If you’ve spent any amount of time with Mike, you know that he’s good at asking questions. He has a way of making you feel like your thoughts and words matter- even if he is meeting you for the first time. It’s not just a play on words or a façade he puts on; rather, he truly believes that he can learn something from every person he converses with. If you are subscribed to the daily Moments with Mike emails, you’ve seen Mike talk about putting a “10” on everyone’s forehead. That plays out in every conversation- listening to understand, not listening to respond.
I think there is a lot to learn from this. When meeting someone for the first time, what kind of conversations transpire? It probably varies from person to person, but if you marked each interaction with intentionality, I bet fewer opportunities would slip through the cracks.
Mike has developed four questions that he keeps tucked away in his mind for whenever he might meet someone new:
· Who do you know that I should know?
· What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
· What are you learning now?
· How has failure shaped your life?
These four questions completely bypass the surface level conversations that are fairly typical when first getting to know someone. I mean, talk about cutting to the chase… The way I see it, time – that is, life – is too valuable to dance around lightly. People are valuable, and it is important for you to be intentional with them in each conversation.
This isn’t the norm though. If we are honest, the world is a pretty shallow place and words are often exchanged without anything really being said. It can be uncomfortable to ask these pointed questions because it will automatically create a vulnerability that is habitually shied away from. As I read through these four questions above, each would require some transparency if I truly answered them.
Who do I know that you should know? Two people come to mind. First, is my grandpa, Jim Tremaine. He has never met a stranger and he brings absolute joy everywhere he goes. I’ve never seen someone light up a room like he does. Secondly, there is my mentor, Lisa Hellier. She is so wise, and every time she speaks, I start taking notes because I don’t want to miss any of the gold she is sharing.
What is the greatest lesson I have ever learned? Misery is a faithful companion to those who refuse a life of intentional accountability. When I was at my darkest, I was doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I didn’t let anyone stand in my way. That wasn’t empowering. It was miserable. It broke me. I have found accountability to be crucial to my growth and even my happiness. Accountability might be uncomfortable, but it is a preventative measure from the misery that is sure to follow someone who tries to do life on their own.
What am I learning now? I’m learning that I’m a lot more capable than I ever realized. I am doing a job that I never envisioned myself doing (Yes, I’m the behind-the-scenes person in Leadershift!) and it is so much fun! I’m learning all about marketing, social media management, and web design. I also get to use my blessed Chick-Fil-A customer service experience in a whole new setting. So, I guess I’m learning that there is a lot more potential in me than I ever realized, and as Mike has taught me, I should never put a lid on that potential.
Lastly… How has failure shaped my life? In my misery that I mentioned in the second question, failure was all around me. I believe I had to fail doing life my way before I would be ready to surrender my plans to God, trusting Him and those around me. Failure taught me how to ask for help. As I was coming out of my darkest moments, I knew that the only way to make it was to actually listen to the advice people were giving me and to ask for help when I needed it. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for failure, because I would still be chasing after chaos and excitement, rose colored glasses forever tainting my vision of true fulfillment.
So, four questions later and we’ve gone pretty deep. Imagine the type of relationships that could be forged when you ask intentional questions like these. I’d encourage you to ask those questions of yourself first. Once you realize just how deep these questions dig, a healthy curiosity will plague you. Evaluate the conversations you’ve had with people in the past week or even the past day. How many of those conversations carried significant and lasting meaning?
It’s easy to place the responsibility on the other party, thinking, “If they desire something beyond surface level, let them take the first step.” Just remember that if you are a leader or you have the desire to be a leader, it often requires you to take the first step. You can’t wait for others to give you the “okay.” Sometimes you have to be the one giving everyone else the “okay.” Take a step outside of your comfort zone and ask those questions of someone today. You never know what you might learn.
So here’s to growth. Our growth.