How To Stop “Living In Your Own Head”

“You’re Asking The Wrong Questions”

That’s what my coach said to me on our monthly call. It was summer of 2008 and we were in the embryonic stages of launching Bigcommerce.

At the time I was working 6 days a week, 14 hours a day. I was overweight, burned out, miserable and had a business growing more than 100% every year, completely bootstrapped from a small office above a cell phone store in Rozelle, Sydney.

I had purposefully decided to sacrifice every other area of my life to dedicate all of my waking hours to the business.

As we continued talking, she explained that the quality of your questions ultimately determines the quality of your life. She was a master coach who reported directly to Tony Robbins, so naturally she was teaching me one of Tony’s core philosophies.

She also explained how most people ask themselves poor questions that aren’t empowering — they ask questions in a way that implies failure is the default outcome, instead of success.

Here’s a good example; instead of asking “how can I grow my business faster?”, most people ask themselves “why is my business growing so slowly?”. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy most of the time.

Instead of asking “how can I improve my abilities as a leader?” most people ask “why did I hire people who hate working with me?”.

The QUALITY of the questions we ask ourselves, the WAY we ask those questions and the DEFAULT RESULT we already have in our subconscious minds determine where we end up more than anything —even more than hard work, luck and persistence.

This is a powerful lesson I’ve come to realize over the last 10 years.

After that initial call, I knew I was indeed asking myself questions that assumed failure was the default course. I started to work on my inner dialog and shifted from pessimistic questions to optimistic questions over the next year or so and my life totally changed.

Instead of asking myself “why am I overweight?” I started to ask “How can I keep growing the business while making time every day to take care of myself?”.

That one simple questions led me to schedule an hour each morning to workout before leaving for the office. That’s all it took to start making incremental progress. That year I lost over 30 pounds.

Instead of asking “why do we keep bombing at sales?” I started to ask “How can we find a great sales leader to help us implement a successful sales strategy?”.

Soon after, we hired a sales leader and the business started to zoom even faster with less effort and fewer mistakes.

If you can start asking more empowering questions that focus on opportunities and solutions not problems and excuses, you’ll start to turn things around quite quickly.

The next time you ask yourself a question, really listen to what you’re asking. Are you asking an empowering question that helps you focus on a solution to a problem, or are you asking a question that already assumes you’re going to fail?

Change the quality of the questions you ask yourself and everything else will change — quite quickly and for the better.

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About Mitchell Harper

Mitch is a 7x company founder, advisor and investor. He is best known as the co-founder of BigCommerce. His companies have generated over $200,000,000 in total revenue and he is currently building an online education company and a SaaS company.

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