Improve Your Results
Using Question Power

In 1929, a senior vice president of Ford Motor Company took Henry Ford to court. He told the judge, “Mr. Ford is incompetent. He doesn’t have the expertise to run a company the size of this one. He will ruin the company if he is left in as the leader.”

The trial was long. Toward the end of the proceedings, the judge asked Mr. Ford if he had any comments to make to wrap up the defense.

Henry Ford took the stand and was sworn in. He turned to the bailiff and asked if he could have a piece of chalk from the black board that was across the room.

When he got the chalk, he proceeded to draw side-by-side, two long rows of one-inch in diameter circles on the top of the banister surrounding him in the witness box. He said these circles represented the “call” buttons built in to the top of his desk at the factory.

He then told the judge and all present, “Some of the things said about me may be true. I’m no longer the most knowledgeable person within our company. There are many things I can’t do in the process of building a car.”

“But that’s not really my job, to get on the assembly line and put the parts together. My job is to innovate. I need to keep improving what we have, and the way we manufacture.”

Mr. Ford said, “If I need to know more about hydraulics, I just push this button here. And within a few minutes, a brilliant young man who knows just about everything there is to know about hydraulics, either calls me or comes to my office. I then ask him the question I need answered, he gives me the answer, and then he goes back to his job.”

“If I need to make an improvement or wonder about something to do with steering, I push this button here. Within just a few minutes, the head of our steering department gets a hold of me. I ask my question, and this expert who knows much more about the complicated steering mechanisms we now use than I do, gives me the information I need to make my decision.”

Mr. Ford continued this process of explaining what he did, and his process of gathering information to make decisions.

In summary, he told the judge, “That man is correct, I don’t know everything - but I don’t need to. I have intelligent people working for me who can give me the information I need to make effective decisions, and run the company.”

The judge then dismissed the case of incompetency against Mr. Ford. The judge then decreed that the executive who had wrongly brought the charges against Ford, had to pay all lawyers fees and court costs.

You Don’t Have To Know Everything

To achieve great results, you don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to start asking good questions, so you can get the appropriate information in a timely manner.

If you desired to be a better athlete, you just need to ask good questions in the right places. Asking one of your buddies how to improve your tennis game, if they have never played, is an error. They may be brilliant, but if they know nothing about tennis, you’re wasting time.

Get Better Results Through
Using Questions Effectively

Every question you ask does six things. You can improve your ability to get results by being more conscious of what you are asking. As you improve this skillset, you move faster and easier through life’s puzzles you encounter.

1. All questions focus the human mind in one direction while deleting other potential options of thought.

If someone asks you, “What’s your favorite beach?” you won’t start thinking about “light bulbs” (unless of course you just love light bulbs, and there were cases of free light bulbs scattered all over your favorite beach.)

Why? Because the question of “favorite beach” sends your brain searching through your mental the beach files, not the light bulb files. Every question you ask gives your brain a target direction. Make sure the target direction is one you want, that is leading you toward the result you desire.

2. Questions presuppose positive or negative internal states or potential outcomes.

Both of these questions could have to do with a problem of depression. But, the resulting state is different. Example: “Why am I depressed?” Leads to thinking of what depresses you, which often leads to being even more depressed. “What can I do to be happier?” This leads you to think of things that pick you up, and boost your mental state. One focuses on the negative—which brings more negative. One focuses on the positive—which helps to make you feel better.

3. The type of question asked will either open the communication with others, or close it and make the interaction more brief.

This is on two different levels. First, is the question a closed question, i.e., “Do you like this?” which elicits a yes or no answer, and closes the communication. Or an open question, “What are your thoughts on how to improve schools?” which opens communication and stimulates discussion.

Second, the type of question asked will open or close the communication. If you ask someone, “How could you have been so unbelievably stupid?” you will close the communication with the majority of people. I seriously doubt they will stand there and give you a list of how come they were so unbelievably stupid.

Contrast that closed question with, “What are possible things that could be done to assure that issue doesn’t happen again?” It acknowledges there is a difficulty, and opens communication to what can be done to overcome it happening again.

4. Questions either focus on the details of the situation or open up the perspective to a bigger picture overview.

Asking, “What is one thing that made President Reagan a good communicator?” is a very different question than, “What are all of the verbal and nonverbal communication signals that President Reagan used effectively, which made him an exceptional communicator?”

Sometimes all you need is to drill down to one specific detail. Other times, the more information you can pick up, the better off you will be. If you only need the basics, don’t ask big picture questions because you will waste time and energy.

5. Asking questions focuses the mind into either the past, present or future.

Questions get linked up to a time. “What did your team do last week? What are they doing today? And, what will they be working on next month?” These are pretty obvious links to past, present and future.

If a person says, “We blew it last week.” And you said, “What happened?” you are still focused in the past.

If on the other hand you want to move forward into a present action or future focus, when they say, “We blew it last week.” you ask a better question. “What could we begin doing now, so that next week this doesn’t happen again?” You bring the topic into a solution focused discussion at present, and project into the future better possibilities.

6. Questions have the potential to open up creativity or lessen it.

The question, “What the ____ is wrong with you?” will kill communication just as effectively as, “What would be a good way to ensure this doesn’t happen again?” opens up creativity and discussion.

All Actions Start With Effective Questions

Pay attention to your questions. If you want to build ever greater achievement and success, watch the questions you ask yourself and others.

Before you can get an answer, you have to ask a question. Werner Heisenberg, the founder of Quantum Physics said, “Nature will only reveal her secrets through the process of asking questions.” He was 100% correct.

Pay attention to the focus of your questions. Apply these key concepts and you can begin rapidly building greater effectiveness and growing your success.

The Best Of Success To You,


“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.”
-- Lou Holtz

“Take the attitude of a student — never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”
-- Og Mandino (1923-1996)


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