From “if you decided to become an evangelist, which state would you base yourself in?” to “if you had to experience one trauma that your mother had to go through in order to understand her better, what would you pick?” – this month’s book, If…Questions for the Soul by Evelyn MacFarlane and James Saywell asks some very interesting questions.
This is a book that can inspire hours of contemplation and discussion, and I highly recommend picking it up if you are going on a road trip with an old friend or hosting a dinner party for your soul family.
I chose this book for our clarity-themed month because it highlights the incredible power of asking questions, and I’ve wanted to explore that a little further with you. One of the core principals of my creativity coach training, Kaizen-Muse, is the idea of asking small questions. (The idea of small questions comes from One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, Dr. Robert Maurer.)
Questions wake up our brains, inspire curiosity, dislodge default thinking and open us up to multiple possibilities. Small questions are ones that don’t trigger huge fear in us. For example, “how can I quit my soul-sucking corporate job and support myself with the same income next month?” is probably not a small question for most of us. A small question might look more like, “how can I make work tomorrow 5% more fun that it was today?” Or maybe, “how can I start to generate a little extra easy income in my spare time?”
I’ve wanted to marry up the idea of small questions with ideas from a couple of fantastic posts from Luciano Passuello of litemind.com that explore the power of questions combined with forced creativity. I’m going to add my own slant and paraphrase, but you can read the originals here: 10 Best Ways to Harness the Power of Questions and Tackle Any Issue With a List of 100. They’re both excellent!
You’re going to need about an hour, distraction-free, with a pen/paper or open writing document on your computer to do this exercise.
Step #1: Pick a Problem or Area of Your Life Where You Desire Change
Let’s take the example from above – you hate your soul-sucking corporate job and want to do something else that you love instead that still pays just as much. Preferably you want to do this instantly, but you’re not sure of what you love to do.
Step #2: Break the Problem Down into a Workable Problem
You may have chosen a workable problem in step #1, but I’m guessing you chose several, disguised as one, like the example above. Breaking it down into workable problems is half the battle. Try identifying the problems by using sentences of no more than 5 words without using “and,” “but” or any commas. From above:
I hate my soul-sucking job.
My income can’t change.
I want to change immediately.
I can’t find my passion.
Step #3: Pick Your Workable Problem
Pick the most pressing workable problem. We’re going to do “I hate my soul-sucking job.”
Step #4: Write Down 100 Small Questions in One Sitting
This can be pretty tough – I just did my own version of this and it took a solid thirty minutes to write my 100 questions, and I type pretty quickly! It’s important to do this in one sitting in order to bypass your logical ‘standard’ answers.
According to Passuello, the first 30 will be the standard circular thinking ones, the next forty is where you will see patterns, and the last thirty are where you find gold. I’ve found this to be true – my last thirty questions were ones I would never have thought I would come up with, and they are interesting ones!
For our example, you might start off with questions like:
- How can I have 5% more fun at lunch?
- How can I make my office more comfortable?
- How can I handle that annoying coworker so that I’m not angry every day?
- How can I make the work more interesting?
- How can I make my commute more fun?
But you may end on a radically different note, like “how can I be of the highest service in my current position?” Or maybe “how is this job serving my spiritual evolution?”
Step #5: Curate Your Questions
Pick 10-25 of your most valuable questions and transfer them somewhere that you can view them often.
Step #6: Allow the Answers
You don’t need to force anything to come to you – just let yourself sit with the questions and review them every other day or so. Let them percolate in your brain/heart/spirit and see what comes from them.
What workable problem will you choose? Leave a comment and let us know!
If you’d prefer to download a pretty, printable version of this exercise, click here. For additional questions from If…Questions for the Soul, click here for a downloadable PDF with three of my favorites.