Today we have a guest post courtesy of Brenton Russell of Uncork Your Mind. While he’s a relative newcomer in the lifestyle design niche, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the articles on his blog. In this post, Brenton talks about two simple questions you should ask whenever you face an obstacle. You’ll definitely want to check this out, because this gives an actionable process you can use whenever you face a difficult challenge…
If you’ve ever seen the show ‘Jeopardy’ you’d know that in order to win you just need to ask the right questions. Like the game show when you encounter challenges, uncertainty or new information in life if you ask the right questions the way forward becomes apparent.
The right question cuts to the heart of any issue leading you to actionable solutions.
Two powerful questions that can be used to dissect just about any problem and unlock the way forward are:
- “So What?”
Let me explain!
The easiest part of a problem is to observe it. Unfortunately most of us stop here preferring to admire the problem rather than understand its implications or find a solution. Why? Because identifying a problem often doesn’t require much thought; just perception.
Analysis of a problem and finding and implementing a solution requires far more mental discipline than just identifying it. Determining the implications and potential applications of new information is the same. So What? If you develop the habit of analysis you will be rewarded with action plans for overcoming your challenges and the ability to exploit new information.
Solving Problems with “Why?”
The extended version of “Why?” is
- “So Why Is This So?”
By the very nature of asking this question, you are now determining how this problem came to be. You are effectively exploringcausal effects: determining the relationship between an event (the cause) and a subsequent event (effect). With a deeper understanding of problems and their causes more appropriate actions can be identified to solve the challenge. Think of it like treating the actual cause of an issue rather than just its symptoms.
Exploiting New Info with “So What?”
The long version of “So What?” is:
- “So What Does This Mean?”
Asking yourself ‘So What?’ of the information around you allows this to be transformed into useful deductions. Again it is the very nature of the question “So What?” that leads you to make these deductions. From here it is only a short step from these deductions to useful actions.
Keep Asking Until Action is Obvious
When encountering a specific problem or information, if the first “Why?” or “So What?” didn’t lead you to an actionable solution, then keep asking. Repeat these questions until you have a plan of attack for solving the problem or have drawn useful deductions from the specific information.
Here’s a couple of my real life examples:
Problem: The email list from my website is not growing very quickly.
- No many people are using my sign up box.
- Ask “Why?” again – You can barely see it amongst the rest of my page.
- Ask “Why?” again – There’s not really a compelling reason to give up your email address.
Action Plan: Spice up the design of my sign up box, shift it further up the page and create a free, compelling offer upon sign up that people can’t refuse.
- Not many people are actually seeing my sign up box.
- Ask “Why?” again – Because my traffic is not high enough.
- Ask “Why?” again – Because when people come to my site they are fixated on the article from the link that brought them there.
Action Plan: Create a squeeze page designed just for signing up to my email list and link to this page (instead of my homepage or specific posts) in future articles, guest posts and social media avenues.
Information: I recently heard an opinion that anyone can make money blogging, it just takes five years (Steve Pavlina).
- If I want to make money from my blog I need to manage my expectations about when it will be financial viable.
- Blogging success seems much harder than I originally thought. I need to be prepared for hard work with little initial financial reward.
- If it is going to take a while to be successful at blogging I really should be choosing something that I am interested in.
- If financial success takes time, while I am developing my blog I need to have goals and measures of success that aren’t just income related.
Action Plan: I am going to commit to creating a blog but I am going to pick that topic that I really love. I now realise that I am going to need other sources of income initially so I am going to look for some part time work that will support me financially while I am developing the website. I will measure my success in the first year by my engagement with readers and the blogging community and I will now revise my target for when I aim to have my blog generating an income that can support my lifestyle design.
Put It Into Action
Asking “Why?” and “So What?” are powerful ways to dissect problems and identify actionable solutions. Asking these questions trains your mind to analyse problems and information rather than just admire them. Think of the biggest problem or significant information that you have recently encountered but ignored: ask “Why?” and “So What?” now and see what solutions you can instantly identify!
Steve’s Note: In addition to what many of the blogs on the internet will tell you, Brenton believes that there is more to lifestyle design than creating a passive online income! Learn more about other practical lifestyle design techniques at Brenton Russell’s Lifestyle Design Blog ‘Uncork Your Mind’ regardless of what your desired life looks like.Take Action. Get Results.