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"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."  -Voltaire 

I’m part of a men’s group that ranges from guys in their twenties to guys in their 80’s. We officially call ourselves the BADASS team or, Brotherhood of Authentic Dudes Achieving Support & Success.  My mentor Steve Fox hosts it every month at the ”Fox Den”, in the lush, green hills below Mt. Tam. When I tell people I belong to a men’s group most people’s reaction is: “Wow, that’s cool!” or, “What do you guys do?”

I’ll usually tell them that we get together and share our successes, because by default most people usually share their problems. Or sometimes we’ll discuss books like The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz or The Superior Man by David Deida. Normally I don’t go into too much detail about the specifics of what we do, but I've been feeling inspired about an idea that is changing the course of my life and am going to share it with you...

"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers."  -Tony Robbins

Have you ever noticed that for certain people when faced with challenge, they give up, crumble under the pressure and it sometimes even destroys their lives? Yet for others it’s like rocket fuel and propels them to take massive action and do amazing things. What gave Gandhi the courage to help free India from British occupation? What fueled Thomas Edison through 10,000 failures before inventing the light bulb? What fueled athletic legends like Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth who failed many more times than they succeeded?

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

 For a long time I believed that people who succeeded in the face of failure and adversity possessed some kind of mystical self discipline and power that I wasn't born with. Though, as I continue to study great people and learn about the mind, I see patterns and formulas that very successful people share.

 

It’s April 2012, the BADASS team is sitting in a circle in Steve’s living room. I see the sun setting behind Mt. Tam through the large sliding glass windows that face the Mountain. Steve’s pink, two ton crystal in the backyard begins to glow in the darkness. It is a magical moment. “Your brain is like a computer that will answer any question you ask it," Steve says. I pry my attention back to the room and our discussion. I don’t yet fully realize the significance of what he’s saying. As he begins to break it down further and give some examples I start to understand…

Here’s the idea: Our brains don’t judge whether a question is good or bad, like a Google search it finds an answer to whatever questions are repeatedly asked.

“A genius is simply one who has taken full possession of his own mind 
and directed it toward objectives of his own choosing, without permitting outside influences 
to discourage or mislead him.”  -Napoleon Hill

How can I ask better questions? You might ask. Well let’s try a fun experiment. I want you to create a couple questions that pertain to something challenging in your life right now. Ask the first set of questions in an empowering way. Let your mind relax and see what shows up, don’t force it. Then I want you to ask the questions in a dis-empowering way. Again, let your mind relax and see what shows up. A couple examples could look like:

    Empowering: How is it that I’m able to handle ________ in my life so powerfully?

    Dis-empowering: Why is _________ bad thing in my life happening or why does it always happen to me?

Make up your own questions that are meaningful for you and notice what shows up.  When sh*! really hits the fan, here are some examples of power questions from Steve:

What is the gift in what is happening right now that I'm missing?
How can what is happening right now, serve me in opening to even more of my real, authentic self?
What would it take to change this?
What else is possible?
What's right about this that I'm not getting?
How can I take really great care of myself, my body, and the ones I love, right now, all at the same time?
What could shift to make way for an amazing outcome for me and everyone else?

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.”  -Leo Babauta

To end things I want to share one more idea from Steve:

“This may not be the lightest chapter of your life, but it is a chapter - you can't skip the chapter, but it will end - the chapter isn't the whole book. Also, in the ‘story of your life’ you are not just the main character. You're also the 'reader' and most importantly the 'author'.  How will you write the story? It can be a horror story, a love story, an adventure story, a comedy, a tragedy – you determine the flavor, the context, and the characterization of all of it, even when you don't feel like you are the author of the content. The content is co-authored with you by the Universe, but remember, it is a co-creation. The Universe has an infinite number of possibilities with no investment or judgment about how it can participate in the co-creation.

One of the best ways to assist with your part of the co-creation, is to keep 'being' with helpful questions rather than dis-empowering questions, like ‘should I give up?’ When you can, drop into your highest and deepest space where you're connected to source, and make a list of questions you will ask yourself several times a day."

Just as the quality of food & chocolate we put into our bodies will create our physical health, the quality of questions we ask ourselves and those around us will shape our mental health and determine our destiny.

Until Next Time!!

With Love,
Daniel

PS. Would love to hear if you found this helpful. Leave a comment below and let me know.

PPS. To learn even more about this check out Power Questions by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas. It’s an awesome book and gives tons of great power questions for every area of life. 

Written by Daniel Korson — December 13, 2012

Comments

Jessica:

Great post! I love this exercise of turning dis-empowering questions into empowering ones. Sometimes our minds can be so negative, but with a little gentle guidance, we can shift our thinking into a much more “friendly” space! This is definitely something that takes practice, but I find that the more you do it, the easier it gets.

December 28 2012 at 10:12 AM

Ann:

I, too, find this very helpful & useful. THANK YOU!!! I love the questions you posed as examples. Our minds are amazing, and I never thought of what you’re suggesting here: that asking the right question can open up new paths with different answers. Again — thank you.

February 11 2013 at 01:02 PM

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