It’s not a secret but rather a discovery. Just like exercise releases endorphins into the body, recent science has learned that “questions” engage our brain’s critical thinking. Research shows that asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150%.

There are four different ways we can frame a question if we were to draw a circle and put four words around the circle as follows.

BIG, SMALL, SPECIFIC and BROAD. See graph:

Then, we can cut the circle into quadrants so that they will represent the four different ways that we can frame a question.

The top right quadrant : Big and Specific
The top left quadrant: Big and Broad
The bottom left quadrant: Small and Broad
The bottom right quadrant: Small and specific

l “A Big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary for achieving a big goal.”

It turns out those leaders who produce incredible results start with the end or goal in mind. Then, they set the goal in the form of a question.

 

 

This is the focusing question: “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Keller and Papasan, in their recent book, “The ONE Thing,” based an entire work on what they call the focusing question. What’s so simple is that by first thinking Big and Specific and then inserting that goal into the focusing question, it produces a massive plan and path for results in pursuing the answer.

This is the focusing question: “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Rather than have a goal of, “increase sales next year,” which is not big and specific, this theory suggests that you make it bigger and more specific and turn it into the focusing question like this: “What’s the ONE thing I can do to double sales in six months such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This simply forces us to brain storm and answer the question.

It might lead us to a list of five or ten things we need to do to accomplish the goal and answer the question. If we don’t have the answer, then the answer is to go research and role model to find the answer.

If there are multiple things that must be done, our next job is to pick the thing that is most important and make that our ONE Thing until it’s done, then move on to the next most important thing.

The truth is that powerful and successful people simply have learned how to ask bigger and more specific questions, unlike most who tend to live in “average” simply because they don’t realize they can ask any question, regardless the size. This next chart demonstrates the different levels of questions.

If we have a doable goal or question (something we’ve already done), we’ve already decided to live in average. A stretch goal/question is where we begin to challenge ourselves and when we move to the possibility area and beyond, we begin to breathe some rare air as there are not many folks choosing to live with the big goals and questions that must be answered out there.