My Dad had a terrible habit.
I thought it was terrible, anyway. Or At least I thought so.
He wouldn’t tell me what to do.
Specifically, he wouldn’t tell me what to do when I didn’t know what to do and wanted him to tell me what he thought I should do.
True, most kids don’t want their parents telling them what to do. And I was like most kids most of the time. But on occasion, I wanted him to tell me what to do. And he wouldn’t. Worse, instead of answering my question he asked me questions! His go-to question was: What are you going to do when I’m not around to tell you what to do?
My go-to response was: But you are around, so tell me!
Clearly, his response did not indicate a lack of interest on his part. Just the opposite. As it turns out, I employed the same strategy with my kids…or tried to anyway. Maybe one day they’ll write a book about it.
His go-to question wasn’t his only question. During middle school and high school his arsenal of questions included one of the five we will explore later: What is the wise thing to do? As a teenager that pesky question usually eliminated most of my preferred options. But when I leaned in, it eliminated unnece/estions? Why not just tell me what he thought I should do? The reason was simple. He was teaching me how to make decisions. Good decisions. He started early. Maybe too early. But to his credit, and my advantage, he started while the stakes were low.
Perhaps unbeknownst to him, my dad was teaching me something else as well. By opting for questions over direction my dad connected two important dots for me. Dots many folks never connect. He helped me make the connection between good questions and good decisions. To tease that out a bit, he helped me make the connection between well-placed, appropriately timed, thought provoking questions and good decision making. Simply put:
Good questions lead to better decisions.
And better decisions lead to fewer regrets.
This is why on the back side of a bad decision it is not unusual to hear someone say, “I should have asked more questions.” Why? Because we know intuitively that the more questions we ask the more information we acquire which leads to greater insight and hopefully better decisions. But pausing to ponder a list of potentially disruptive questions is neither easy nor intuitive.
Truth is, most of us resist uninvited questions when making a decision. In the moment we feel like we’re being questioned rather than simply being asked a question. Big difference. When we confuse one for the other our defenses go up and our leaning aptitude goes down. It’s virtually impossible to welcome new information or insight when convinced our judgment is being questioned. This is especially true when making personal decisions. After all, they’re personal! Translated, it’s nobody’s business.
But let’s be honest.
You’ve never made a personal decision that didn’t become somebody’s business. Private decisions almost always have public ramifications. Right? Every decision we make impacts somebody in our public. Beginning with the folks closest to us. There’s no getting around the fact that well-placed, appropriately timed, thought provoking questions result in
better decisions and fewer regrets.
Every decision you make becomes a permanent part of your story.
The story of your life.
What story do you want to tell?
What story do you want told about you?
The good news is, you get to decide. But you decide one decision at a time because you write the story of your life…one decision at a time.
Taken from Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets by Andy Stanley. Copyright © 2020 by Andy Stanley. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
Andy Stanley is founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries (Atlanta, Georgia), a television host and podcaster, and the author of more than twenty books. His latest book is Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets: 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Next Move.