Freedom From The Future

In Inquiry Method work we have often talked about and worked with letting go of the past and the liberation we experience when we learn how to do that.

We have also talked about and practiced freeing up our ego and how to lighten up on projecting and defending self-image.

We have also explored how to lose our drive and rediscover our flexibility and creativity.

I’ve been exploring a new frontier, letting go of the future.  Once I discovered it in myself I was shocked because it now seems so obvious, none of my future attachments, fears, ambitions were here now and none of the ones I have had in the past ever materialized the way I anticipated them good or bad.

Your future can be as much a trap as the past; in fact many people are more future oriented than past oriented.

For example, lets say you were interested in starting a business or growing your business; you might get attached to the future success of that business or project the future failure of that business, or both at the same time.  What does that do to your present expression and engagement, what does that do to your creativity and your objectivity…etc?

Try the same thing with meeting a new person and projecting the future of the relationship.

Take a look; what are your future attachments and how much do they take you out of the present?  See if you can discover in yourself the capacity to let go of the future.

You might say that I need the attachment to the future to be able to operate, but think about how you may have thought that same way about holding onto the past until you learned the skill of letting go. Remember how dramatically that affected your life?

 

 

Inquiry Leadership Practice: When a “Gift” isn’t a Gift

There is a useful business principal that can help clean up a lot of business issues, confusion and frustrations: Never give gifts with the expectation of getting something in return.

There is a common habit of giving people gifts or opportunities as a way of endearing those people to you or to get more out of them; to create appreciation or, in the extreme, obligation.  As leaders, we can often rationalize it as “generous”, “caring”, or even “loving”.  But, this way of motivating people or bonding people to you unfortunately often creates the opposite.

These types of gifts in business carry a hidden contract; “I have done for you, now you do for me”.  Employees will unconsciously assume that they are entitled to the “gift”.  Leaders can tell they have carried some hidden contract when they feel resentment toward employees.  This way of gifting in business will weaken great employees and amplify problems in others.

When you instead tie “gifts” to what has already been accomplished, we call them rewards.  Rewards are empowering.  Give rewards on what has happened, and don’t expect that they will get you anything more than you have already received.  Make the commitment in yourself that you will address whatever happens in the future with no inner or outer reference to what you have “given” in the past – that is water under the bridge.  This skillful application of rewards is a powerful business practice.

Keep your contracts overt and open with the people who work for you.  Business is not about appreciation, popularity, or buying good will. It’s just simple, clear understandings around performance and accountability.  The moment you feel resentment you can recognize that you have either given yourself away through some form of “gifting”, failed to create accountability, or have unclear agreements.  This is yours to clean up, not your employees.  This is what leaders do.

In every part of life “gifting” with expectations, is not gifting.  With friends and loved ones, the art of true gifting is one of the most beautiful practices we can develop and it is an art worthy of great masters.

Question and Answer: Change within a Relationship

You can’t change another person. That is one of the unfortunate, and yet universal truths. Sometimes, you can inspire another person to change. Being motivated is always impacted by the perception, “what’s in it for me?”.

On the other hand, there is one person who you are 100% empowered to change, and that’s you. In any relationship, whether it’s personal or in business, I like to tell people to take 100% responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for the business or 100% responsibility for the relationship. I am always looking to create a vision for a relationship that is inspired by the other person’s motivations or by adapting myself to what is or what’s true about the other person.

The most potent example of the first is a “want for us”. This is what I work with during a corporate or a relationship renewal. Whenever I’m in a primary romantic relationship with someone, I always like to whether it’s just for a vacation or long-term, come to a shared understanding of the “want for us”. Meaning, what is the want for us, what are we working towards together? When I can get clear about the “want for us” the relationship feels easy. When I can’t get clear about it, it feels hard or difficult. It’s even harder if we’re trying to achieve, experience, or do different things. In a case where we can’t come to a “want for us” or the other person is uninterested or unwilling to participate in a “want for us” in the way I want them to, the only other option is to accept them just the way they are.

That can sometimes be miraculous. Sometimes when I accept someone just the way they are, and get behind who they are, I find things open up and possibilities appear that never would have otherwise.

A relationship is always positive if we are oriented toward the want for us. Practice with your partner. When you wake up, before you go about your morning, discuss the “want for us” for the morning.

It could be, “Well I have a lot going on so let’s do our own thing and go our own way, but I want 5 minutes to have coffee with you and kiss you good-bye.”

The other person can say, “Actually there are some important things we need to get done. I would like help figuring out dinner so that I can go shopping for it and I’m also missing your attention. I’d like you to put your attention on me. I’d like for you to rub my neck and take some time for me.”

Then the other person may say, “I can get into that”, or not, but the goal is to get aligned.

So the want for us could be an overarching desire for your life together or it can be broken down into the want for the morning, the evening, or any of your time together.

Another example could be making decisions like buying a new refrigerator. Imagine this dialogue:

One person might say, “I want to buy the coolest refrigerator ever!”

And the other person might say, “I want to save some money. I’d like to spend under $300. I guess we better get aligned with what we are shooting for. Can we find a cool fridge for under $300?”

“Oh, I guess I hadn’t really thought about that. Are we running out of money?”

“Yeah, we don’t really have a lot of money this month, but we do need a fridge.”

“Oh, well maybe we could find a used one.”

Anytime we can get in alignment the smoother things will be. For example, you can decide on a “want for us” on vacation. If one person wants to relax and the other wants to go on adventures you should probably get clear on the “want for us”. Here is dialogue that could happen around that:

It can get really powerful when you go deeper, like, “I just really want this to amplify our connection to each other.”

The other person might say, “Oh I guess I hadn’t really even thought about that. I just thought we were going on vacation.”

“On the flight there let’s imagine different things we could do or different ways we could approach this trip so that it would amplify our connection to each other.”

Then, throughout the trip, when you go to do things, check in. “Should we go parasailing? Would that amplify our connection?”

“I guess not. It seems like the jungle hike would really achieve that.”

Anytime you can catalyze something around a “want for us” it’s really powerful. Anytime you step into any of these conversations it helps you clarify the relationship more and more.

The alternative to coming to a “want for us” is the choice to accept the other person the way they are.

Best Way to Ask for a Raise

In Inquiry Management, as an employee, we gain and can develop the skill of managing up.

Managing up means that through the process of inquiry up and passing problems up, we are able to develop our relationship and secure success within an organization. An example of this, I call, “the best way to ask for a raise.”

The best way to ask for a raise is: At your next review, one-on-one, or even a meeting that you arrange, ask the person who you report up to, what you would have to do to be worth X% more or X dollars more to the company 6 months from now or a year from now. And then listen carefully. Different responses are possible.

One response would be that there is nothing you can do to be worth more in 6 months or a year. That is great info to know. You’ll know there is no upward mobility and you can start accepting it and be happy with it, or you can start looking for a new job.

A second answer may be that you can get a raise if you are able to develop x skill, to learn to do spreadsheets, increase sales by x%, be able to demonstrate a certain capacity or attitude, or something else. With any of these responses, you would want to ask more and make it measurable so that it is something you could both agree on. The beauty of this system is that once they agree, you’ve already made the agreement for the raise. So you don’t have to worry about asking for it, you can just focus on doing what you need to do to get it.

If you are in a company that employs Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership then you can check in on your progress in your weekly meetings or one on ones. If you aren’t, maybe you can just check in on a monthly or weekly basis about how you are doing towards your goal and how they feel about your work. That way you keep focusing on and honoring the agreement you’ve made.

From a management point of view, I recommend doing this with the people who report to you. Make these kinds of agreements. That way, with raises, you are actually able to continue to develop and guide the development of your workforce. Make sure that you are actually incentivizing activities and goals that support and amplify the goals and success of the organization.


Want more like this? Check out our ECourse and EBook on Inquiry Management.

Boss versus Mentor

I was speaking to one of my business clients the other day (CEO of a company of about 70 people) regarding what qualities to hire for in an employee, and we came up with “the hunger to learn and grow.”

In Inquiry Leadership, we see ourselves not so much as a boss but a mentor, someone who wants to share his or her skills and knowledge. Personally, as a mentor and teacher, there is nothing I value more than someone who is hungry to learn and grow. It’s exciting to mentor that kind of person.

As a boss you just want someone to follow instructions, do what they are told.

As a mentor, you want more. You want someone who will bug you to learn more, who will come to you with questions, who will always try to perfect and refine their ability and results.

An employee who is hungry will help you grow as a leader.

As a boss you are using top-down energy; you have to keep asserting and directing.

As a mentor, you are being pushed along by the eagerness of your employees. You are sharing your skills, and they are valued, received, and put into action.

If you are getting ready to hire in your organization, find someone who is hungry and eager to learn. Test for it, ask questions to discover it, and select for it. There is no more valuable asset you can have in your business. Someday, they will have the potential to replace you so you can take yourself to the next level: they may allow you to retire and/or buy you out.

If you are not hiring right now, you should be. Always be looking for more able, eager, hungry people. They are the gold that will make for a great and thriving business.


Learn more about Inquiry Management and Leadership here

Addressing Conflict

We asked people on our facebook page what topic they would like to us to do a blog or talk on. We’re going to be answering another one today and look forward to doing more as we go forward.

We really appreciate being in conversation versus having the blogs be a unilateral conversation, so if you have a question you’d like to ask Kyle or a topic you’d like to see him do a blog or talk on, please send us an email or a message on Facebook.

The question we are going to answer today is: “How do you create a happy workplace when employees are in conflict”?

You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog.

The most challenging and, simultaneously, the most important thing is to actually address the conflict. In every conflict, there is a huge opportunity. And, this is where Inquiry Method comes in.

We often want to get into a mode of just telling people what to do or having people work it out, but the conflict is really an opportunity to bring something to the surface. This is true with every relationship, not just relationships at work.

The very best thing is to sit down with whoever is in conflict and start doing inquiry (I do this during a couple’s renewal or when I work with a team in an office).

Start with having each one of them talk to you. Ask them about the situation and have the desire to really understand it. Stay out of being a boss or pushing people around, and instead, just focus on really understanding. Try to really understand one person, while the other person listens. Then switch over to the other person and really try to understand them, while the other person listens.

If we keep in the process of understanding, we find we all want the same thing. Ultimately, we are all yearning for the same thing. Everybody wants to have a great business. Everybody wants to have fun at work. Everybody wants to get along. So, if we can talk to people and really understand them, especially in front of the person they are having the conflict with, it’s amazing how quickly people will come together.

In addition, any conflict is probably a reflection of something that is not functioning correctly in your business. So, it’s also really good information to get as the leader because the conflict may be about things you need to fix or repair in the business.

Let’s use these conflicts as opportunities.

I love this question. Thanks for asking it.

Love,
Kyle


If you are interested in finding out more about bringing Kyle in to help resolve conflict, email us at info@inquirymethod.com

Pushing Problems Up

As most of you know, I do business coaching as well as personal coaching. I want to shift to talking about business coaching today. This blog is based on a session I recently did with a corporate client. The company does construction work and I visited a satellite office to meet with their staff and introduce them to Inquiry Management and Leadership concepts. I did an overview before meeting with everyone individually, and I want to share a section I led about one of the principles we covered in the Inquiry Management section.

Inquiry Management

  1. A technique and practices for the operation of an organization and hierarchical relationships that amplify the growth and success of the individual toward shared goals and objectives.
  2. A way of organizing relationships within an organization around mentoring relationships rather than the traditional authoritarian boss/employee model.
  3. A commitment to creating accountability that requires leaders to be the most open, committed, engaged, members of the organization, who see their role as growing and inspiring people

A key principle of Inquiry Management is what I call “pushing problems up.”

You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog

Everyone argues with me about this at first. People say “That’s not the way it works. You don’t push problems up; you bring answers to your boss. You come with solutions. You think about it and then you handle it on your own.” But, it works.

When I first started working with this client, the CEO said: Every job has these problems that get buried in them. And, then they come out at the end and they cost us a quarter million dollars. We go from profitable to loss or break even. I just hate it when those things come up.

We’ve been working together for a while now, and we’ve made huge strides on this by building a culture of Inquiry Management that includes the principle of pushing problems up.

Because, IF you can push your problems up, you can get coaching on how to resolve it, you can solve the problem before it becomes a big problem, and the problem can be pushed up to the level at which it can be resolved.

For instance, let’s say I’m working on a building estimate. There is an engineer who doesn’t report to me but who I’m parallel to who I need information from in order to be able to do the estimate. I’m having trouble getting the data out of them. I keep asking them – “Can you get me the data?” I even use inquiry – “When could you get me the data?” And, they still aren’t doing it. They don’t answer to me so I’m powerless in the situation. And, if I keep trying to deal with it on my own, I may end up way behind, and then someone will be upset and frustrated with me.

But, if I go one step up to whoever I report to and say “I’m really having trouble finishing this estimate because I’m not getting what I need from engineering.” My boss may ask if I’ve tried this or that, but when I’ve shown I’ve gone thru the options, they’ll realize this is out of my hands and that they need to do something about it. And, if the engineer doesn’t report to them, they’ll have to have to raise it one more level up and talk to whoever they need to talk to so they can understand that it’s a priority to get you this information.

So, in this process, it gets pushed up to the level where it can be addressed. It might go all the way up; it might go all the way up to the President, or it might go all the way up to the CEO. Because, the problem may be highlighting that we need to hire more engineers, or we need another company to work with, or we need a budget change, or we need to delay the bid on this job.

The problems need to go up to the level where they happen, where they can be solved. And, if the problem goes all the way up then the solution doesn’t go just to you, the solution also gets distributed out to the whole organization.

So, we don’t want to be hesitant about pushing our problems up.

The difference is that if I’m struggling on a job and I’m getting farther and farther behind while I’m trying to handle it myself and then eventually it comes out that it’s a mess. That would be terrible and on me. But, if at the beginning, I just keep reporting up what is happening on the job and what I’m having trouble with, I can solve things before they’re bigger problems.

It also helps takes the pressure off: Let’s say I’m having trouble with the subcontractors and I report it to my boss, and my boss says they don’t know how to handle it either. Now, I’ve transferred the accountability from me to my boss. Because, if my boss can’t tell me how to handle it or fix it, it’s their problem. If they can tell me how to fix it, or can help me figure out how to fix it, it’s my problem. But as long as I can’t fix it (and this is the beauty of being in an organization with hierarchy) I can keep pushing my problems up until they teach me, show me how to solve it, or change the system itself.

Even with our personal struggles, we want to push problems up. It helps you build your skills and helps to get your mentor more invested in you.

For instance, if I report to you and you’re my mentor, and I say I’m having a hard time getting organized. You may have a solution for me to use to improve. So, if I push the problem up to you, it’s not that I’m bad. I am just showing you my weakness I want to fix. And, you’re my mentor, you’ve seen my weaknesses and you want to help me get better. And, as I bring you my problem, you become more invested in me. The more you help me, the more invested you become in me. You’ve put a lot in me, so you want to see me advance and you want to support me. That is part of management. We really have to use the people we report to as mentors and ask them to help us. We have to be willing to be vulnerable enough to share what we are really struggling with.


Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership, or email us at info@inquirymethod.com if you are interested in learning more about business coaching.

A Special Mountain Experience

There is an upcoming Mountain Experience in September, and for all of you that have had an interest in coming to the Mountain Experience, I truly recommend that you try to make it now. It is going to be a really special one, and it very may well be (at least for the time being) the last iteration of the Mountain Experience. Now I am sure that at some point there will be something similar that comes along on some level, but there is going to be a radical shift in Inquiry Method around how we deliver our teachings. And we have got some very exciting things up ahead.

But before that happens, I wanted to personally invite all of you to attend our last Mountain Experience. I hear people all the time that say, “You know, I’ve been thinking about coming to the Mountain Experience for 15 years or so,” or, “I really want this person I know to go the Mountain Experience.” So, if you have any of these feelings or thoughts this would be a great time to act on them, because pretty soon there will be entirely new experiences coming up.

I am very excited about what is on the horizon, and we are all very happy about it and I am sure you will all really enjoy what’s to come. However, there is also a sense of nostalgia and beauty surrounding the Mountain Experience and what has been. This last one is going to be really great, and there is going to be a lot of power and transformation taking place. So, I invite you personally to attend, and I invite you to let those people know who have always wanted to go to the Mountain Experience that the time is now! I hope to see you all there!

More details to come- keep your eye out for blogs and email updates from Inquiry Method!

Fundamentals of Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™

At its root, Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™ by extension, are the capacity to come to any conversation, challenge, or interaction with open curiosity and inquisitiveness rather than with answers, assumptions, and directives. In our culture, we are taught to have all the answers and that our intelligence is based on knowledge. For most of our education, we are given answers and required to memorize and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives. The problem with having the answers is that everyone stops growing and learning.

This is particularly true in relationships both personal and professional. We make assumptions and project ourselves into other people. We judge, gossip, assert, tell, and correct, instead of asking and inquiring. The process of telling others what to do shuts down communication and leads our relationships into stuck and frustrating situations.

If you want to create dynamic, alive, and vital relationships where accountability, productivity, and creativity are authentically embraced, then you have to be wiling to not know, willing to put your ego aside and let curiosity lead the way.

Inquiry Method provides processes, practices and inquiry lenses that break through the obstacles to growth and mastery level living. It provides the bold shift in perspective and the set of tools that are needed to master our own level of participation so that we can become inspirational leaders in every aspect of our lives.

Learn more through our Inquiry Management eCourse by Kyle Mercer from Inquiry Method™.  Kyle Mercer’s interactive eCourse includes video lectures featuring Kyle Mercer, 9 interactive comprehensive units, and an individual, private workbook designed to guide you towards creating an environment of growth and accountability in your organization.

Please click HERE to learn more.

Levels of Participation

Levels of Participation is one of the principles that I discovered in my work developing Inquiry Method. In the years I have been teaching it, it has become a mainstay of what I call Inquiry Management. The Levels of Participation are a framework for understanding how people work together; they explain how people behave in relationships, the context that they participate in, and the leadership they receive. By understanding this framework we can have an impact on our own success and growth, we can influence the success and growth of our organization and we can learn to lead and be led to greater success, and ultimately satisfaction, engagement and happiness in our work.

Inquiry Method™ is the foundation on which I have built all that I have learned and discovered. I have found that it is also something that can be learned by others to have a profound impact on their ability to lead and mentor others. At the root Inquiry Method™ is simply the capacity to come to any conversation or inner challenge with openness, curiosity, and questions rather than answers. Though this may seem simple and easy, I have found that it is much more difficult that one might think. Particularly in business, but also elsewhere, we are taught to have the answers. In fact for most of our education we were given answers and required to memorize them and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives.

The problem is that in having the answers we stop learning and growing.

Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Levels of Participation, Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership.