What is Your Question Behind the Question? Who are You Choosing to Become?
There is an old adage that has stuck with me for 40+ years. “We are the sum total of our choices.” Said another way, “We are who we choose to become.” At various times in my life that ‘truth’ has been uncomfortable.
My observation is that many of us have forgotten about the power of choice in our lives. What we are ‘choosing’ to do, and what we are ‘choosing not to do.’ The ‘busy-ness’ of our lives, the noise in our heads, seem to ‘short circuit’ our willingness or ability to be more ‘intentional’ (on purpose) about what we choose. Consequently, we ‘give away’ some of the important power to ‘live’ our lives and become some lesser version of who we could be.
Think about your own life. Do you find yourself saying that you have no time for this or that, your work or boss is so demanding, when you’re done with work you have all these responsibilities that life seems so overwhelming at times? Does it seem like other people’s choices are ‘crowding’ your own? Is this how you have come to see your life? Is that okay, or is there another way you want to think about it, and another way that you would prefer to live?
When my life begins to resemble the above, I find it beneficial to ask the ‘question behind the question’ (QBTQ). It is a time to examine not only what I’m choosing, but why. What value, belief, or deeply held assumption is at work in this particular area of my life? Exploring the QBTQ is often quite difficult, but it is the key to change. One word of warning – in the process of exploring the ‘QBTQ’ you may uncover information, knowledge, or develop an awareness that may be an ‘epiphany’ as it relates to the actions or thinking you want to change. The common thought is that once I have all the awareness and ‘data’ I need that the path to change will be linear and successful. It isn’t. Countless times I witness people that have all the information, knowledge, and awareness they need continue to make choices that are not in their best interest – baffling, frustrating, sometimes humorous. Why is that? I don’t know. My mentor, Dr. William Glasser, believed that we choose the behavior we do because it gives us the most control, regardless of whether or not it is ‘good’ for us. Maybe he’s right. It comes closer to explaining my own paradox between what I choose and what I ‘should’ choose.
We need to move on. Our awareness is still the cornerstone of change. Our motivation for all change comes when there is a perceived gap between where we are, and where we want to be. We need awareness to help us understand what it is we are choosing in order to choose to change… if we choose (intentionally confusing).
I have a friend who wanted to lose weight. After many failed attempts to lose weight and keep it off, I asked him if he knew what his ‘relationship’ was with food and the role food played in how he coped (QBTQ). He admitted he didn’t. In that moment, however, a light bulb went off. He understood that he was trying to solve for the symptom, but not the cause. In his case, once he started to work on the cause it was a much different and more difficult journey. He came to understand how and why he ‘abused’ food. He began to develop healthier coping skills. It was hard. He realized how a lifetime of attitudes and habits had to be formed, and how long it would take him to unlearn and relearn new ones. He chose the journey. After five years, he was able to lose weight and keep it off.
This is real life. The question behind the question can reveal deeply held beliefs, values, and assumptions about ourselves that have become habits that aren’t helping us. The journey to a different life is often difficult. It can also be transformational, your choice.
Is there a key QBTQ in your life – something that if you could change your thinking and/or your behavior about would make an incredible difference in the life you are choosing?
To a better you…
James Struck, President
B.A., M.A., Reality Therapy Certified
Leadership Vision, LLC
Jim has been owner/president of Leadership Vision, LLC in Carmel, Indiana since 2006. His firm is dedicated to improving leadership effectiveness of individuals and teams so they experience greater performance in their business lives, and greater satisfaction in their personal lives.
Prior to Leadership Vision, Jim spent 25 years in the collection industry; including 21 years as CEO of Mutual Hospital Services, Inc., a hospital-owned healthcare receivables management company in Indianapolis.
Jim has served as:
* Chairman of ACA’s Healthcare Services Program
* President of the Indiana Pressler Memorial Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)
* Executive Director of the National Healthcare Collectors Association (NHCA)
He writes and speaks extensively on leadership, employee engagement, personal productivity and energy management, and execution.
He obtained his B.A. degree from Hanover College and his Masters from Ball State University.