Review, Reflect and Refine

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Review, Reflect and Refine


Asking the right questions

Managing performance well is dependent on being astute and aware enough to ask the right questions. In his book Triggers, Marshall Goldsmith gives a great example of how changing the question can motivate performance change. Goldsmith is aware that he needs to be held to account for the targets he has set for himself. He started by reviewing his own performance in a set of Daily Questions, but that was too easy to justify to himself. So, he employed someone to call him every evening and ask him questions such as:

  • How happy was I today?
  • How meaningful was my day?
  • How much do I weigh?
  • How much sleep did I get?
  • Did I say or do something nice for Lydia? (his wife)

However, he realised that these questions were phrased poorly and too passively. They didn’t trigger extraordinary effort out of him because they were not inspiring or motivational. Consequently, poor results were typically blamed on his environment. By making a small change to the wording, by adding “did I do my best” added the element of trying into the equation. The active questioning elicited a different level of engagement with his goals as he could no longer give a binary answer.

To add a further level of meaning, to assess whether he was trending positively and making progress, he measured on a relative scale, comparing today’s effort with previous days on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the best score. For example, previously he could answer a number of hours of sleep and blame it on external factors if the number was low, but with the new approach he had to assess whether he did everything he should have to set up the right environment, such as – relax before going to bed, removing electronic devices and going to bed on time to get the best night’s sleep. Asking the question, “Did I do my best..?” makes us confront the questions we try so hard to avoid: am I taking responsibility for managing my environment and improving?

Whatever method of assessment that you use, it needs to be a discipline and have a structure around it, or else your environment will “punch you in the face” and be a barrier to making your Personal Strategy happen.

  • Is your plan realistic and, at the same time, challenging?
  • Is it authentic, and does it make sense?
  • What might obstruct your progress?
  • What system are you putting in place to change your habits and behaviours? 
  • Are you asking yourself the right questions?
  • How are you measuring your success – by your own standards and expectations, or by those of others?

Update your 3-6-9-12 Month Plan with your commitments and actions.