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miWisdom today… When people go through periods of great difficulty in their lives, we naturally have a tendency to try and assist them through their problems by providing them with techniques and strategies that we believe will help them overcome their challenges. Is this really the right and just way to go about assisting a person in need?

First of all, what may appear to be the right way around a problem to us may not in fact be the most ideal solution for the other person. Yes, we may well have gone through a similar experience, or we may have heard or read about others overcoming this sort of challenge in their life. Yet, can we rightly justify the act of providing helpful advice without first truly understanding the other person and their experience from absolutely every angle imaginable? Because this is exactly what it will take to provide this person with the right and suitable answers they are after.

When we freely help others, do we even consider the repercussions of our good nature? Is what we are doing for them helping them in the long-term? Is this empowering the other person to overcome other similar challenges in their life without your ongoing support or influence? Or is your act of helping them through this problem actually making them dependent on you now and in the future? There is an old saying which identifies this principle clearly:

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

There is also another saying which states:

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you can sell him fishing equipment.” – However, let’s leave that for another time 🙂

When people are in great difficulty they only seek one single “thing” to begin with. This one “thing” is so powerful that it may well be the trigger that will empower them to take the necessary steps and actions to overcome their challenge single-handedly. So what is this one “thing” they seek? It is assurance from someone who can show that they understand their problems and challenges. They are looking to connect with a person who will be there for them as a satellite bouncing ideas back and forth.

Once this person feels comfortable that someone understands them; that they have the support of someone who is supportive of their plight – now you can move onto the next step, which is all about empowering the person from within. To do this, one must learn to lead a conversation by asking the right questions that will allow the other person to think independently and reflect upon their life and circumstances.

Giving advice is much like the act of giving a man a fish. You will feed the person with a solution for today, but what will they have left for tomorrow and the uncertain future that awaits them. However, by asking insightful questions that encourages the other person to think in unique and creative ways, is very much like teaching them to fish.

By guiding the other person to seek their own answers within, is one of the greatest gifts one is able to give to a child, a family member, stranger or friend; because it is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving whether you are in this person’s life or not.

Next time someone is in difficulty, you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following set of questions:

  • How can I provide this person with reassurance that I am there for them in their time of need?
  • How can I show them that I understand them and their situation wholeheartedly?
  • What insightful questions can I ask that will encourage them to think in a unique and creative way about their problems and predicament?
  • What sorts of questions could I ask that may well empower this person to take immediate and positive action today?
  • How else can I show them that I am supportive of their difficulties, problems or challenges without giving advice?

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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miWisdom today… The vast majority of people have a natural tendency to overestimate their time, work, energy, decisions and actions. This is known as the Jellybean principle, which is the act of being incapable of estimating correctly how many colored Jellybeans are in the jar.  

Back in high school there was always someone organizing a Jellybean counting competition of some sorts each year. They would get hold of the largest glass jar or container they could find, and would “stuff” it with as many jellybeans as was humanly possible. Then, one-by-one each student would attempt to guess how many Jellybeans were enclosed within the jar. I was intrigued as to how students would go about estimating the number of Jellybeans that were in the jar. 

  • Would they try to calculate it mathematically based on the size of each jellybean and the dimensions of the glass jar?
  • Would they just attempt to “guestimate” how many jellybeans would fit in a jar of that size?
  • Or would they go to extra lengths and attempt to replicate my jellybean competition by purchasing their own jellybeans and jar?

The methods and ways these students used were as varying as their jellybean estimates. Yet, one interesting factor came out of this competition. This one factor in many ways explains how people think and how they go about their daily lives and decisions.

What I found was that 77% of entries that I received overestimated the jellybean count within the jar, and only 23% underestimated it. Given these results; what do they teach us about human nature?

People naturally have a tendency to overestimate their daily decisions and actions. They overestimate:

  • Time – the time it will take them to complete a task or project
  • Energy – the energy they have to undertake a certain activity
  • Work – the amount of work they have to do within a specific time frame
  • Decisions – the impact that their decisions will have on others, themselves and life
  • Actions – the impact that their actions will have on others, themselves and life

Of course, not everyone overestimates the above points. Yet, based on the Jellybean Principle most people do have a habit and tendency towards making these kinds of decision and actions – and this is what leads to much hardship and disappointment in life.

People naturally tend to overestimate because they simply do not have enough information or experience within a specific field or area to make a more accurate estimate of what it would take to accomplish a certain task. They will look at a task and will only see it from the surface, from an outsider’s perspective. And it’s from this perspective that they will base their decisions. 

It’s much like looking at a box that has wrapping all over it. On the surface, everyone knows that it’s a box, and that to open a box it takes certain actions and tools. However, what many of us fail to understand is that what we see on the surface may not be quite what we will experience during the process and act of opening the box. We simply fail to ask ourselves the right questions, or fail to garner the necessary foresight in order to fully understand and comprehend the time, energy, and work it will take to accomplish each task. This lack of foresight is what leads to disappointment and potentially low levels of self-esteem.

Before you begin a new and unfamiliar task, you might like to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What aspects of this task am I confident I can accomplish successfully without any outside assistance?
  • What aspects of this task am I not familiar with?
  • How can I go about becoming familiar and confident with these aspects?
  • What if what I thought I knew wasn’t true at all? How can I verify that my knowledge and experience is adequate in accomplishing this task successfully?
  • Do I understand that what might have worked in the past may not in fact work as planned today? How can I prepare for this possibility?
  • What questions must I ask myself throughout this task to ensure that I stay on track and within the timeframe I have allocated?

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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miWisdom today… Getting angry or upset at others doesn’t normally work to one’s favour, as it creates resistance and throws the other person against you. Not only does the other person now see you as the enemy, they also completely resist what you have to say no matter how much logical sense your argument may have. This ends up being a “no win” situation for both parties. You don’t win because you haven’t been able to get your point across, and the other person doesn’t win because they have not learnt from their mistakes or their lack of understanding. Their Ego has simply impeded on making logical sense of the information that you are attempting to convey across to them.

Instead of getting angry or arguing with the other person, the solution is to simply discuss the matter with them in a very subtle and calm manner. Focus on asking the right kinds of questions that will get this person thinking logically about their situation. These questions must however be very subtle, so much so that the other person doesn’t even realise that you are probing them for these answers. Your goal is to get them thinking in a way that will stimulate questions within them so that they are able to find their own answers.

Focus also on touching the other person emotionally, on making them laugh, or maybe even making them feel a little indirect pain that will trigger their emotional thinking processes. A bit of laughter or tears can easily breakdown a person’s defenses, therefore opening them up to a greater sense of awareness and understanding about their current predicament.

People are much like a rubber-band. The more you pull on it the greater resistance you will have to deal with. And if you pull too quickly and too hard, the rubber-band will snap, and you have lost a unique opportunity to get through to them.  People are also much like a balloon that is blown up and deflated again. Once a balloon is deflated it will never take on its original shape. If you hurt them through your anger and attacking remark, they will lose trust and faith in you no matter what your intentions were or how much logical sense you made. And later when you are sincerely trying to help them, they will resist, and you will not be able to get through to them.

  • What is it that I would like to get across to this person?
  • What strategies can I use to get this information across to them in a way that will minimise resistance?
  • How should I talk, behave and present myself before them?
  • Where would be the most ideal place to discuss this matter with them?
  • What would be the ideal time to discuss this matter with them?
  • How can I get my point across in a logical manner that will get them thinking in new ways?
  • How can I get my point across in a way that will stir up contemplative emotions in the other person?
  • What questions can I ask them that will stimulate their thinking processes?
  • What personal experiences and stories can I share with them that will build a stronger emotional bond between the two of us?
  • How can I best show them that I understand their situation and predicament?
  • How can I lead them towards finding the answers that I would like them to discover for themselves?
  • After my discussion with them, should I give them space and time to contemplate what was discussed? How much time should I allow?
  • If I was them and they were me, how would I like to be approached given the circumstances?

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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miWisdom today… What looks like an opportunity on the surface to progress your life forward may in fact turn out to be a terrible mistake because of a simple yet noticeable oversight. One must therefore learn to always be extremely vigilant, to take into account all possibilities, and to develop the necessary foresight to make the right and best decision in the moment.

Life will always bring an endless array of opportunities our way each and every day (whether we notice them or not). On the surface every one of these opportunities will probably look very appetising. It is only when we look under the bonnet and ask ourselves the right kinds of questions that the demons will eventually reveal themselves. These demons are there to teach you lessons about where your life is headed. They are there to wake you up and show you that you may be on the wrong path, that you may be heading in the opposite direction, or that you may not as yet have asked the right questions that will lead you to the answers you seek.

In the end, opportunities whether filled with demons or angels are there to teach us great lessons about ourselves, and are therefore guiding posts to a better future if we take the time to learn and grow from each opportunity that comes our way.

  • What is it about this opportunity that could lead to undesirable results?
  • How can I see this opportunity in a different light?
  • Whose feedback and guidance can I draw from to help me make the best decision here?
  • Does this opportunity mean short-term loss for long-term gain? Or is it the other way around?
  • If I take on board this opportunity, what other doors of opportunity could it open for me? What doors could it also potentially close?
  • If I run with this opportunity, will it mean that I am limiting or expanding my options in the future?
  • Do the benefits of taking this opportunity on board outweigh the potential consequences?

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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miWisdom today… How something is written and what it intrinsically means can be at two opposite ends of the pole. Therefore, to sometimes make sense of the obvious one must dig a little deeper and question the content of the material from different angles and perspectives.

  • What is the surface meaning of this writing?
  • What was the person trying to get across to their readers?
  • What motivated them to write about this in such a manner and style?
  • What hidden meaning (if any) can I unearth from this material that isn’t present on the surface?

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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miWisdom today… One must watch one’s words and requests that one makes of others. People simply do not like being told what to do. The best approach is rather to ask questions of the other person, and gently lead them to the answers that you would like them to find for themselves. Of course these answers will be exactly what you would have told them anyways. In this way you gain the other person’s respect.

  • What would I like this person to do?
  • How can I pose them a set of questions that will lead them to the answer I want them to find?
  • How can I make this person feel as though this is exactly what they want to do?
  • How can I make this person feel as though this is actually their idea? 🙂

If you have a similar learning experience or would like to add to the list of questions, you may do so by commenting below.

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