The Right Question

If you’re getting worked up about a situation, stop. You are likely asking the wrong question.

That’s what my truth-teller (aka the “husband”) said to me last week. He loves me and is invested enough in me to point out when I take off in an unproductive direction.

The scenario:

The 3rd accelerant of personal disruption is ’embrace your constraints.’ I had a hard deadline on a project but very little time to work on it. Postponing was not an option. I needed to give my constraints, not just any old hug, but a huge bear hug.

The conversation started out gently enough. Here’s what I need to do; here’s the time I have to do it. That was the rational, logical approach.

Then, I started asking different questions: “Should I have started working on this earlier? Should I have created more time to work on this instead of letting other priorities fight their way to the top of the to-do list? Should I have worked all day Sunday even though I have committed not to for religious reasons? Picture me, working myself into a perseverating frenzy.

These are important questions to ask. I’m recognizing that part of growing up is threading our way through a variety of questions. But this was not the moment to ask them. Faced with the deadline, I needed to ask what would help me do the best that I can, given the circumstances, and without time-wasting wallowing (oh, this is so awful and challenging, I think I’ll run from the bear). Once the project was done, then I could with a forgiving eye ask the other questions. What could I do to manage a similar situation better next time? How can I spend less time wandering down unproductive neural pathways?

Pardon the interruption. I want to tailor this newsletter to better meet your needs, so we are conducting a brief audience survey here. It will take about a minute, and it would be very kind of you! As a thank you, when you complete it, you will get a free PDF download about changing jobs.

The wrong questions are those that don’t help you do what you need to get done now. Analyzing how you’ve gotten in the stressful pickle doesn’t help in a pressure-filled moment or day. Stop battling—competing—with your circumstances, and start creating by embracing the constraints of those circumstances, whatever they are.

If you find yourself getting worked up, stop asking the wrong question; start asking the right question.

How am I going to create with what I have right now? How can my constraint become a tool of creation?

Our podcast this week is with the Chief Learning and Diversity Officer at Kraft Heinz, Pamay Bassey. She’s the author of the daily interactive journal, Let’s Learn Our Way Through It, Shall We? She is also one of the most interesting people I know.

Pamay’s resume looks classically corporate, but her background is more unconventional. The comedy stage, rather than the corporate office, was her initial professional love. This was a delightful conversation for me, and I think you’ll agree. Please join us.

My best,

P.S. At the end of the podcast interview, there’s a giveaway opportunity! If you respond to the question asked, you will be eligible for one of Pamay’s reflection journals. I am making five available!

P.P.S. Last week we had a glitch in our system. Those who tried to access the podcast with Leena Nair were directed to the wrong webpage. The link has since been corrected. Please take the time to listen to Leena’s advice for connecting to your purpose.

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