Go To Questions For Life: Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere

by | Apr 2, 2020 | Thought Piece Series

This is part of my Thought Piece Series where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward.

I have been spending some time looking at all this amazing content out there. Actually, I regularly do this. I’m interested in what people are writing and talking about (unless I’m done with peopling and am hermit-ing to recover).

And right now there is an awful lot of amazingly useful advice about

  • how to cope with corona, social distancing, working from home, homeschooling…
  • how to move everything you do online.

And while there is always a range in quality, there is always good content out there.
Which has left me pondering on what thought piece can I write that would be of service right now?

Which takes me to my personal default: my go-to questions for life.

Go to questions for life.

What am I doing? and What am I doing this for?

What am I about?

What am I doing? and What am I doing this for?

I tell you, in these last two weeks, where I’ve experienced a surreal #groundhogday life, I’ve asked myself this question more often. There’s nothing as effective at having you question your actions than trying to do a job you’re not trained for (teacher), to mini (critical) versions of ourselves (children).
“what am I doing?” has been muttered in many different ways.


This two-part question is rooted in both supply chain and coaching. It’s been an invaluable go-to question for me throughout good times and bad times, both at work and at home. It’s a sense check and helps create success in whatever I’m doing.

Here’s the foundation.

To improve performance and effectiveness, and therefore success, you need to eliminate waste. Wasted time, wasted effort, etc. Not that you can’t fail. But if you’re experimenting with new things or using trusted practices, you need to check if they are giving you the result that you want. If you continue to do it, but it’s not working, then it is a waste of time and effort.

This two-part question helps you get clarity. It interrupts the automation that our brains love: automatic subroutines (habits) that keep us busy, even if they are not helpful. It interrupts them and allows us to #assess, a key skill of leadership.

side note: our brains use a lot of energy to think. To reduce this, we create automatic routines so that we don’t have to think as much. Really useful function. – nobody wants to think about how to make a cup of tea every time, but we sure want to consciously think about what direction we should be heading

But how do you know if you are spending your time on something effective and worthwhile?

What am I about?

This can also be What is this team about? or What is this company about?

Simon Sinek refers to this as #StartWithWhy. Rick Tamlyn refers to this as #PlayYourBiggerGame. Both are good books to read if you are looking for inspiration.

When you know what you are about, then you can assess if what you are doing is effective and worthwhile. Furthermore, it helps you to figure out what is needed next because of its sister questions

  • If this isn’t working, what might?
  • This is working, great! What will help us make the next leap?

Here’s my example.

What am I about?

Simply put: Bringing ease to change.

I do this through my coaching, my learning and development programs, in how I run my household, in how I personally adapt to the constantly changing world – both inside my house and outside my front door.

It’s the purpose behind almost everything I do. It’s how I deliver on my belief that it doesn’t need to be so hard.
This is not the same as saying everything is easy. Hell no. Many things are incredibly difficult. But if there is a way to grease the wheels, to ease the way, then I want to find it.

So what are you doing? What are you about?

And what are your Go-To Questions for Life?
Share your questions in the comments, or come have a chat with me on zoom.
This is not a coaching call or a sales call. It’s a “people hanging out” call.

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