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The Number One Question All Leaders Should Be Asking

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Questions are the greatest way to express curiosity, and to actually get to know somebody. As an educator, a father, neurolinguistic programmer, and media specialist, I know how powerful communication can be.

Communications power is the ability to get to know someone. To build rapport and to work out if we are in the same tribe, speaking the same language. We only understand 7% of verbal communication. 38% is our voice and tone. 55% is body language. So when we message or email someone, we are barely communicating. If we are not careful face to face communication can be just as ineffective.

In our work and everyday life we will often be called upon to conduct an interview. This might be in a formal way, such as a manager with a potential new employee, or informally as a parent meeting a son or daughter’s new partner. Sometimes this might be free style, to see where the conversation takes us, and other times we might use our organisations set list of questions.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

Ineffective communication and questioning

The problem is, the questions are often boring, ineffective, or not relevant. Or they have been asked so many times before, the interviewee reels off a pre-prepared answer, which blurs in the mind of the interviewer with every other candidate she/he has spoken to that day.

Questions like: What is your greatest weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years? Or perhaps the worst of all, “tell me about yourself?” Why is that last one so toxic? Well what do you think they will answer?

Not only will they be reciting a familiar response, but it will also be a mix of what they think you want to hear, and their own made up story of themselves. It is natural to do this, as it is our own perception of ourselves, and mind-reading of what others think of us. Left to our own devices we can be influenced by ego, humility, self-limiting beliefs, and imposter syndrome.

Effective communication and questioning

If we want to really uncover more about the person we are speaking to, we should try this: “Tell me about the world?”Why is that so powerful? Well, to quote the Marvel film Dr Strange, “you’re a man looking at the world, through a keyhole.”

How we view the world is a reflection of ourselves. It may include what we perceive as opportunities and threats, perhaps biases and our overall outlook on life. Is the person we are speaking to open-minded, have an insight on where the world is heading, are they success-minded optimists, or negative and ignorant, with a tendency to blame others?

Are they literal, “it’s a planet orbiting the sun”, or romantic, “it’s a wonderful place full of inspirational people with the capacity to create amazing things, but too often negativity and hate clouds our potential.” Did they focus on the country they live in? A particular subject? Their own family?

“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” – Nat Turner

It is a much more interesting question, and one that few people are asked. They may request clarity, because it is so open and you may be guiding them in to uncharted waters. Every person will answer in a different way, and it will usually provide a much deeper insight as to who they really are.

Not only is this great for interviews, but it can also be a way to break out of small talk. When two people meet it can be visualized as a Venn diagram. Sure, we will probably have some overlap whether that is sports, where we work, parents, gaming, or religion. And the tendency will be to stick to those topics.

But isn’t the real fun in the areas we don’t overlap on? The problem is we often don’t know what questions to ask about it, because we don’t know what you don’t know. This question is a great way of exploring new territory. So, tell me about the world?

Darren Horne is an educator and consultant focusing on leadership and communications. He is an author of an award winning book, a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, on the board of trustees for an alcohol and addiction charity, and has been interviewed globally. His mission is to help a million people be a little happier. Darren also owns a martial arts studio focusing on mindfulness, emotional intelligence and life performance. You can find him on Facebook, and www.darrenhorne.com.

Success Advice

5 Smart Goals to Make This Year Your Most Successful Ever

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Setting goals at the start of the year means you will know exactly what you need to do throughout the year to be successful. By setting goals, it forces you to build a plan about how you intend to achieve those goals. By having a plan in place, you will wake up every morning with a clear idea of what it is you need to do each day. Just by writing down your goals, there is a 42% greater chance you will achieve those goals than if they just stayed in your head. It may seem like a small thing but actually creating goals every year and then writing them down significantly improves your chances of success. (more…)

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7 Ways to Face Adversity Using the Power of Extreme Ownership

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Adversity is an inevitable part of our lives, and it is an important and defining factor of our personal story. The stories we build for ourselves in the face of adversity will either empower or discourage us emotionally, help us move forward or remain stuck in the past, allow us to grow or to decline. (more…)

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Why Your Confidence Needs to Match Your Competence

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Even if you produce amazing results at your job or in other areas of your life, others may still not see you as being competent if you lack the confidence to back it up. If you are good at your job, exuding confidence will ensure others also recognize your competence in your area of expertise. And research backs this up. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Learn From The 5am Club by Robin Sharma

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It has been said by Robin Sharma, “5 AM is the time of least distraction, highest human glory, and greatest peace.” This also happens to be the central idea or the core value he has discussed in his book, ‘The 5 Am Club.’ Speaking of early mornings, at what time do you wake up? Are you annoyed by the fact that you wake up on the edge of time and then rush to work in haste? 

The life lessons put forth by The 5 AM Club are exactly the learning and motivation you need to challenge your complacency. In your race against time, you may not have the time to read this fabulous book. So, we have summed up the key book’s takeaways for your convenience.

1. The vigor of waking up early

This is what the book’s most fundamental advice to everyone is. Waking up at 5 am every day can work wonders to avert failures and make success a natural habit. When we wake up at 5 am, we have more time on our hands than others. Besides, this is when we have minimum interruptions and maximum powerfulness of the mind. 

To add, the early morning peace is priceless! You can schedule your most important tasks of the day between 5am, and 8am. This book teaches us in the simplest way, how we can train our mind and strengthen it to deliver the highest productivity by waking up early. This energy that you have when you wake up in the morning and the few additional hours in your day are what serve as perfect ingredients for success.

“The secret to productivity is simplicity.” – Robin Sharma

2. The power of finding the right balance in life

The book talks about a precious lesson of finding the right balance within. We often talk about the need for mindfulness and achieving the right mindset to perceive things. But this book goes a few steps ahead of our usual approach to life. It highlights the vitality of mindset and introduces the concepts of heartset, healthset, and soulset.

These terms may seem new, but they are self-explanatory. The idea of heartset endorses the essentialness of emotional stability and well-being. Next, the perspective of healthset indicates the need to look after physical health. At last, soulset is an attribute of spirituality. As explained in this book, success prospects can be enhanced big time by achieving the right balance between these internal virtues.

3. The iconic 20/20/20 modus operandi

What is the first thing you will do if you start waking up at 5 am every day? Did you ever spare a thought about it? This book has the answer to this question, and you will be convinced that it is a great way to begin your day!. The author suggests that you should split the first hour of the day into three equal parts of 20 minutes each.

In the first 20 minutes of the day, you should prioritize your physical fitness and exercise. In the next 20 minutes, you should energize your soul and spirit via self-reflection and soulful meditation. This will prepare you for the rest of the day and will enable you to bolster your commitment and focus. In the last 20 minutes of the first hour, you should read and learn. But what are you going to read about in those 20 minutes? Read about successful people and their inspiring journeys to the pinnacle of success.

4. The significance of a proper sleep schedule

In this book, there is a mention of ‘a ferocious global sleep recession’, which is intriguing and enlightening. It hints at the state of sleep deprivation that this world is sinking into gradually. We often associate success and hard work with the notion of staying up all night and testing our endurance beyond limits. But that is not the right approach to accomplishing success, or rather, it is a flawed methodology.

Sometimes even if we do not have any critical work, we keep whiling our night time on social media or television. What are we gaining from it is the real question, and I am afraid the answer is nothing! We learn from this book that it is critical to look after your sleep cycle and start your day at 5 am afresh. Sleep and rest are indispensable for mental and physical well-being, or your productivity will decline.

“If you want to have the results only 5% have, you must be willing to do and think like only 5% do and think.” – Robin Sharma

5. The art of evolving

The book sheds light on the need to be spiritual and master self-reflection. However, do you realize the purpose that the routine of reflection each morning serves? The idea is to keep learning, keep reflecting on the mistakes and keep evolution an ongoing process. You should evolve every day and strive to be a better version of yourself every day. So, one of your primary goals after waking up should be to reflect on your actions and missed opportunities of the previous day.

To recapitulate, The 5 AM Club is a must-read book if you are a passionate reader. It has the prowess and charm to refurbish your perception of life altogether. Even if you cannot read the book for some reason, make sure you incorporate the above key takeaways into your life. By starting your day at 5 am, you can rediscover your lost soul and enthusiasm, and you would not have complaints to make about the lack of time. If you can own your mornings, you can go places on the ladder of success, for excuses are only for those who are not committed to their goals.

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