As a ‘change agent,’ the foundation of my coaching practice is asking powerful questions. These are defined as mindful, relevant, and meaningful questions – questions that best fit the problem, dilemma, or decision my clients face. Power questions must precede change – especially when faced with a crossroad. Power questions cause us to become still and stop the incessant noise in our heads with the hope of making wiser choices and better decisions. Power questions make us think. They make us feel. They can stump us right in our tracks and some can even sting a bit.
I created a list of my favorite power questions gathered through the years and I’m delighted to share them here with you. They have the capacity to change you, inspire you, or shift some aspect of your life. They are designed to draw you deep into reflection so you can focus on what matters most to you and those you love. Select and answer as many as you want and take your time answering. Be truthful; otherwise, they are useless. Perhaps you’ll find a question or two that can help someone you know. And enjoy this task. Most people tell me how powerful this process was for them as they rarely take time to reflect on their lives.
This first question was inspired by Caroline Myss, one of my most treasured mentors; I have every book she has ever written. I hope you pause and give this power question the attention it truly deserves.
01 |All of us are going to die. We could die tomorrow. Just because we are not presently ill does not mean we will live another day. We only have this moment and then the next, if we even have that. We only have each other. We only have each precious moment together. Comprehending this truth, I ask: Who are you still angry with and what issues need to be resolved in your life? Ask yourself if holding on to negative feelings are worth it. Is it a matter of pride; or that you need to get even with someone; or the need for the other person to validate the pain of your wound; or prove how unjust they were?
02 | How much of your day is spent in stress and how much in calm waters?
03 | What are your three greatest personal challenges?
04 | How deeply do you really want to know yourself; do you want to know all the ‘whys’ about you or are you prepared for maybe just a few?
05 | What is the dream you are postponing?
06 | If you were going to teach a college course, what course would you teach and why?
07 | What leaders do you look up to and why?
08 | What is one assumption people make about you that is dead wrong?
09 | If your life was a book, and you were the author, how would you want the story to go from this day forward?
10 | If you could go back and give your 21-year-old self a solid piece of advice, what would you say?
11 | If you could work on solving one problem in the world, what problem would it be and why?
12 | What is your personal brand and what is your tagline?
13 | Is there anything you have ever wanted to master but thought you were too old, not talented enough, or it would be a waste of time? What barriers are in the way and how can you remove them?
14 | What are the things that truly motivate you? How many of this last week’s 168 hours were engaged in these activities?
15 | What qualities do you love most in others? Do you possess these qualities?
16 | How often do you tell your family and friends how much you care about them and how much they mean to you?
17 | Do you find it difficult to accept compliments given to you by others?
18 | Is it challenging to acknowledge the gifts and accomplishments of others?
19 | What is your purpose, vision, mission statement, and values? Write it out so a twelve-year old could understand.
20 | Think of yourself as planning out three lives. Plan 1: This is what you are currently doing but you can change/alter it in some way. What would you change? Plan2: Imagine that Plan 1 suddenly went away and wasn’t coming back; what would you do then (assume you had to make a living doing this)? Plan 3: What would you do if money or image were not an issue? Perhaps you had some great idea incubating for years but it sat dormant? *
21 | What three life lessons have you learned in your lifetime that you want to pass on to your kids? Imagine being able to directly download into their minds/hearts.
22 | If you thought of yourself as the CEO of your own life, what problem would you solve first, and how would you do it?
23 | Do you hesitate to do what you want because you are dependent on what others would say?
24 | What is the one thing you have postponed changing about yourself? Are you prepared to make that change now?
25 | What are three very unusual qualities about yourself that define who you are?
26 | Who is your mentor(s) and what recent challenge have you sought their advice on?
27 | What is the one mistake you have made in your life that you wish you could go back and change?
28 | What specific mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual activities do you engage in to keep yourself operating at an optimal level?
29 | Think about a “story” that you consistently tell yourself. What is it? In other words, it’s like you have a roommate in your head. Think about what that conversation is like.
30 | How well is your current job meeting your need for meaningful, challenging, engaging work? If it’s falling short, what changes can you or your organization make?
31 | What three qualities do you appreciate most about yourself?
32 | If you could trust that your children would be fine, what would you do with the rest of your life?
33 | How valuable is prayer or meditation time?
34 | If you could be any kind of animal, what kind would it be? (Just wanted to spice up these questions a bit!)
35 | What are your three greatest fears and which two do you know you could release right now?
36 | If you were not to hold back in your life, what would you be doing?
37 | Where have you most struggled in life and perhaps are still struggling today?
38 | How does hiding what you don’t like about yourself impact your relationships at work and home? (What is it about yourself that you don’t want others to see? Is it selfishness, jealously, need to overconsume, depression, lack of security, lack of motivation, insecurity, etc.?)
39 | Do you know your important health numbers (blood pressure; cholesterol; BMI, etc.)?
40 | While growing up, what was your family culture like; was it typical, different, hard, unique? How has being a member of your family of origin impacted your life?
41 | Create a ‘to stop’ list and a ‘to begin’ list, considering both personal and work life. How is this different than a ‘to do’ list?
42 | If a doctor told you that your life depends on your changing the way you live, what would you do first for yourself?
43 | How does your current work role fit into your long-term career development plan?
44 | Are you aware of the self-limiting beliefs you have – that you believe are true – that run your life and stop you from truly living?
45 | What activities give you meaning, purpose, and belonging?
46 | If you knew you were beautiful just as you are, what would change for you?
47 | When do you get “triggered” at work? What is happening? When do you get “triggered” at home? What is happening?
48 | What makes you feel truly alive?
49 | Whose opinion matters as much to you about your life as your opinion matters to you?
50 | What gets you up in the morning and keeps you awake at night?
May we all acknowledge that life is way too short to not fully live! So go out and live life fully!
*From Designing Your Life by Burnett and Evans