The Most Important Question

Whether you’re talking about personal or business goals, you may be running into problems getting from A to Z. You may be jumping from one method to another; trying the latest techniques; or changing up your approach, with little or no results.

More often than not, these novel approaches end up being nothing more than interesting diversions. Not that there’s anything wrong with trying something new when obviously the old way wasn’t working… however, the “approach behind the approach” may be flawed.

You may not be asking the right questions.

Question #1: “How can I help you?” In business, being 100% committed to the success of your clients or customers is essential. That means, focusing on how you can help them and not giving one moment of thought about how they can help you. Even if you can’t solve their problem. This can be hard, if your focus is what the customer brings to your business. If your product or service doesn’t meet their needs, do you try the blunt object approach and do your best to convince them that even though you can’t offer the ideal solution, it’s close enough and they should jump on board before the offer expires? Or… do you point them in the right direction (which may be a competitor’s offering)? Do you give up trying for the sale and focus instead on the experience the person is having, on their well-being, their satisfaction with the service you are giving them by explaining the situation, and building a relationship of trust (that will often lead to referrals)?

The same question applies to your personal goals. Ultimately, you need other people to support you and make your goals possible. So what can you do for them? How can you improve their lives? You know what you’re good at. Share your talents for the betterment of others.

Like Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

In other words, give more attention to what you can do for others than on what they can do for you… and you will succeed.

Question #2 isn’t really a question, it’s a call to action. Getting results means getting people to take action. Like Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” Getting a customer to pull the trigger can be a business owner’s worst nightmare. It’s all in how you ask, and whether you even ask! (You’d be surprised at how often people are too afraid to ask, even in business!) And again, this second question can be applied to your personal goals.

What ONE action do you want them to take? Do you want them to say “yes” to being on your email list? Ask them to subscribe! Do you want your customers to keep browsing your site or do you want them to purchase? Be direct! Ask for the sale!

In personal goals… the same “one action” applies. Do you want the company you’re interviewing with to hire you? Ask for the job – don’t say, “I hope to hear from you”! Do you want a raise? Ask for an immediate performance review! Do you need to juggle work, kids and training runs? Ask a friend for two hours of babysitting!

So take a look at one of your goals and write down one specific action that would help you move toward that goal. Then, whether you’re asking your customers or the people who will help you achieve a personal goal, ask for that one action. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s that simple. And remember, in all of these scenarios, your primary focus should be on what you can do for them: showcase your abilities and enthusiasm to your prospective employer; demonstrate your contributions to your boss; offer to watch your friends’ kids.

Give, in order to receive – and know that you often have to ask, in order to receive!

Combine the two – “How can I help you?” with a call to action, and you have a winning combination that will result in success!


Inspired by Brad Isaac’s post on

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