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It’s ironic that I have been sitting outside (yes, Portland finally hired the sun to make a late-spring appearance) writing about asking good questions and up skips “Charlotte” with her baby doll. When I asked if it was an infant, she said, “No, it’s a doll.”
I like your logic, Charlotte.
Charlotte is four, and during the time her mother was changing her little brother’s “poopie,” I learned a number of things about Charlotte.
But what I loved about Charlotte in our two-minute encounter of her skipping around me while I typed on my computer was that she asked me some pretty solid questions.
She’s four years old and she knows more about me than some guys I’ve gone on dates with or women I’ve chatted with at parties…
She asked me…
I might have been biased because she was rockin’ a gold necklace and, like Charlotte, I only sport the gold. But I think I loved Charlotte because she was so inquisitive. She had information to share, but it always came on the heels of her asking me something or answering one of my questions.
I think we can learn a lot from four-year-old Charlotte and her meeting-new-people strategy by simply saying, “So, what are you doing?”
While I’ve posted before on the Art of Asking Good Questions, generally it’s been focused on simple introductions like my little Charlotte just did so perfectly. Today I want to share with you a list of questions I heard from John Maxwell, leadership guru, when I was at Catalyst recently.
When we ask people questions and stay engaged in their answers, it should lead us to critical thinking.
And if we critically think about the information that is being presented to us and weigh it logically and biblically, I think we open ourselves up to growing in wisdom. This is one of the ways you can “seek wisdom.” It doesn’t mean we follow a person’s answers blindly or try to make his or her story our story; it means we ask questions so we can seek out the nuggets of truth that will increase our wisdom and broaden our perspectives.
Here is the list of questions Maxwell suggested to a group of leaders engaging other leaders—but it can morph into questions you could ask a friend, a parent, or someone you want to get to know better. Pay particular attention to #1 and #7.
1.) What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
2.) What are you learning now?
3.) How has failure shaped your life?
4.) Who do you know that I should know?
5.) What have you read that I should read?
6.) What have you done that I should do?
7.) How can I add value to you?
In light of the recent “May’s Mundane Monday” project, #7 seems to be the one that can really turn the mundane upside down. #7 may not be something to ask on a first date, but it’s great to ask someone who may be mentoring you or who you “take” from. It forces us to get outside of the “me” mentality to say, “Hey, I appreciate your taking the time to pour your insight and influence into my life…
…now how can I serve you?”
Now, if you see yourself as a person who people are always coming to for insight, this last question can cut to the chase if you know they want your help but they aren’t being clear. Simply say, “Great thoughts! Now how can I help you, or how can I add value to what you want to do?” This encourages the question-asker to be clear with what he or she needs.
It’s beneficial for everyone.
Maxwell asks himself every morning, “Who can I add value to today?” I’ve been amazed at how often the simple prayer of making ourselves available to serve or bless someone really opens the door for us to do so.
Maxwell takes his morning petitions to an evening recap of the day. He asks himself, “Who did I add value to today and how did I do it?” My guess is, he writes the answer down so he can become more effective in the future.
My challenge to you: Ask someone these questions soon. Someone you view as older and wiser. But first, ask yourself and write down your answers. You never know when a younger person may ask you for your wisdom or a date wants to have a conversation of more depth than rehashing the movie you just saw.
I pray you will bless others and be blessed by wisdom-givers like Maxwell or smile-givers like little Charlotte.
From my heart,
Are you too scared to ask how you can add value to someone’s life? Why?
If people pour into you, how do you pour into others? And if you only pour into others and aren’t being poured into, why is that?
And, because I’m curious to know, what have you read that I should read?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.