The types of questions we ask so often determine the answers we find. Using a flashlight analogy, we have a choice about where we want to shine the light and what we want to focus on. Upon entering a dark room, we can shine in in the corners if we are looking for cockroaches or we can shine it on the walls if we are looking for works of art or for windows. Where we choose to shine the light matters.
Asking, “What’s wrong?” is not the same as asking, “What’s strong?” A study of people being videotaped while learning to bowl illustrates this nicely. Half of the group watched videotapes of their spares and strikes while the other half watched videos where they failed to knock all the pins down. When they bowled again later, the group who had watched the positive videos outperformed the other group significantly.
This has relevance beyond the bowling alley. In schools, in offices and at home, whenever we problem solve, we narrow our focus. When we focus on strengths, we open up possibilities, enhance motivation and foster creativity.
Language isn’t neutral. The questions we ask our colleagues, our kids, our loved ones, and ourselves really matter. Instead of asking about problems, inquire about possibilities.
If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.