Recently, I had a deja vu’ experience. I found myself at the table with an incredible client team of leaders who were solving a significant business challenge. 

Looking around the Zoom room, I could see all the tell tale signs of a team intent on excellence: laser focused attention, data rich analysis, and ideas firing in rapid fire staccato. 

The ideas emerging were good but not great, and the team knew it. And so they did what we all do: Run Faster, Try Harder, Mine More Data. And the longer we brainstormed, the team became more frustrated and the solutions less compelling.

I suggested a pause. We all stood, physically moved some energy, and refreshed ourselves with laughter and snacks before coming back to the issue. Before we refastened our “problem solving hats,” I asked 4 questions:

  1. Why does our work matter in the world? In other words, if we went away tomorrow, what does the world potentially miss out on because we’re gone? 
  2. If we look at our current challenge through that lens of that purpose, what are possible outcomes that would make us excited and proud? 
  3. Of those outcomes, what feels safe to try? 
  4. What is the path from where we are to our safe to try outcome? 

Beginning with inquiry that orients us to purpose and reminds us that our WHY is a game changer. It is a choice to look up from what’s at hand and gaze towards the horizon of what’s possible. This is where inspiration lives. 

Better questions also help us access intelligence beyond our thinking mind. They activate our creativity, open our heart, and ignite our spirit. We think differently and thus we solve differently. 

And perhaps most importantly, orienting to higher purpose in the midst of an ordinary, busy day cultivates significance. It reminds us that our work matters; that we are building a cathedral; not just laying bricks. Orienting to higher purpose efficiently distills our work to what’s most important: Our 10X Impact.  

The four questions above can be a framework for you and your team when you’re creating strategy, solving problems, or vetting opportunities. Try them on and see what happens. And let us know! We’d love to hear what you experience.

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