Two Questions to Change Your World (#679)

Over 700 years ago, the Fransiscan friar William of Ockham posited a simple idea that has become a universal tool for sifting through the numerous theoretical constructs that abound in nearly every school of science, philosophy and theology.

The tool, known as “Ockham’s Razor”, states:

“Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem”

which according to my trawl around the internet can be translated in the phrase:

“Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”

Or as Albert Einstein put it:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible – but no simpler.”

The other day, I was speaking with Rich Litvin, the creator of the Confident Women’s Salon and one of the teachers at Supercoach Academy). We were applying “Ockham’s razor” to the field of life coaching, exploring what would be the simplest way to make the largest difference in someone’s life.

Specifically, the question we were playing with was “if you could only ask your clients one question, what would that question be?”

Rich’s answer was immediate, wonderful, and to the point. If he could only ask one question to change somebody’s world, it would be this:

What would make you feel most alive?

Think about it – what (if anything) is actually missing from your life? Is it the love of a romantic partner? The excitement of a new adventure? A certain amount of money? Fulfilling work?

Or is what’s actually missing the feeling of vibrant aliveness that you would feel in the moment of having any one of those things?

The scope and impact of this question is echoed in one of my favorite quotes of all time from the Reverend Howard Thurman:

“Don’t ask what the world needs – ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

When Rich then turned the “one question” question back towards me, my first thought was that I would ask people “what do you want?”, or “what would you love to have happen in your life?”, or even “what would you love to create?”

These questions are powerful when answered honestly, because they create and clarify a direction and pathway from wherever you are to wherever you most want to be.

But then I realized that lots of people already know what they want and dismiss it out of hand, convinced that what they would have to do in order to get it is not “them”, not worth it, or not possible.

So if I only had one question to ask, it would be this:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t afraid. Don’t worry about whether or not you actually are or aren’t afraid – just notice your answers, and notice which ones you want to act on.

As I have written elsewhere, there is a tremendous difference between feeling the fear and doing it anyway and the freedom which comes from finding that space in yourself which is beyond fear. And the more time you spend living beyond fear, the sooner the answer to ‘What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?’ will become ‘Exactly what I’m doing now.’

Today’s Experiment

You can do today’s experiment with a journal, a friend, or a coach…

1. Choose any area of your life where you’d like to have a breakthrough, in terms of your results or your experience or both.

Examples:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Money
  • Sexuality
  • Spirituality

2. Ask yourself (or have your friend ask you) what would make you feel most alive as it relates to that particular aspect of your life. An easy way to do this is to simply notice your energy as you contemplate or talk about a possibility. Make sure you spend the most time talking about the things you feel most alive talking about.

(If you’re asking these questions of a friend, watch their eyes and you will actually see them get brighter when they tap into something that really connects them with their aliveness, almost like watching a light go on inside a darkened room. One of my coaches, Gigi Sage pointed this out to me a few years ago and I’ve enjoyed noticing it ever since!)

3. Next, for each life area complete the sentence starter ‘If I wasn’t afraid, I would…’ as many times as you can (aim for at least six completions).

“If I wasn’t afraid, I would…”

Example: (Relationship)

If I wasn’t afraid, I would…

  • tell the truth more often
  • take time for myself even when my partner didn’t like it
  • make them the most important person in my world
  • ask for sex when I wanted it and just say no when I didn’t
  • commit more deeply to my partner
  • just love them completely without holding back and see what happened

You can repeat this exercise often, with as many different areas of your life as you can think of – I recommend at least once a day, though doing it more frequently seems to accelerate the process. Notice how quickly you experience more freedom, progress, and joy.

Bonus Tip: Your sentence completions are not a new ‘to-do’ list. You’ll know which (if any) of your ideas to act upon because you’ll find yourself acting upon them.

Have fun, learn heaps, come alive and find out what lives beyond fear!

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