Seven Questions to Broaden Your View to Achieve More
This month, my hometown of Minneapolis will set a record for February snowfall, shattering the former record set in 1962. The big picture view is stunning: a fluffy white blanket that sparkles in the sunlight, pine trees, oaks and maples laden with snow, and mounds of snow piled high along the driveways and roads creating tunnels of sorts.
Interestingly, it’s those piles of snow that when separated from the broader view create a significant challenge for me – they narrow my perspective. When I exit my neighborhood, I need to drive slowly to regain the big picture and assess if it is prudent to proceed. I understand the consequences of blindly turning onto a busy road.
Have you every made a career decision based on a narrow perspective only to be proven wrong? I certainly have. I once turned down a job offer based on my point of view that there were limits on how someone could advance from the position offered. Better off, I concluded, to continue in my current role and see what other options I could generate from there. Guess what? The person who accepted the position experienced success and was promoted. Meanwhile, my career stalled for a while. Why? Because I didn’t bring the big picture into view, nor did I seek out other perspectives from my network, before I made my decision.
Throughout a long career as a human resources leader, I saw many others make similar mistakes as I did in that instance. Too often, we make assumptions by combining our past experiences with our present view. This is a good first step for projecting future outcomes, but more steps are needed to gain a broader view that allows for a more informed decision and greater opportunity.
Now, as an executive coach, I am in the business of helping others broaden their perspectives to avoid missteps and achieve greater career success. Through coaching, I am able to help my clients avoid getting stuck by a limited view. Becoming “unstuck” allows people to navigate all sorts of career obstacles and discover opportunities. It clears the way for more collaborative work, it reduces workplace drama, and it optimizes the decision-making process – whether that relates to individual or team goals.
While every coaching client and session will vary, I use questions to stimulate discussion and encourage action with the goal of taking a broader view and becoming unstuck. Seven of the questions I like to use include:
- What is your current perspective? This simple question gets people to articulate how they view their situation or issue.
- What assumptions are you making? By listing out their assumptions, more information is revealed on how they view things and why they are focusing on a certain perspective.
- What other perspectives are there? This brings into the conversation other ideas that may have been reviewed or proposed by others. Coaches are trained in techniques to help people see more perspectives for greater choice.
- Can we brainstorm some additional ideas? Brainstorming and building on ideas continues to generate more concepts.
- Who else might be helpful in talking to? This question enables people to consider others that they may not have thought to include to gain additional perspectives or ideas.
- What’s possible? An open question like this allows clients to see and talk about the possibilities as opposed to being stuck in the situation.
- What else? This question often allows more ideas to flow and broadens perspectives even more.
After conversation on these questions and others, many coaching clients start viewing things from a broader perspective and are better equipped to make choices about how they want to move forward. They are no longer stuck.
I can attest that the decision I made earlier in my career to stay put rather than to accept a new job in my organization would have been more informed if I been coached to take in a broader view.
We all get stuck at different points in our lives on both personal and work-related matters. Having a friend, mentor or coach to help us see the big picture and bring it into focus is invaluable to making more informed decisions that can lead to greater possibilities.
How can executive coaching help broaden your perspective, get unstuck and help you successfully achieve what’s next?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Find out more about Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at oppnacoaching.com