The aspect of professional business and life coaching that I love most is asking questions, and I share (a wee bit tongue in cheek) in my bio that I've been asking questions since 1965, roughly the year I started talking. I've been curious ever since, so you can well imagine my delight at discovering a profession that is all about asking questions!
I have my favourites - questions I never get tired of asking - but I'm also always looking for new ways of asking. For the more flexible we become with our questions, the more effective we become with our clients.
One way that I've developed this flexibility is by reading. Books, blog posts, magazines - the medium doesn't matter as much as the content. Reading quenches my thirst for learning and inspires both my coaching and writing. It's also given me a mad passion for quotes which I've collected for years. I've found that people often see themselves in quotes. For this reason, I share them with clients as another access to thinking in a new way. My collection of quotes has become yet another powerful tool in my coaching toolkit.
Today I share my favourite quotes on questioning as a way of life...
21 Quotes to Empower Your Coaching Questions
- “It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.” - Albert Einstein. Sometimes we're quick to jump in and ask another question if the client is slow in answering. Take a deep breath and wait. Let them be with the question as long as they need.
- “I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It's all a question of how I view my life.” - Paulo Coelho
- “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein
- “The Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two,' said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” -Douglas Adams, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ever notice that quite often our work is simpler than you think? This quote may seem silly, but it points to how complicated we make things. What if the answer really is 42?
- “There are four questions of value in life: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? and What is worth dying for? The answer to each is same. Only love.” - Johnny Depp
- “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ” - Randy Pausch, from The Last Lecture. This one gets me every time because in a world so often lured into someday thinking, this question is a great reality check.
- “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he's one who asks the right questions.” - Claude Levi-Strauss
- “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” - Martin Luther King Jr. As coaches we are always in service of others. The privilege of this is profound.
- “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” - William S. Burroughs. Yes! Your job as a coach is to ask the question and wait. Don't rush in. Bite your tongue if you have to, but wait...give the client space.
- “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” - Confucius
- "The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” - Anton Chekhov
- “Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers." - Rainer Maria Rilke
- “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” - Fred Rogers. Is this not a great description of coaching? Remember to listen with your ears AND your heart. Thanks Mr. Rogers!
- “Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. The first question was, 'Did you bring joy?' The second was, 'Did you find joy?” - Leo Buscaglia. As fellow Erickson coach Jason Sugar says, "Joy is the point!"
- “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." - Joseph Campbell. We all get the call. Are you willing to say yes?
- “At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” - Leo Babauta
- “The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.” - Madeleine L'Engle. As a coach it's important to remember we don't have to have all the answers, and we don't have to have it all handled. Remember your humanity.
- “It's not a question of learning much. On the contrary. It's a question of UNLEARNING much." - Osho
- "That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. "Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” - Mary Oliver. If someone asked you this question today, what would you say?
- “I find relief from the questions only when I concede that I am not obliged to know everything. I remind myself it is sufficient to know what I know, and that what I know, may not always be true.” - Maya Angelou
- “Enjoy the questions and forget the answers.” - Paulo Coelho
And one bonus quote...
“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question.” - Ruby Dee. Don't be afraid to rock the boat. Ask the question that's there to be asked.
Our fabulous Erickson trainer, Lynn Skotnitsky shared the following:
"It is not only by the questions we have answered that progress may be measured, but also by those questions we are still asking." - Freda Schaffer Adler
"It is the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think." - Patrick Rothfuss
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." - Rainer M. Rilke
Over to You: What are your favourite questions, or quotes on questions? Share in the comments below.