Pretty much every action we do is motivated by something other than the act itself. We are always answering some bigger psychological question. Let me give you a personal example to make this more tangible. For me, the question of “What sort of ancestor do I want to be I?” motivates a significant amount of my actions.
It means that when I maintain and upgrade my home, I am thinking decades into the future. I am asking “What would the next people to live in this house think of what I have done?” Will they think, this was shoddy work or something closer to “This has stood the test of time”?
The same is true in terms of climate change. I want my decisions to be responsible for the long-term. I don’t want to short-change younger generations, both born and unborn. My decisions clearly aren’t going to be perfect because I choose to fly, drive or heat my home in ways that are detrimental to the environment, but I am nevertheless continually looking for ways to improve my “good ancestor score“. It also means I want to give my children the best possible upbringing.
Other more immediate questions like “How can I better provide for my family?“, “How can I be of service?” and “How might I make more of a difference?” govern choices and decisions around the work and volunteering I choose to take on. They are very much on my mind.
All of this is subject to the question I have been answering since my late 20s: “How can I live a balanced life?” Some questions are more strategic, but this is very tactical, very much in the mud and is answered each and every day. Some days I find better answers than others, but I always get to answer it again if I am not happy with the answers I’m finding.
What Questions Are You Answering?
The invitation then is to look at your actions through the lens of bigger questions. Ask yourself:
- Given what I am doing, what questions must I be answering?
- Am I happy with the answers?
- Might I look for other answers?
I continually see people work in jobs to put food on the table even though the jobs don’t satisfy them. Might there be other options?
Others take on roles because they give them a sense of status and power and yet rob them of the time and energy they claim to want to spend with family and friends. The reality is that the questions pertaining to status and power are their priorities.
What priorities must you have given your actions?
Questions in the Image:
- What question is important for me?
- How does it influence my daily choices?
- How would life be different if I could answer this question?
Want to Read More Around This Topic?
A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger (link to Amazon.co.uk). This book delves into the importance of questioning in life and work, exploring how the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners. It offers practical insights on how to cultivate the art of asking more and more effective questions.
Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. Tiredness in the morning might be asking: How might I ease into the day? Am I expecting too much from myself? What might this cost me today?
What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.