I was catching up with my friend Ian yesterday and our conversation turned philosophical (as it usually does when we are sharing a few craft beers). At one point he asked, “Do you think that American society is on the path to solving its problems, or are we not even asking the right questions?”
This morning I’m thinking about how that same distinction can apply to us as individuals. We worry about coming up with the right answers, but we actually need to start by examining the questions we ask about our lives.
The quality of our answers, in fact the possible answers we can come up with, are dependent on the questions. And I’m not talking about the big, existential questions, either. I’m talking about the day-to day things we ask ourselves about our relationships, our careers, and how to spend our time.
Our Questions Determine Our Answers
For example, over the past few weeks I have slowly rolled out my new website. The launch hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped. And that’s not because it’s hard to make WordPress do what I want (although I did go through three different themes). The hard part was changing the focus of my online presence from my company, RockStar Consulting, to me, David J.P. Fisher – aka D. Fish.
Some of the questions I was asking myself weren’t very helpful. It’s not that I’m suffering from a lack of confidence. But I’ve realized that with the release of Networking in the 21st Century I have to put myself out there a lot more than I have done in the past. And that can be scary. It felt safer to ask, “Why would someone want to read an article that’s on iamdfish.com – what credibility do I have?”
Better Questions = Better Answers
So I’ve decided to ask better questions:
- How do I bring more of my own voice into my writing while still sharing information that is helpful? My writing up to this point has always had a very practical and professional focus. I don’t want to change that focus, but how can I personalize it more?
- Am I being completely clear about what my brand is and how I help people? How can I be more clear?
- I work with coaching clients all of the time on developing the knowledge of what you should and shouldn’t share online – what’s that line going to be for me? Should I be open about the challenges I’m facing and ask for help, or does it make sense to keep things close to the vest sometimes? Should I have more pictures of my cats?
- What’s the best way to respond if I put myself out there and no one notices? Can I decide my response now so know what to do if it happens? )An even more fun question is how will I respond when a lot of people notice my work?)
- What’s the best way that I can capture people’s attention in an information-soaked world while still being authentic (and not resorting to over-the-top blog headlines all of the time)?
I’m not sure what all the answers are to these questions. But I do think that they are good questions to ask. And that the process of answering them is a valuable one to move me in the right direction.
I’ll keep you in the know about what I’m working on, but right now: What questions are you asking yourself in your professional life? And are they the most helpful ones?