June 10, 2004
News & Opinion: BOOK REVIEW: The Right Questions
On the surface of it, the premise of Fords newest book, The Right Questions: Ten Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life, seems almost absurdly simplistic. Ten questions, each of which has two possible answers, are supposed to provide you with the direction you need to create an extraordinary life.
On further examination, her ideas arent simplistic - theyre just simple. And simple, when it works, is powerful.
At the heart of the book lies the basic concept of choice. Our lives today are the products of the choices we made in the past. Our lives tomorrow will be the products of the choices we make today. And its by being fully aware of the impact of the choices we make from here on out that we can create the life we really want.
Ford strips away all the waffling and fluff that can go into making our decisions (and justifying those decisions to ourselves if theyre less than preferable), presenting our choices in an either-or light that focuses our attention on the real effect they have. Early in the book, Ford explains:
The quality of our lives is made up of the sum of our decisions. To make quality decisions, we need to see clearly. Asking either-or questions heightens our awareness and clarifies the results we expect from our actions. When you ask these questions in the decision-making process, you immediately see whether the choice you are about to make is an expression of your light or your darkness, whether the choice comes from your vision and dreams or from your fears and doubts.
In my work helping clients create passion-filled careers, I constantly see the power of simply being aware of the impact of the choices that we make. As obvious as it might seem, a big part of the challenge is developing that awareness to begin with. Thats what initially drew me to this book.
I often talk about the concept of traveling consciously through ones career. That is, being aware of the choices you make, why youre making them, and their consequences. So often, people are flying blind through their lives, seldom stopping to really look and understand both the short- and the long-term implications of their choices. This book offers people an easily applicable tool to help them travel consciously.
The questions, each of which has its own chapter, are:
* Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future, or will it keep me stuck in the past?
* Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment, or will it bring me short-term gratification?
* Am I standing in my power, or am I trying to please another?
* Am I looking for whats right, or am I looking for whats wrong?
* Will this choice add to my life force, or will it rob me of my energy?
* Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, or will I use it to beat myself up?
* Does this choice empower me, or does it disempower me?
* Is this an act of self-love, or is it an act of self-sabotage?
* Is this an act of faith, or is it an act of fear?
* Am I choosing from my divinity, or am I choosing from my humanity?
Reading this book, I found myself looking at the questions both through my own eyes and the eyes of my clients, past and present. Again and again, I could see the usefulness of the questions in creating clarity around choices. While each of the questions is valuable, different ones were more prominent for different people, depending on the challenges those people faced.
Some of the ideas that Ford looks at are a little on the spiritual side. If that doesnt jive with how you see the world, just skim over it. There is a lot here that you can apply to your experience, regardless of your outlook on life and the world around you.
Much of the value of the book could be condensed into a couple of pages. But thats what makes it work. Simple ideas, simple implementation, and potentially powerful results.
Ill be recommending The Right Questions to clients in the future.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.