The Most Important Quality in an Employee (boss vs mentor)

I was speaking to one of my business clients the other day (CEO of a company of about 70 people) in regard to 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 her or his 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 gets me excited.

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

As a mentor you want someone who is bugging you to learn more, who comes to you with questions, who is always trying 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 and received, 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, 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 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.

Our Basic Job

It is the basic job of every human being to become more conscious. Our unconscious behaviors lead to harm to others and ourselves.

The second basic job of every human being is to evolve our perception of our self-interest, gradually realizing that it includes the well being of the people around us in an ever-widening circle.

The third job is to act on this awareness.

Problems and Possibilities

Some of my favorite coaching calls start out with the client saying, “I don’t have anything to talk about this week,” and I always say, “Great!” This is because the Inquiry Method works just as well in times of no problems as it does in times of emotional conflict.

With the Inquiry Method we are often looking at problems: “This is bothering me,” or “What should I do when this happens . . ..” Dysfunction and inner conflict brings our attention to something. It is, in fact, what the emotions are for. Inquiry method is a useful tool because most of us have not been taught what to do when the emotions show up.

On the other hand, when we are not having a problem, we often feel that there is nothing to do, but this also is a perfect moment for Inquiry. It is moment full of possibilities.

Inquiry Method is just as useful for looking at what is next, what we would like to create or draw into our lives. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and it’s true. If we only look at our lives when we are in pain, we limit ourselves to simply reacting to life. If we want to bring in something new, we must dream it in.

We often wholly ignore the power of intention and the action of imagining how we want our lives to be. Getting specific about what we want and then forming intention creates that outcome. Is that not worth giving our attention to?

This is why we coach. This is why we expose ourselves to new ideas, read books, attend workshops and seminars. We are intending positive changes in our lives.

When do you take the time and get the support to identify your deepest desires? When do you take the time to form the intentions and get the skills to manifest them?

Inquiry into creating the world you want is pivotal in making things happen, it is critical in your work, with your team, in your family, and most importantly in yourself.

The Line

In many businesses and professional offices there is a division of some kind.  In a medical or dental office it can be between back (treatment) and front (administration).  In a business between production and sales, or engineering and production, or…  Where is the division in your workplace?

These divisions create conflict.

If you look historically most wars and conflicts between nations occur at physical borders or where people perceive differences between different kinds of people or beliefs.

Conflict and division of this sort does not support Inquiry Management or upward moving energy.  In fact it disrupts it and requires the attention of top down management as long as it persists.

One goal of Inquiry Management is to unify an organization under a common “want for us”.  To accomplish this the perception of divisions must be reduced or eliminated.

Some strategies for overcoming divisions are:

  • Cross training
  • Developing a group identity
  • Eliminating physical boundaries and barriers
  • Corporate Renewals
  • Inquiry Management and Leadership styles and techniques
  • Resolving competitiveness in leadership positions
  • Shared values and objectives
  • Shared incentive and profit sharing programs, including “random bonusing”
  • Shared understanding of the whole business process from beginning to end
  • Corporate transparency
  • Using Inquiry Method™ to resolve interpersonal and inter departmental conflict
  • Top leadership valuing corporate unity

What is one thing you could do this week to reduce division or conflict in your organization?

Inquiry Method

At the top level, Inquiry Method is a life perspective.  The basic tenants are:

  1.  True happiness comes from the inside.
  2.  Every experience that causes a negative feeling is an entry point for removing an obstacle to that happiness.
  3.  We all have the power to remove the obstacles within us.
  4.  As we remove these obstacles we not only connect with deeper happiness but also with Inner-Knowing.
  5.  Inner-Knowing is a capacity we all have that when used creates more harmony and potency within and without.
  6.  Inquiry is a process of curiosity practiced internally and externally resulting in a sense of wonder and clarity of insight in a ever deepening capacity.

The process for removing obstacles is:

  1. Pre-Recognition, at this stage we are in denial and we have not acknowledged that there is an issue.  We all have issues.
  2. Recognition, we acknowledge that something is not working or could be working better.
  3. Safety, we become safe for ourselves and others, we remove judgment and criticism, we become objective caring observers of the facts, truth.
  4. Awareness, we practice becoming aware of the factors within ourselves that create our objection to the truth.  Does the struggle come from the mind (ego or beliefs), the emotional body (emotions), or from our source (Inner-Knowing).
  5. Letting Go, having identified the blockage we drop into our capacity to let go and use this tool to resolve the inner conflict with what is true.  This innate capacity must be relearned; it is an innate human capacity.
  6. Inner-Knowing, is the result of our process of removing obstacles; from Inner-Knowing all becomes clear, resolution of conflict seems obvious.  Actions that result are potent, natural and create the best results.

Inquiry Method™ is a life perspective and also a tool for interacting with others.  Interactions with others from a perspective of inquiry create great relationships.


Many people are surprised when I advocate selfishness and they struggle with this concept.  I think it’s time for a clarification.

When I talk about selfishness, I mean doing what is best for the self.  The selfishness I am talking about is not the selfishness that is pleasing the ego or emotions or any dysfunction; it is the selfishness of pleasing who you really are at the core.  Always be selfish for your soul, for source, for inner-truth.

Often selfishness is brought up in the context of what I call neediness. Neediness is when I have to keep consuming in the attempt to feel good.

Neediness comes in two forms: the traditional “needy person” (I call this weak needy), or in the form of a “taker,” someone who is always taking from others (I call this strong needy).

Neediness can be emotionally or physically needy (body) or ego needy (mind) and come in both strong and weak forms.  Examples are:

  • Needing support and encouragement all of the time
  • Getting self in bad situations and needing to be rescued
  • Manipulation
  • Victimhood or martyrdom
  • Over consumption
  • Greed
  • Overly competitive
  • Miserly
  • Spenders
  • Needing control
  • Rebellion
  • Aggression
  • Jealousy
  • Shaming
  • Etc.

The difference between neediness and selfishness in my understanding is that it is simply a function of a person’s level of personal development.  Selfishness in someone who does not have a strong foundation expresses itself as needy (strong or weak), but as a person grows, selfishness evolves and expresses itself in ways that serve one’s source.

Once you learn to take care of yourself, your selfishness makes sure that you get what you need, but it is in balance because you have a broader view that what serves you is not about getting control of others or getting the most of something or always having it your way.  Often, evolved selfishness is the awareness that our well-being is often improved when others around us have what they need.

In this way “want for me” evolves into “want for us.”  It is all still selfishness and self-interest, but it becomes an ever-expanding bubble as we see that we are all interconnected.

How does the well-being of others around you impact your well-being?

Lets hope that we all keep growing so that we can recognize that the well-being of the planet is in our selfish, self-interest.


Ambition, Regret and Refinement

Ambition is highly regarded in our culture—we should “dream big,” “go for the gold,” it is the “secret.”  We honor ambition and swim in it.  We are surrounded by messages of more and better.  You cannot pick up a magazine without feeling the ambition to be skinnier, richer, have more wristwatches or faster cars.  We are surrounded by encouragement to want more, have more, and produce more.

What is the effect of ambition?

Some say that ambition will make you more successful, it will help you overcome your resistance, it will make you “go for it.”  In my experience, we are how we are.  Some people are go for it people and they are successful with that.  Some of those people are happy and some are not.  If you are a go for it person, you will be unable not to go for it.  If you are not, ambition may play a different role in your life.

The side-effect of ambition, for many people, is a feeling of lack.  The more that people yearn for, the more aware they become of what they don’t have.  Life will seem like it is lacking something.  We may actually have abundant lives full of wonderful things, events, and people, but the culture of ambition may take its luster away.

Regret is the same as ambition, but instead of projecting into the future, we project lack into our past, we wish we had done more, had more, made different decisions.  Why?  Because then we would have more now.  Regret is useless and handicapping.  It is also a form of ambition, showing itself in a different form and ambition can be debilitating, even depressing, for many people.

What most people say or fear is that if they let go of regret and ambition, they would do nothing; they would have no mode of moving forward, for improving their lives.  Except in a few, ambition either does not create success or creates the wrong success for the wrong reasons.

But how does one grow, improve, have more of what matters?

What I have seen work for most people, is to stop the need to drive toward anything and to continue to refine themselves, taking what they have, who they are, and making it better.

I read an article about Malcolm Gladwell’s idea of 10,000 hours to master anything.  It said that just doing something for 10,000 hours did not convey mastery, but rather 10,000 hours of refinement were needed, working to improve, seeking how to do it better, to be more efficient.  What gives mastery to life and to you is the desire to improve upon who you are and how you do what you do. If ambition inspires you to refine yourself, it may be helpful, but the cost of the feeling of constant lack may not be worth it.

I believe it is better to be grateful for what you have, to appreciate who you are here and now; and as you engage in your life, to be in a constant state of refinement, making small adjustments to make life more efficient, effective, joyful, abundant, inspiring, skillful, and open (or whatever qualities you want to have more of), and through this process more of what you want will come to you.

Refinement is less flashy, it is in the trenches, it requires us to see and accept ourselves the way we are, to recognize our skills and talents and our limitations.  It asks us to appreciate our lives as they are and through focus on improvement and small victories trust that the right abundance will come to us, the abundance that fits us, the abundance that we really want.

The side effect of refinement is skillfulness, amplification of the best parts of us, harmony, inner peace, gratitude, mastery, and solid, grounded abundance.

What do you want to refine in yourself?



I often hear people talking about wanting to feel a connection with others, with family, friends, partners, co-workers, etc.  How do you connect with other people?

For connection to happen, there has to be a flow, meaning something moving from one place to another.  I like the metaphor of electricity.  For current to flow, there has to be a positive and a negative pole, like on a battery.  How does this flow or polarity work with people?

The polarity in people has to do with giving and receiving.  We create connection when one person is providing something and the other person is receiving it, like DC (direct current in a battery).  We can also feel connection when there is giving and receiving simultaneously or in parallel, as when we are giving or receiving together.

But first lets look at the basic connection, giving and receiving.

You may have noticed that in some of your relationships connection is primarily one way, meaning that you are either the giver or the receiver most of the time.  You may find that this can sometimes feel out of balance.  For example, if you are always giving without receiving, you may find that the only way you know how to connect with this person is through giving.  If you are stuck in giving, it is good to break out of that pattern and practice receiving or learn to give in a healthy manner.  Unskillful giving is harmful to the giver and receiver.

Oddly, in our culture, we tend to feel more comfortable giving than receiving.  Many people I work with feel like they are giving from an empty tank.  This is not a sustainable situation and needs to be corrected.  First we need to learn how to fill our own tanks.  One of the ways to do this is to practice and set up situations in which we can receive.

If you are used to always giving, you may be surprised to learn that there is an equally beautiful and different quality of connection with another person when you receive.

I love to be around people who are excellent receivers.  When you offer them something of value, they love it, appreciate it, use it, benefit from it, and share it with others.  I feel a deep connection with these people, in their successes and in their wins.  I also love it when someone really sees me and gracefully offers me something that I value.  With these people, too, I feel a deep connection and they with me.

We need to learn and practice receiving, and through this practice we can actually receive more of what is offered.  I see this in my coaching.  I actually teach my clients to become more receptive, and as they get better at it, they receive more benefit from the coaching.  This does not mean that they become undiscerning.  It’s more that they can better direct me toward what they need so that they can receive it and receive it fully. They can grow and shine in the receiving and become great receivers.

The more we learn to receive, the better we get at giving or offering.  We are more in touch with ourselves and less in need, so we can give more freely.  As this cycle goes on, we deepen our abilities to connect with others and the benefits we receive by creating balanced relationships of giving and receiving.  We learn to ask for what we really need and hear better what others need.  Mastering both giving and receiving are core principals of the Inquiry Method.

The better we get at giving and receiving, and as others around us improve, we can create special relationships where both are going on at the same time; for example in love making or cooking together, or at work when there is a special creative synergy.  We can master this flow of energy that is like AC current (where electrons flow back and forth at a very high rate).

We can also experience connection with others when we are flowing in parallel, as when doing shared giving, caring together for a sick relative, or doing something philanthropic.  Connection is also present during shared receiving, like going to an experience together, being classmates, receiving awards or accolades, etc.

If you feel a lack of connection or a desire for more, get good at healthy giving (not giving self away), or become brilliant at receiving (asking for what you need and showing your gratitude), or find a situation where you can give with others (maybe the food bank or team up to teach something you have mastered), or get with others to receive (take a class or come to the Mountain Experience).

We need the feeling of connection, it is a basic human desire that we can and should master the skills needed to feel connected with others.  It is part of what it means to be an effective human being.

(Note:  If you have heard me talk about entanglement, see if you can feel the difference between connection and giving yourself away.  How can you define the difference?  How can you connect without giving yourself away?)

What is one thing you could do today to feel connected?



Healing Relationships

In my experience our anger can rarely hold up to honest inquiry into the other person. Once we see the situation from their perspective, through their eyes our perception of events or circumstances takes on a whole new view.  People do not often act from malice or forethought, mostly they are doing their best, often times with information or a perspective that we lack. In working with conflict there are few conflicts than can stand direct inquiry.  It is deeply sad when these kinds of differences of perspective taint important relationships over long periods of time. It takes courage and vulnerability to discover and hear the truth; this is the beginning of forgiveness and growth for the person who is courageous enough to inquire. Healing does not just happen it is created.