Discussions:101,499. |. Messages:1,352,505. |. Members:85,225


Think your way to success: 8 questions that will help you make a difference at work

John Graham

There are plenty of people in the workforce that do “something,” but not so many who do what needs to (or should) be done. And this is both a problem and an opportunity.

Success depends on being among the few others count on to get the job done right—and that takes thinking. Here are questions that can serve as a guide to thinking your way to success:

  • “What if this isn’t what my client needs?” What if I’m trying to force it, attempting to make it work–and it isn’t? Most of us tend to push forward as fast as we can to come up with a solution. Kids often compete to be the first in the class to raise their hand when the teacher asks a question. And it’s often the wrong answer, but they do it again the next day. The goal is not to come up with any answer; it’s to come up with the right one. Slow down; it takes thought.
  • “What if I put it aside and revisit it tomorrow?” You need to respond to a client inquiry, but the clock is ticking, you’re having trouble figuring out the best response and you have other things that need to be done.

The goal is not to wrestle the task to the mat or do battle with it; it’s to do your best work. That might take “noodling,” putting it aside and let your brain work on it for a day or so. It’s amazing what happens when you let your brain work on it. A quick immediate response to let the client know you are seeking a solution may suffice until you can provide a well-thought-out solution.

  • “What if I asked them for their thoughts and ideas?” The heart of marketing and sales is problem solving. They also demand a “bring it on” attitude to be successful—and that can be a problem because it blocks other views and ideas. Asking what others think – like many Insurance Forums members do on this site every day – is an effective way to test your idea, plan, or confirm the appropriateness of your solution. It gives you something to think about.
  • “What if I offered several options instead of just one?” This may seem dangerous, but it’s as threatening as putting people in a “yes or no” position, and “no” is easier to say than “yes.” Offering several options creates a new dynamic where there’s room for give-and-take. It makes it possible to come to a positive decision.
  • “What if I tried something new?” It’s easy to get used to doing things a certain way and tune out anything that forces us to break existing patterns.

It’s effortless to stick with the same solutions, repeat the same concepts, fall back on the same products and services. If what we do today is a constant replay of the past, we contribute little or nothing to help meet the challenges affecting our clients, our company and our industry.

  • “What if I became a go-to person?” Intentionally staying “under the radar” helps you avoid getting noticed and causes less stress. It’s also a good way to be passed over or be added to the “no longer needed” list.

Anyone who wants to advance thinks differently. Getting known for innovative ideas, changing ways of doing things, or specialized expertise attracts attention and gets you noticed for your value. It’s how thinking different is a game changer.

  • “What if I asked more questions?” It’s irritating if someone asks too many questions in a meeting. They can drag things out. Socrates probably encountered that problem with his students. Even so, not asking questions is a huge mistake. Questions clarify issues and uncover valuable information, fill in the gaps, and help avoid making mistakes. Questions indicate you are engaged and thinking about solutions.
  • “What if I came up with an idea that helped make my company be more competitive?” It goes without saying that most of us are willing, even eager, to invest time and thought in figuring out ways to make ourselves look good, get attention, and advance our careers. Few would argue with such a strategy for getting ahead. If we do a better job, then we deserve to advance.

But, for some, that’s not enough. Their thinking is different. While they may work to advance themselves, they are also committed to finding ways to advance their employer. They’re alert for ways to make it more competitive, to give it an extra edge. In the end, ultimate success, depends on both.

If you’re satisfied with what you’re doing, that’s OK. If not, think about asking yourself the questions that let you think your way to success.


John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at [email protected], 617-774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.



Leave a Comment