This book was given to me by a consulting colleague. It focuses on Ben, who gets promoted to a big leadership role, but is failing, so his female boss and CEO, Alexa, engages a coach for him. Ben is an “answer man” who needs to learn how to ask more questions, versus having to have all the answers and do everything himself. I started reading it and it felt too basic, so I jumped ahead to see what the future would bring and I came upon the “Choice Map” (pages 42-43). This is brilliant simple graph illustrating the two key ways to live life – as a learner who asks questions versus a “judger” who focuses on defending his or her actions.

My favorite quotes that demonstrate the learner mindset include:

“Questions drive results.”

“Every question missed is a potential crisis waiting to happen.”

“Where you stumble, there your treasure is.”

“Blame keeps us stuck in the past. Responsibility paves the path for a better future.”

As someone who is recovering judger, I realize that I still struggle to switch from being a judger to a learner. For example, recently a client gave me feedback that I made a mistake. My first reaction was, “What is wrong with me? What was I thinking?” which is a judger mindset. If I can switch to the learner mindset, I’ll ask questions such as “What happened? What are the facts?” As I ask those questions, I noticed I made this mistake when I wasn’t 100% due to the recent deaths of both of my parents.  This “choice map” along with the quotes above helped me challenge my assumptions that I can be at my best regardless as to what else is happening in your life.  Challenging that perfectionist assumption help me realize I was holding myself to unrealistic standard and be more compassionate and focus on what choices do I have now and what results to I want?

The story about Ben which of course ends up happily ever after with his learner mindset making him a more effective leader and a better husband, while seeming a bit trite, does demonstrate the difficultly of moving from judger to learner and the significant impact it can have on one’s life.  There are many research studies that demonstrate how having more of a learner and growth mindset leads to better results. There is a useful workbook in the back with 12 question tools.

It left me wanting to experiment with asking more questions in general and see where it takes me…  So I practiced these tools in a hot tub by suspending my judger and asking more questions to five guys in a hot tub which helped me enjoy my vacation more!


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