation, think how they would deal with it. I was talking to my co-author John Strelecky the other day as we were preparing to place the order for the second print run of How To Be Rich and Happy.
I was nervous of the amount of books we were ordering as it was 50% higher than the first print run. John sensed this and he also knows how much I admire Richard Branson. So he picked a Branson phrase and said ‘Screw it, let’s do it” and with that, I agreed.
Note: If Charlie Sheen is your hero, you may want to skip past this question.
11. What’s my end game?
Next time you are about to complain or whine about something or kick off an argument with a friend or family member ask yourself the above question.
What do you want to achieve and is the route you’re about to head down get likely to get you there? 90% of disagreements could be eradicated if everybody on the planet (including me) adopted this question a tad more often!
12. If I did know, what would the answer be?
A stupid question on the face of it, but it’s brilliance is in its simplicity. Quite often when I ask a client how they intend to achieve something they’ll respond that they don’t know. I’ll almost always throw this question back at them.
The very least that happens is they laugh at it and I break their state (which frequently helps with problem solving), but more often than not they will come back with a solution.
The question gives your unconscious permission to dream and be creative because the reality is, you do know.
13. On a scale of 0 to 10 how committed am I to achieving ‘X’?
If I ever ask a client this question and get an answer of 7 or less I know whatever it is, almost certainly isn’t going to get done and I have more work to do.
You are either committed to something or your not and 70% commitment is almost worse than no commitment at all. Think about the really successful people you admire, how many of them are half, or even three quarter-assed when it comes to commitment?
Correct, none of them.
14. What can I learn from this?
I’ve done it to death I know, but it’s a hugely powerful question.
If you can learn from a negative situation you reduce the likelihood that it will ever happen again. Asking this question will shift your mind away from “I’m a failure, I screwed up again” to “Wow, I learned some really cool stuff”
15. What can I do to break this pattern of behavior?
Your brain loves patterns. It will sometimes even go out of its way to create patterns where none really exist. If you have ever stared at the clouds for any length of time and started to see shapes and people that aren’t really there you’ll know what I mean.
Some people think they can’t change in the future because they haven’t changed in the past.
Yes, your brain prefers to replicate patterns of behavior because it’s easier and requires less energy.
However, it will also allow you to break those patterns if you consciously step in and disrupt them. And the operative word there is ‘consciously’ because without conscious awareness change happens organically and largely out of your control.
16. What can I do today that will scare me?
Self development is about expanding your comfort zone and to do so means you have to experience some discomfort and fear. That’s cool though, because it is only fear and as such just it’s an emotion and we all know emotions aren’t real, right?
17. What’s the back story?
You’re a human being and as such you act like an assclown from time to time, we all do. Fortunately you know the reason or reasons when you do so, and they’re usually legitimate.
Maybe you didn’t sleep well, you’re worried about money, a close family member is seriously ill, one of your kids just got into trouble at school or the mother-in-law is coming to stay for a few days.
Any one of the above can knock you off your ‘A’ game and cause you to be a bit tetchy, and the same goes for anybody else. Before you presume somebody wants to kill you because they cut you up on the Interstate ask yourself what their back story may be.
18. What will that goal give me?
People will often set goals because they think they should or because they seem cool on first glance. Our initial goal to sell 1,000,000 copies of How To Be Rich and Happy was a case in point, and it sucked.
When we started to drill down we realized it didn’t give us a fat lot, except money. The new goal of giving the books to good causes delivers on multiple fronts and is far more inspiring to both myself and John.
19. What would my perfect day look like?
If you’re not sure what you want to do with your life ask yourself the above question. Give your mind permission to wander and the freedom to dream big. How much of your perfect day are you working toward? How much could you be working toward? How much will you work toward?
20. Would I Rather Be Right Or Be Loved?
I had so many brilliant questions and thanks to all of you that offered them up. I went for the one that Pam first mentioned because it’s a beauty, and she is 100% right it can stop a lot of arguments before they get going.