Let’s Get It Straight This Year


Select a challenge you care deeply about. Perhaps you’ve suffered a setback, or you have an indistinct sense of an intriguing opportunity. How do you know it’s a problem ripe for a breakthrough, given the right unlocking question? It’s probably a good candidate if it “makes your heart beat fast,” as Intuit CEO Brad Smith put it.

Next, invite a small group to help you consider that challenge from fresh angles. Bringing others into the process provides a wider knowledge base and helps maintain a constructive mindset. Include two or three people who are starkly different from you in terms of their “insider” understanding of the problem and general worldview. They may well generate compelling questions that you would not because they have no investment in the status quo.

With your partners assembled, give yourself just two minutes to lay out the problem. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of engaging willing helpers, it would be a pity to pollute their minds with your preconceptions before you’ve gained any benefit from their thinking.

A scientific study showed that just holding a hot drink made people more likely to rate others as

Before launching into question generation, clearly spell out two critical rules of engagement. First, ask people to contribute only questions. Explain that those who try to suggest solutions will be redirected. Second, explain that no preambles are allowed. Explanations and details, short or long, mainly guide people to see the problem in a certain way – the very thing you’re trying to avoid.

Now, do a quick emotion check. Are your feelings about the challenge positive, neutral, or negative? Jot down your baseline mood. You’ll do it again after the session is over.


Set a timer and spend the four minutes collectively brainstorming surprising and provocative questions about the challenge. No pushback is allowed on others’ contributions. Capture every question verbatim and ask your partners to keep you honest on this; otherwise, you might unconsciously censor something you don’t want to hear. As you’re writing, add your own questions to the mix.

Once the timer goes off, do another quick emotion check. Are you more positive about the challenge than before? If not, try rerunning the exercise. Or try again tomorrow. Or try it with different people. Remember that this exercise not only sparks valuable new questions but also provides a positive emotion boost 85% of the time, making it more likely that you will make progress.


On your own, study the questions you jotted down. Select a few that intrigue you and strike you as different from how you’ve been going about things. A few criteria can help as you consider each question: Is it one you have not asked or been asked before? Is it one for which you honestly don’t have a good answer? Is it one that evokes an emotional response, positive or negative? In other words, subject the questions to a surprise test, an honesty test, and a gut-check test.

Finally, commit to the quest – the pursuit of at least one new pathway you’ve glimpsed – and do so as a truth seeker. Set aside considerations of what might be more comfortable to conclude or easier to implement, and instead focus on what it will take to get the problem solved. Devise a near-term action plan: What concrete actions will you personally take in the next three weeks to find potential solutions suggested by your new questions?

That’s how the Question Burst works. The exercise helps people gain energy, reframe problems and uncover new solutions to achieve powerful, positive results more than 80% of the time – because it consistently creates the special conditions where catalytic questions can thrive. And that makes all the difference.

Source: tonyrobbins.com

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