Seven Better Questions You Can Ask in the Midst of Adversity

I have several friends who are going through enormous uncertainty right now. Some are out of work. A few others are on the precipice of divorce. Still others have been diagnosed with cancer—one who is pregnant. In these situations, most of us ask, “Why is this happening to me?”

Business People Holding Question Mark Signs in Front of Their Caces - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs, Image #11860969

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

Years ago, two months after I became the publisher of one of our book divisions, we lost a major author to a competing company. This had a significant negative impact on our bottom line. At first, I was angry. Then I became discouraged. Finally, I realized I was asking the wrong question.

Instead of asking “Why did this happen?” I started asking, “How can this make us better?” Immediately, I sensed a shift in my spirit. It began energizing me. In retrospect, losing the author was one of the best things that could have happened to my division. We grew from the experience in ways that would have never happened otherwise.

I learned a valuable lesson: the answers we get are often determined by the questions we ask. If we ask bad questions, we will get bad answers. If we ask better questions—empowering questions—we will get better answers.

If you are going through a difficult, uncertain time, here are seven better questions you can ask yourself and your team:

  1. What if this isn’t the end but a new beginning?
  2. What if the answer to my prayer is just over the next hill?
  3. What if this is necessary in order for me to be prepared for the next important chapter in my life?
  4. What if God knows exactly what I need at this particular time?
  5. What if God is speaking to me through means I would not have chosen for a blessing I cannot see?
  6. What does this experience make possible?
  7. What will I be telling my grandchildren that I learned was so valuable in this season of my life?

How is this related to leadership? As I have written numerous times before, leaders must lead themselves first—even when they don’t feel like it. Sometimes it just starts with a better question.

Question: What should you be asking NOW in your situation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Steve Brogan

    At the ripe young age of 65+, my wife and I are starting over. We have taken a financial disaster of losing 55% of value in our former home and owing more than the house was worth to selling it and starting over, buying a house that way within our current price range – in Vegas. NV. We started out as East Coasters and are ending up South Westerners. It was all from asking the right questions instead of asking “How can this happen to me”!  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708147382 Trudy Metzger

    Life changing questions! Excellent post!

  • Gloria Avyer

    I was just writing about the same subject with a different twist: http://www.gloriasavyer.com/1/post/2012/11/terrible-things-i-treasure.html

    Will today’s tragedy be tomorrow’s treasure?

  • L Zimmerman

    My God does not give you cancer to teach or prepare you for anything. God allows horrible things to happen. Part of the answer of why… we will never know. Man has added to suit himself. God must laugh, Jesus said remember these two things above all else. Man has lived, interpreted and belived  so far from these.

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  • http://personablemedia.com/ Heath Rost

    Thank you for putting content like this out there, thank you on behalf of all 7 billion of us.

  • Joy

    The timing of this topic is absolutely perfect. My father married secretly, without bothering to tell us. Not even our relatives told us. We discovered this through our neighbor.Unfortunately, we are viewing the motive with malice (sorry but I am just being honest here after feeling betrayed).

    You are spot on when you said ask bad questions receives bad answers – good questions leads to more right answers if not action on how to overcome this. I am now at the point of taking that challenge of trying to understand why he or the relatives did this to us. Thank you.

  • http://www.dianeyuhas.com/ Diane Yuhas

    GREAT questions. #6 is fabulous.

  • http://jennyrain.com/ JennyRain

    SO glad you do archive re-posts because this was just in time for me! On 7/27 of this year (2013) I felt God say in my spirit “Ask a different question” — I penned it in my journal but I’ve been pondering since then… what is the question that I NEED to be asking? I haven’t – as yet – been able to answer that. I’m going to copy your list of questions into my journal and see how they help me reframe things. Thanks so much Michael!

  • KevinIvey

    Excellent. A number of years ago the Lord spoke to me once (yeah, I know) as my mother slipped away from this life into the next and, I, alone in the dark hospital room still holding her hand began to onload on God for the unfairness of my Mom’s life-the struggles, the disappointments, etc…And, thru the hot tears, when I finally became quiet, as clear as a bell, God spoke to me and one of the things He said was: ‘I have your Mother in the palm of my hand, she’s alright and, I have you in the palm of my hand, you’re ok.’ Never, never the same. Thanks for posting

  • DNaug

    Tim Mcgraw said it best “I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age,The ending of an era and the turning of a page, Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here, Lord have mercy on my next thirty years” After losing a job and being devastated I felt sorry for myself. Then I realized its not the fall but the bounce that counts.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love your last sentence!

      • DNaug

        Wow, start a new job, work 3 get paid for 5 (as opposed to me last retail gig) and get a compliment from Michael Hyatt. This is my week!

  • Mark Cleghorn

    A different perspective would be to ask “Why not me?”

  • Emily Gayle Aitken

    My Mom was part of the emergency first responders group at the church when I was growing up. Their first question was “What kind of casserole would you like?” There was a freezer full at the church.