Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life is a Conversation. Make it a Good One.

A few days ago there was an article in the Huffington Post that I loved so hard. It was about asking questions. (Told from a married-mom-of-three-young-children's point of view.) I LOVED what she said about, the "how was your day" question:

How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I'd explode. I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone. I was saturated -- just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby Iyearned to smell her sweet skin again. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband -- when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I'm not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don't try to FIX IT. I wouldn't have my day Any.Other.Way. I'm just saying -- it's a hell of a hard thing to explain -- an entire day with lots of babies.

But this article was about more than being an overwhelmed mom.
It was about asking the right questions. It was about demonstrating love and attentiveness by asking specific questions. 

If you want to have a good conversation, and you plan on starting that chat with a question, MAKE IT A THOUGHTFUL ONE. And then listen to the answer.

 "If we really care-- we need to ask better questions and then really listen to the answers. We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: "I'm not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you." If we don't want throwaway answers, we can't ask throwaway questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love."

Back in my Arrow days, I was immersed in a world that valued good questions. One of Arrow's trainers, Bobb Biehl, built a career around asking profound questions. At the last "Day With Arrow" seminar where he was our guest speaker, he 'collected' questions from audience participants. (Some people collect Beanie Babies, others Hummel figurines. He collected questions.) It was fascinating to hear men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, share their favourite questions with him.

Being a brilliant business man, he shares his top 100 questions in a small paperback book, available for sale on his website. I, of course, bought a couple because I do love me a good conversation and fully support the notion that great questions usually start deep discussions.

His book has 100 questions ...Ten questions to ask in each of the following situations:
1. ASKING … profound personal questions and avoiding “small talk”
2. BRAINSTORMING … your way out of a mental “rut” and maximizing your finest ideas
3. CAREER-ING … when you, or a friend, are considering a career change
4. DECIDING … when a risky, pressurized, costly decision needs to be made
5. INTERVIEWING … getting behind a person’s smile … and beyond her/his resume
6. FOCUSING … or re-focusing your life
7. ORGANIZING … your life to maximize your time
8. PARENTING … to raise healthy, balanced children
9. PLANNING… Masterplanning any organization or major project
10. SOLVING … any problem faster with a systematic problem-solving process.
(Haha. When I started this post, I didn't think I'd end up doing an infomercial for Bobb...)

Also from my Arrow days, I learned about the concept of Mentoring. (Which I am a huge, HUGE fan of.) And in order to deepen mentoring relationships, Arrow, (well, it used to be Carson. Now I guess it's Steve ...) sends out a free monthly email with a Mentoring Question in it. These questions are also posted on Arrow's website.
For those not skilled in the art of question-asking, Arrow provides the question to ask, along with an explanation for WHY you're asking the question, and suggests WHAT to listen for. So very helpful when you're new to the whole question-asking arena. 
A list of past Mentoring Questions can be found here. Some are real good. Way to go, Steve! I personally like "What is God's primary feeling toward you?" and "If the evil one were to target an area of you life to seek your downfall, what area do you think he would target?" 
If you'd like to receive a monthly question, you can sign up for that here.
(Lookit me go, endorsing things all over the place tonight...)
Anyway, I kinda loved that Huffington Post article alot. So. 
"Questions are like gifts -- it's the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS. We have to know the receiver to give the right gift and to ask the right question. Generic gifts and questions are all right, but personal gifts and questions feel better. Love is specific, I think. It's an art. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become."

So. I am going to start collecting questions. Good ones. And vowing to use them. Be prepared the next time I see you. I promise I will not ask you how your day was.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. The author of that Huffington Post, Glennon, She is a recovering bulimic, alcoholic, drug addict. Read about her here.
And watch her share her story on Ted Talks:

I think she's awesome. Inspiring. Wonderful.

(She references Brene' Brown and her talk on vulnerability. If you've got time, watch this):
Even if you don't have time, watch it.

2. I'm thankful for real-life heroes.
And I'm thankful for entertainment production companies that tell us those stories.

Pinchas Rosenbaum is the real life hero:

"Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum fought against great odds in one of Hungary’s most terrifying periods. During the Nazi occupation in 1944, he and a group of resistance fighters, managed to outsmart the German machine and save thousands of Jews from deportation and extermination in the camps."

And the production company? Liberty Studios. It's mission is to deliver inspirational true stories to a world wide audience.

And the movie? Walking with the Enemy:

3. I am thankful that Brenda posts about her journey most days. I am thankful that she is a woman of faith.

She is thankful today:

Today was my final radiation treatment, so I guess it's a graduation of sorts. My son Jason and friend Kelly accompanied me today. And we had a great day together. The hospital has a Starbucks inside, so after the treatment we sat and talked, long and deep, just the three of us. I loved that moment.This day has been filled with so many blessings and I find myself just wanting to 'park' there for awhile...
- I discovered that the flower urns on my front porch are now filled with colourful primulas instead of the dried Christmas decorations that were there yesterday
- my house got cleaned today
- an iPod filled with worship songs arrived today
- a couple of beautiful letters from longtime friends came in the mail
- the most amazing in-laws ever
- a CD filled with more worship songs
- my sweet husband who is so 'there' for me
- more treasures from God's word that are life-giving to me
- your prayers and encouragement which keep my focus right where it needs to be
This all adds up to a wonderful Radiation Graduation day for me! I couldn't be more grateful! I'll give more of a medical/prayer update tomorrow - just really wanted to focus on and celebrate the goodness of this day!

We are planning a day of fasting and prayer for her one day next week. Please join us if you are a praying person. Details to follow.


No comments: