President, Lefkoe Institute
October 05, 2010
What do you desperately desire, that the more you get, the harder it will be to achieve your goals in life?
Let me explain.
It seems that nothing would make us happier than getting the answer to our questions, such as how to improve our relationships, how to make more money, and how to get anything else we want in life.
But answers are a type of belief. They are a solution to a problem, the way to do or get something.
And like all beliefs, answers are “a truth,” not “the truth.” Like all beliefs, answers are limiting, whereas questions are constantly pointing us in the right direction. In fact, answers actually prevent learning and change. Questions make them possible.
Learning and changing are relatively easy—when we don’t think we already have the answers. Most children naturally and effortlessly acquire such complicated skills as learning how to speak and read. For children, learning is a not a difficult task.
As we grow older something happens in most of us that severely hinders our learning: we think we already know the truth—we already have the answer.
To make this assertion real, consider this:
What do you ask a lot of when you don’t know how to do something? You ask questions, right?
What happens to the questions when you discover how to do it? They stop, don’t they?
If you think you already know the right way to do something, how open are you to learning a better way? You aren’t, are you?
The history of corporate icons, such as GM and Lehman Brothers, is filled with stories of companies that thought they knew how to succeed, that were convinced they had the answer for how to succeed—and that failed while still proclaiming they were doing the right thing.
You see there is no “right” way to do anything at all times under all conditions. There is only the best strategy for the moment. And as circumstances change, the best way to deal with them changes also.
That gives us a clue to an alternative for “answers.” Instead of trying to find the “right” way to do or achieve anything, look for the best way at the moment. And then keep asking the same question regularly. If your reality doesn’t change much, the best way of dealing with it probably won’t change much either. But when reality changes enough, the best way of dealing with it will change, and the old answer will no longer be a good one.
This is why in a world that is changing rapidly strategies developed early in the year at a corporate retreat usually become inappropriate long before the end of the year. The same principle is true for individuals who are constantly looking for answers for how to achieve their goals. What worked yesterday or what worked for someone else, won’t necessarily work today or for you.
Don’t ever settle for the “answer.” Always hold your answers as working hypotheses, subject to constant checking and actual revisions when necessary. Live out of questions and observe what emerges. I promise you will be more successful than if you operate out of answers derived from what worked for you yesterday or what worked for someone else.
Please share any comments you have on these thoughts on why answers prevent new learning and actually can inhibit our ability to get what we want in life.
Morty Lefkoe is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a system for permanently eliminating limiting beliefs. For more information go to http://recreateyourlife.com.