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Asking the Right Question
By Dan Vis
April 30, 2017
Comments: 38

This week, I've been reading an interesting book entitled "Start With Why". And it has really resonated with me, especially given our upcoming Life Focus challenge. While the book is largely geared towards the business world, the principles apply to time management exceptionally well.

The author's main argument is that the key to real leadership is learning to ask the right question.

Here's what he calls the golden circle. Most people tend to go from the outside in. But transformational leaders, he says, think from the inside out.

golden-circle.jpg

Take the average person. He's busy thinking first about all the things he has to do (what). And it's a never-ending race to try and get it all done! If he does catch up on occasion, and get a few spare moments--he may use it to explore ways to get things done more efficiently (how). Maybe there's some tool, or shortcut that can help. But rarely, according to the author, do people go on to step three, which is asking whether or not these tasks should even be done at all (why). And yet this is the most important question of them all!

Leaders, in contrast, approach things from the exact opposite perspective. Their first question is always why. What's our mission, our purpose? What drives and compels us? What is it we really want to accomplish. From there, we begin asking how. What will it take to get there? What are the guiding principles, the strategy, the plan. And only when those things have come into focus, do we ask what, and start listing the tasks we need to complete.

The first approach, keeps us busy. And while we may look productive--without a clear goal, there's no real way to measure effectiveness. And without a sense of purpose, we can be left feeling spent, empty, and unfulfilled.

The second approach starts with a specific, deeply valued and deeply important aim. We develop a strategy carefully designed to accomplish that aim, and choose tasks that align with the strategy. Each task has meaning because we see exactly how it contributes to our goal. Our life becomes purposeful, because we know exactly where we are heading, and what we intend to accomplish.

“Time management starts with asking the right question!”

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In my experience, people don't often ask those deeper questions. And those who do, are rarely understood by those watching from the outside--at least not until they have accomplished something spectacular. But it is the calling of every believer to live a life that is filled with meaning and purpose. It was never God's plan for our lives to be mundane and pointless. To escape the one and enter into the other, we must learn to ask the right questions.

On May 1, we open a new FREE challenge called the Life Focus System. In it you will learn how to start making this shift, through powerful biblical keys to time management drawn straight from the Bible. If you are looking for more meaning in life, sign up today!

Comments

How does your thinking generally work? Do you think from the outside in, or from the inside out? How important is it to ask the bigger questions? What impact might it have on a person's life, to consistently "start with why"?

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/08/17
Thanks Liza! Glad you are finding our ministry helpful! :)
Posted by Liza W on 05/08/17
That's good Dan, I signed up just yesterday. I am appreciating again the practical tools of this ministry, turning into such a great blessing. May God continue to bless FAST.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/07/17
Don't know if you did the Life Focus challenge, Liza, but that's exactly what we've been focusing on! If you haven't signed up, you might enjoy doing that...
Posted by Liza W on 05/07/17
I always ask why about things and then get focused on the small things, the how. I like the idea of making long term planning part of my devotion time, thinking about how to put that in place. Also sometimes others don't understand my 'why' and do their own thing which can be disheartening and make me focus on the wrong thing. So it's a challenge but helps me grow at the same time trusting God to give wisdom about what's important and how to eliminate the unnecessary trivial things.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/02/17
Appreciate the enthusiasm for a longer class. Let's try to get through this one first!!!
Posted by Qing Ling on 05/02/17
Dan that word consistency...it's vital to our Journey isn't it?:) something I need to work on. Ongoing FAST classes has helped. Education is a lifelong activity.
Linda your comment with Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. just clicked for me ..a new perspective on the verse. What we start with determines our ending too....like what we sow is what we reap...:)
Pam yes, that verse has always been a principle for me; it's not just about one context, but rather applicable as a law in life. It shows how a single one can be powerfully influential. Like the disciples turning the world upside down. And laser focus determines how successful we will be in achieving OUR goal, instead of giving others permission to mould the direction of our lives for us.
Posted by Carol Putman on 05/02/17
I can't wait to get started on the class and yes, add my vote for a longer class.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/02/17
Thanks Debbie! We're up to four votes then! :)
Posted by Debbie Jones on 05/02/17
Dan, since God gave me 2 hands, I'll give the third and fourth vote for a longer time management class. 😆
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/02/17

Praise the Lord this article was a blessing for you, Joan. Others may not understand the change when we start asking why first, and may even oppose us, but it's the only way to have clear direction. And you are definitely right--God has a purpose for you life!

I see your vote Linda! That makes 2 so far. :)

Posted by Joan Robinson on 05/02/17
Dear Dan the Monday Memo article is quite timely for me.
After reading the article and understanding the title of "Asking the Right Question" I now feel confident how to go about saying "no" to requests without guilty feeling. A struggle I have been dealing with all my life and in particular, I often ask questions that is often misunderstood. Now I know God wants me to use the time He has given me to ask deep soul searching questions and to live and share a purposeful life. Thank you, through God I have grateful for this opportunity of joining the Life Focus course.    
Posted by Linda Elliott on 05/02/17
Yes, Dan , a longer class would be good. It is worthy of our time spent.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/02/17
Ok, great Pam. One vote for a longer class. :)
Posted by Pamela Kendall on 05/02/17

Qing I found your application of Galatians 5:9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. very interesting. I usually think of the leaven as something bad - like "a bad apple spoils the whole bunch". But it is also true that a seed of truth can transform the life, and one right question can make a transformational difference!

Dan I would love to see a longer course on Time Management as you mentioned above... this is something I really want to learn more about. So thankful for this challenge and looking forward to what I will learn!

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/02/17

Great to see so much enthusiasm for the Life Focus challenge. We're nearly up to 200 people and we've barely been open one day. Exciting!

I think there is a lot of demand for this course. Maybe someday we can put together a longer course that answers even more questions...

Qing, interesting application of that verse. getting down to the "why" of life can definitely shift the direction of things. It also create a consistency in direction.

The answers I came up with many years ago about the purpose of my life not only set me on a path to eventually build a ministry like FAST, it has kept me on that path my whole Christian life. Because answers to the deepest issues of life, don't really change.

In fact, I just want even more of that leaven in my lump. That is, more focus...

Posted by Maxine Jones on 05/01/17
Many times I asked my self the question why are you doing this?I would then answer because you are a child of God and then I would go off to do it without a murmur. However, I did not realise the significance of it as explained above. I am excited about this class, I am currently working on a training programme called working from the inside out. Working from a Godly perspectives is of vital importance for us as Christians.
Posted by Renis Onguka on 05/01/17
looking forward to learn new things
Posted by Qing Ling on 05/01/17
Galatians 5:9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. ..a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
It's crazy how a little question, if asked correctly, can make such a big difference in something as big as the direction of our entire lives.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 05/01/17

I do not ask "why", as I should be doing.
Getting the priorities in line, can be challenging.
I do know, my prayer time, and study is number one. After that, things can
go any direction.
This will be a good class to keep important that which is important.

Carole

Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 05/01/17
I agree Dan, that our why reason for what we do needs to be rooted in our relationship with Jesus. We are all called to be his witnesses and how we do that will manifest itself in various ways. I am adjusting to retirement and have more "free" time on my hands. It seems that some days it is an all day devotional day. That is ok once in a while. I don't want to waste my time or Rather God's time.
Posted by Konni Plue on 05/01/17
The BUSY acronym gave me a start. Thank you for all the sharing. I am looking forward to the Life Focus System Challenge.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/01/17

Glad to see you will be joining us Leslie for the Life Focus challenge. Can't wait for it to get going...

Christine, I got a chuckle when I read "My day seems to go fine until after breakfast". Life can be that way sometimes, can't it?

Posted by Becky Rich on 05/01/17
I find it interesting to remember back to when my children were young. "WHY?" was often the most used question they had. Hmmm...."a little child shall lead them" (lovingly and loosely translated from Isaiah 11:6The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.). :)
Posted by Rebecca on 05/01/17
Asking why and then making changes that fit can be hard. You may end up going against the grain, and not being understood by others. You have to be really strong in your purpose and goals, otherwise it's really easy to get derailed by what other's think and expect from you.
Posted by Christine Godfrey on 05/01/17
A great stack of comments above. Wow I've not heard that acromyn BUSY, couldn't be more true. My day seems to go fine until after breakfast when everyone else is awake and so many one off situations get thrown at me. "Time management starts with asking the right question." That's obviously my first problem, so looking forward to getting into the why mode. I often say to get the right answer you have to ask the right question, (especially in the world of technology) and sometimes I find it hard to know the right question when I need help in that field. So yes, the right question would be the best place to start. Debbie I really like your question. Whose am I, that is such an important question too, especially in relation to BUSY. Thanks everyone for your comments.
Posted by Leslie Caza on 05/01/17
Thinking? What's that? Obviously I run from one wanna-do to another and then when I have time I get to the pile of things that accumulate. I love the "Why?". That is simple and profound. That would put an end to checking Facebook 6 times a day! I don't look at many posts but that's not the issue; it eats up time and keeps me from getting in the zone in my thinking. I am looking forward to the class and hope to spend my day asking "Why?"
Posted by Linda Elliott on 05/01/17
Great example, Pam . Thank you!
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/01/17
You are right Pam! There are good principles being taught out there, but they often miss the spiritual perspective. The Life Focus System actually starts with the spiritual perspective and works back. We can only cover a certain amount in six days, but I believe it will be enough to lay a good foundation. Looking forward to us all learning and growing together!
Posted by Colette Guthrie on 05/01/17
Outside in ... which at times makes completing a timesheet every two weeks quite a chore.
Posted by Linda Elliott on 05/01/17
Dan that is a great acronym & so true. I've heard it before, but I appreciate the reminder! Thank you.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/01/17

Great comment Linda! That's exactly what we are going to focus on in the Life Focus challenge.

Have you every heard this acronym: BUSY = Being Under Satan's Yoke...

Posted by Pamela Kendall on 05/01/17
This is an important concept. I have struggled to know my purpose/goal in life and often feel that when I have free time I just waste it (and that makes me disgusted with myself). I do think more about what I should be doing than why generally. Starting with "Why" is a good place to begin learning how to live a life filled with meaning and purpose - and when combined with Prayer can lead to the discovery of God's individual purpose for me - and that will lead to a much more fulfilling life. I'm looking forward to the Life Focus System! I'm so glad it is from a Christ centered, Bible centered perspective. So much of the "success" literature out there is from a worldly perspective so one has to be careful to weed out the unbiblical philosophies that are woven into the information presented. Thank you for providing this resource!
Posted by Linda Elliott on 05/01/17
I, too, often look at what I need to do first, rather than the why. It's easy to look at the list of tasks & think they are all important. I think that is one of Satan's greatest ploys - keeping us too busy doing seemingly important things so we don't have time for what is truly important. Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. tells us a better way. I've found that if I don't seek God first, I won't get to Him at the last, either! I don't want to waste my day on "mundane & pointless" activity!
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/01/17

We all do use a mixture, Ann, don't we? In talking about the "why" question, the author is not really just taking about cause effect kinds of things (as important as they are) but rather about what drives us, what our mission and purpose are, what it is we really want to accomplish.

I would add, it involves discerning our own unique personal calling from God. If we don't have that clear in our mind, it is difficult to build a life fully harnessed to accomplish that calling. So important...

Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 05/01/17
in certain things I think Why, like why do I or someone else have this health issue. In other things I think I have to do this first to get it out of the way so I can do that but I definitely am deficient in my goals in other areas.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/01/17
Indeed, that is a great question too Debbie! Every Christian should make that an important factor when examining the purpose and direction of their life.
Posted by Debbie Jones on 05/01/17
I've definitely been using the first approach of outside in. The second approach makes much more sense and I am looking forward to learning why and how to better manage the time God has given me. It seems to me that another important question to keep in mind is, Whose (am I)? That will help drive my planning.

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