Asking the right questions is more important than finding perfect answers to the wrong ones.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve spent some time coaching entrepreneurs. These business owners face very different challenges, but at the heart the search for the right answers lies a profound reality: When you continually throw solutions at a problem that never goes away, you’re trying to solve the wrong problem.
One of the tools I’ve used to help identify the real problem is a single question and a one-page answer.
If you’re battling with a problem you can’t resolve, write a one page essay (for yourself, no-one has to read it) to answer this question:
“What is the cause of your anxiety right now regarding your future? What
unanswered questions keep plaguing your mind?”
Rather than trying to solve a problem that you don’t fully understand, writing about your anxieties and feelings brings out some deeper insights about the real problem. That’s right, I said it. Feelings. If you’re a guy, this might sound foreign to you, but we all have them.
The essays my clients wrote were full of raw emotion, as they grappled with burning questions, but in their writing, the real issue bubbled to the surface. Instead of trying to solve what the entrepreneurs thought was the problem when they first approached me, exploring their emotions and anxieties lead us to uncover the real issue, which was very different from the original problem. They were trying to solve a symptom of the problem, but not the cause. And this is not the Rocky Horror.
Valuable data is everywhere. Somewhere in our confusion about finding the right course of action lies the clarity of wisdom that identifies the way forward. Too much noise makes it difficult to identify the signals we should be looking for. Instead of responding to the right information, we end up following the noise. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring in someone from the outside to pick out what you’re missing, and highlight the key issues in your own noise.
This week, I’ve brought enthusiasm and passion back into the lives of at least two entrepreneurs. I hope their learning will help you.
This year, I’m actively expanding my database to reach as many entrepreneurs and small business owners as possible. Everybody knows at least one entrepreneur. Forward this to your entrepreneur contacts, and if you’ve received this, please sign up for the mailing list. In 2016, I’m researching SME’s, and I need your help reaching them.