Breaking the Rules: Accessing Your Inner Wisdom by Kurt Wright, Patricia Wright
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Last annotated on August 16, 2016
My first experience of Kurt Wright’s extraordinary understanding of questions occurred in 1989 when he invited me to participate in a 12 hour long “Dialogue For Visionary Leaders.” He engaged six of us in a most insightful dialogue around the question, “When was the last time you can remember giving all you’ve got to achieve some goal or complete some task?”
Note: There is a systematic way for us to increase the use of the intuitive part of our mind
My second experience with Kurt came when he conducted a team dialogue with my division operating committee at 3M Pharmaceuticals. That was probably a major turning point—for me as well as for the whole group of people who worked very closely together—because we came to appreciate what was needed to take advantage of the intuitive power of our team. It built the trust considerably and helped us create an environment where people did not have to be defensive. This greatly strengthened relationships among everyone on our management team.
Note: Embrace the notion of working to find the value in everyone’s contribution
I invite you to join me now as we explore a fundamental question which has led to all of the insights presented in this book: “What are you and I like at our very best?”
Over the past 27 years, my relentless pursuit of answers to this question has transformed my life. It is now my intent to make the life-transforming benefits of this question available to everyone who chooses to read this book.
This book explains why we must make a fundamental shift in our approach to asking questions—from one of inquiring about what is not working, to one of learning to identify and build upon what is working. But it doesn’t stop there. It shows exactly how to bring this shift about, and how this will allow us to reach higher levels of personal achievement—and do so with less effort than we may have ever thought possible. In other words, we are about to explore a set of insights that can bring us back to a natural style of inquiry found to be always at work in people who are wholeheartedly committed and on a roll.
Note: Make a fundamental shift in how you use questions to build upon what’s working
By adopting this style of inquiry, each of us can return to and remember how to sustain ourselves in the euphoric state of effortless high performance— which I again propose is our naturally intended state.
also reveals why efforts to manage change that rely on “yet another theory” to fix what’s wrong are destined to fail. Thus, it is surely not my intent to continue this practice here. I seriously question the need for yet another theory when, deep inside us at an intuitive level, each of us already knows all we need to know to be at our best. Yes, that is a core finding from my study.
Note: Efforts to manage change based on “yet another theory” are destined to fail
Findings convince me that being at our best is a natural state which cannot be accessed via the overlay of “yet another theory.” Asking ourselves and being asked right questions (in order to regain conscious access to what we already know intuitively) is a path far more certain to put our lives on a permanent roll.
Key to getting on a roll and staying there is learning to frame questions in such a way that they cannot be processed analytically. When we do this correctly, our questions are automatically processed by our intuition.
Hopefully this book will not reward anyone for looking to me for answers. Instead, it will equip us all to look more skillfully inside ourselves—not to our egos or intellects, but to our hearts and our intuition—where the only true answers for guiding our lives await our discovery.
As I reviewed those successes, an obvious pattern emerged. Every big success had taken place when I was going against the crowd. My trading style was clearly “contrarian,” and it taught me a key lesson: The crowd is always wrong.
I learned the importance of being able to read and understand a crowd’s direction, and then take this as a clue to begin my search for the truth in exactly the opposite direction. I knew better than to think the opposite would always be true, but it has always been the most promising place for me to begin my search for the truth. This has proven to be an important philosophy for guiding my decisions ever since.
Effortless high performers operate at a level of wholehearted commitment that is far deeper, more intuitive and longer-lasting than most people ever experience.
Another key factor shared by those who experienced this unusually deep form of commitment was a clear sense of purpose. Somehow, each had an ability to keep their actions and behaviors in alignment with their purpose in life.
Purpose, therefore, is not something that can be “invented” or decided upon intellectually. It is something we already know—even though it may be at some intuitive level deep within us—and it waits patiently to be discovered and brought up to a conscious level of awareness.
It took several years of searching before the insight emerged that effortless high performers ask very different questions of themselves than do less productive people.
I now know that the discipline of asking properly framed questions will play a far greater role in allowing us to reach the state of effortless high performance than any other single factor.
Here is a helpful way to understand the importance of asking the right questions. Can you bring to mind a three-year-old child? It can be one you know currently, or one you can remember knowing in the past. With the child you have brought to mind as a specific reference point, can you now identify four or five key characteristics you might expect to find in nearly every three-year-old you meet?
Did “fearless” show up on your list? How about “insatiable curiosity?” Can you think of a specific question most three-year-olds might ask? What about their energy level? Is it generally high or low?
People who operate at their best most of the time all exhibit the same boundless energy and insatiable curiosity as a three-year-old child!
Fear is a key by-product of the illusory world view of depletion and shortage. Love, trust and anticipation of joy is the by-product of the world view of surplus and abundance.
The question we must ask ourselves is, “How do we switch from a world view of depletion and shortage to one of surplus and abundance?” Again, welcome to the purpose of this book.
Obstacles are the things we see when we take our eyes off the goal, and you will learn why it is so much more effective to deliberately and systematically abandon obstacles to it than it is to attempt to overcome them.
My intent in engaging you in this dialogue is to enable you to move out of the observer role and take active ownership of the desired outcome of reading this book.
You could learn a new way of asking questions that will allow you to build trust, improve communications and make all of your interactions with others more meaningful and productive.
Asking properly framed questions is truly the key skill which leads to effortless high performance—and ultimately nearly every other desired outcome on the list as well.
We must learn to use our intellects—our conscious, rational minds—to frame questions so they cannot be processed rationally. When we do this correctly, the processing of our questions is shifted by default to our intuitive minds.
Our analytical minds are known to use a deductive reasoning process that depletes our energy, while our intuitive minds use an inductive reasoning process that generates fresh, new supplies of creative energy. (i.e., our earlier reference to the three-year-old child.)
When we ask any kind of a what’s right question, on the other hand, our rational mind hasn’t a clue about how to process the question on its own. As a result, our what’s right questions are deferred to our less assertive but far more powerful intuition—where they are processed in a manner that generates energy.
What do you find most intriguing?
“Can you be even more specific about what intrigues you about the piece you’ve mentioned?”
Very few of us are aware of the degree to which we create our own negative life experiences out of the very energy we expend in trying to avoid or prevent them.
First, we must understand energy and how our thoughts affect it. Here is the basic concept. Whenever we focus our attention on something— give our energy to it—we can be certain it will expand. In other words, whenever we focus our attention on a negative or undesired aspect of our life, it expands. Whenever we keep our attention focused on a desired goal or positive aspect of our life, it too expands. The issue is it’s our choice. It’s as simple as that.
As I introduce each, be sure to examine it with an intuition-engaging question such as, “How could personal mastery of this element enhance my overall state of being?” Do the same at the end with the elements as a whole.
The fifth and final element has been repeatedly and eloquently addressed by Drucker, yet its awesome potential remains untapped by most people. This element calls our attention to the vitally important discipline of continually identifying and building upon our strengths. It shows the benefits of relentless, disciplined use of what’s right questions, and enables us to fully comprehend all aspects of our strengths —so we can use them as building blocks to create our ideal future.
This fifth element holds the key for unlocking the entire plan. I see more than 90% of us operating in a “find-what’s-wrong-and-fix-it” mode. This is directly opposed to the mode required to activate this plan. Only after we reverse this mode of thinking and begin to master the key discipline of identifying and building upon our strengths can we expect to begin accessing the power of our purpose.
The initial question is simply “what’s right?” or “what’s working? Next, “what makes it right?” or “why does it work?” Third, “what would be ideally right?” or “what would work ideally?” Fourth, “what’s not yet quite right?” Last, “what resources can I find to make it right?”
Note: The structure of what’s right questions for effortless high performance
The effortless high performer has identified something deserving of further inquiry, their next step is to begin wondering, “What is it that makes this right?” or “What makes this work?” This is really the three-year-old’s why question. It’s a wonderful, intuition- engaging, insight-producing, energy-generating question. I cannot begin to overemphasize the importance of asking this question. Among other things, it works to transform knowledge into wisdom.
Note: How to transform knowledge into wisdom with this question
Structure of What’s Right Questions disparate pieces of knowledge are joined together and thus transformed into wisdom. Whenever this occurs, a permanent node of energy is always created.
As tiny chunks of wisdom are brought into proximity with other pieces of knowledge or wisdom, subsequent eureka moments continue to build larger and larger chunks of wisdom. At the same time this process generates greater and greater stores of creative energy.
Third question, “What can I imagine might be ideally right?” is a vision-building question actually processed by the analytical mind. Since this is true, the process of developing a vision is known to consume a vast amount of creative energy.
I suspect it could easily be the most powerful motivating force in the entire universe. It is as if this feeling of creative tension sends out a telegraph message to the universe inviting the perfect resources to come and fill the void created by the question, “What would the ideal (_______) look like?”
The fourth question in this cascading hierarchy is, “What, then, is not yet quite right?” This is the true motivating question for visionary leaders and other effortless high performers. As the ultimate intuition- engaging question, it further defines the edges of the “holes” in an evolving vision of the ideal. It thereby gives the resulting vacuum even more power to attract the perfect resources to fill the ever more clearly defined hole in their vision.
What do I know is already right? The agenda-setting question What is it that makes it right? The energy-generating question What would be ideally right? The vision-building question What’s not yet quite right? The gap-defining question What resources can I find to make it right? The action-engaging question:
Could our notion of trying to find what’s wrong and fix it be what’s wrong and we’ve found it? You got it. Not only that, but it can’t be fixed!
How about all the energy we focus on our strengths? You guessed it again. This has the wonderful, effect of magnetically and effortlessly attracting to us the results we desire. This magnetic effect means those of us who master the discipline of identifying and building on our strengths will find ourselves achieving results we desire with far less effort than we would normally expect. Are you beginning to see the foundations being put in place to enable each of us to reach and sustain the wonderful state of effortless high performance?
The concept of weakness is an imaginary construct of the human mind. In reality weaknesses cannot and do not exist! We must learn to recognize the truth that reality consists only of degrees of strength.
That the energy around an unanswered question may very well be the most powerful motivating force in the universe.