Living the Question
Questions mull around in my mind all day long… from the moment I wake up and ask myself “what am I going to wear today?” to right before I succumb to sleep mulling over the day’s activities. My day often becomes a series of questions and answers. That is until recently when I am learning how to give myself permission to simply live with the question, no answer necessary.
What? No answer? Isn’t that why we ask the question? How will I know what to do without an answer? For most of us, the programming began early in life. “Johnny, answer the question. Mrs. Smith is speaking to you.” “Susie it is rude not to answer her. She is speaking to you.” “ I don’t know.” “What do you mean you don’t know? You better know!” And so we think quickly and answer, over time entraining our brain that every question requires an answer for it is in the answer that we know what action to take.
Yes and no. Yes, with some questions an instantaneous answer appears. “Do I turn right?” “Yes.” And I turn right. “Do you want to go out to dinner tonight?” “Yes.” And we go out to dinner (but don’t ask me to pick the place!). Question. Answer. Action. True, some questions take a little more thought. “What do I want to do today?” I mull it over, answer and act. “Where do you want to go on vacation?” “Ummm, good question. I am not sure.” So I mull it over, do a little research on the internet, answer and act. Not knowing where I want to go is unacceptable. I must answer the question; vacation time is fast approaching.
And then we have our professional roles, many of which consist of a constant barrage of questions and answers: patient after patient; customer after customer; child after child; call after call…. Question. Answer. Action. We all have numerous examples. An important and necessary part of our daily lives. And so is living the question, even suspending the need to answer “I don’t know” for that is an answer that results in a subsequently related action.
Living the question is the action. It requires skipping over the answer trusting and knowing that with time the answer will reveal itself. When we learn to live the question, we become more comfortable asking the harder questions, suspending judgment that we don’t know. We give ourselves the freedom to live in the space between knowing and not knowing; the freedom that brings with it both terror and exhilaration. If we believe we always have to have an answer, we diminish our creativity; we diminish our potential; we diminish the possibilities.
Yes and no. Yes for some questions, answering is the next and logical, even critical step that leads to action. And no, for some questions are meant to be lived knowing that in the living we will answer.
Questions are a necessary and vital part of our life. So are the answers. Questions are also an essential component of my chosen profession of coaching. A coach loves hearing the client respond, “good question.” And then we listen actively for the client’s “expected” answer. If it is not forthcoming, we rephrase the question, ask a different question, and sometimes sit with the question allowing the space and silence of time to reveal the answer. I value my coach for many reasons, and one in particular because she routinely asks good questions. The questions that inspire answers, and thus, inspire action. Like good coaches, good parents ask thought provoking, hard to answer questions. So do good friends and so do we of ourselves. Questions that we often feel like we ultimately need to answer, if not now, tomorrow, next week, sometime soon. Question. Answer. Action. A way of living that does provide satisfaction and happiness in life.
While I continue to hone my questioning skills, I am now honing my skill, my willingness to live the question. To let it be with me, with my client, with my friend, with my husband. As I am, I am learning the truth to what the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said in 1903,
...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can,
to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
As I ask the tough questions and live with them, I am finding that I can take the extra ordinary to a whole new level. And my clients are doing the same.
What question will you ask yourself and be okay without knowing the answer, allowing yourself to simply live the question?
How will living the question bring more extra ordinary into your life?
I encourage you to try it... live the question, and therein you will “live your way into the answer.”
About Extra Ordinary Living
Janet began her coaching journey in January of 2004, leaving behind a satisfying career as a healthcare executive. Working first under the company name, Tiberius Enterprises, in January of 2007, Janet adopted the company name, Extra Ordinary Living, symbolizing her desire to work with people who defy the law of average and want to live extraordinary lives, consistently adding the extra to the ordinary. Her by-line embracing sustainable change is reflective of two intentions. First is to have the changes a client makes have long term positive implications. Second is to live a life that respects the importance of sustaining our planet’s lives for generations to follow.
As an Executive Coach, Janet’s intention is to assist service professionals and organizations to maximize their return on human capital….managing human behaviors for optimal outcomes. Janet has repeatedly found that an individual’s professional and personal satisfaction and happiness is often limited by their very own “human capital.” She loves working with people to identify and own their natural tendencies, abilities and talents; to recognize their limitations, and apply all in creating the life they have historically only dreamed about. As a professional coach, Janet is trained to listen, to observe and to customize her approach to match her client’s needs. She provides tools, support, structure and accountability to help her clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.
Having a coach herself for over four years, Janet has found the best thing about coaching is that it is all about you, the client, and what you want. A coach may share her opinion, and give you advice; however, it is all up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. A coach suspends judgment, and supports you in your decisions.
With the coaching philosophy as her foundation, Janet is also an inspirational Professional Speaker. She has spoken at local, state and national conferences, providing the plenary session as well as more structured workshops. Her goal is to impart useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to assist her audiences in living extra ordinary lives. Janet always customizes her content to match her audience.
Interested in learning more? Please contact Janet by phone at 540-342-3040, email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website, www.4extraordinaryliving.com.
Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach
Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.
"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions."
– Edgar Cayce
"You don't want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colours from the same jewel."
Richard Bach, Running from Safety, 2000
"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."
– James Thurber
Sustainable Living Tip:
“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain, and the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.”
Oklahoma, my home place. Wheat, my grain of choice because I knew no different. I grew up watching the wheat wave as we traversed the plains between our home and my grandparents in western Kansas. I can still hear my grandmother exclaiming the beauty of the wheat fields or bemoaning that the wheat so desperately needs rain.
Nothing wrong with the good old grain of wheat. Nothing wrong and a lot of things right about the multiple other grains that now frequently stock our grocery shelves or fill the bins at the co-op. Grains that provide more protein, a variety of tastes, more cooking options, and for many what matters most, no gluten. Not to mention, they are relatively inexpensive. Many are perfect complements to the fresh vegetables adorning our local farmer’s market. I encourage you to tempt your taste buds with the culinary delights of quinoa, amaranth, pearled barley and their sister grains. For great cooking tips, check out the website.
EOL Upcoming Events:
Back by popular demand,
To YES Living Retreat!
When: 6:30 to 9:00 pm September 26, 2008
9:00 to 3:30 pm September 27, 2008
Where: The Tiberius House
1328 2nd St. SW
Roanoke VA 24016
What: Time of personal discovery to identify ways to have that YES feeling every day, several times a day. YES, the feeling that resonates from the tip of your toes to the top of your head, that causes you to pause and celebrate and then propels you forward.
Join us. Space is limited so reserve yours by emailing me, email@example.com
More information: www.2YESliving.com
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In the spirit of To YES living, Janet and Joanne will be hostess in g a monthly gathering of Living in the New Earth where we will explore how to apply the concepts in Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. If you live in the Roanoke area and want to join us, the details follow:
When: First Friday of every month. Next meeting is AUGUST 1, 2008.
Where: Daily Grind – West Village on 419
Cost: Free, unless you purchase a delicious lunch or cup of coffee
Come as often as you want.