A Question Worth Asking

Last month I pointed out that many people evaluate the world around them by asking themselves questions. I further went on to explain how most people ask terrible questions when they do so.  This month however, I wanted to share the one question I ask that has greatly shaped how I handle my life.

A year ago I was reading a book written by a business and marketing expert.  And unlike most experts today, I really think he knows his stuff! The author was discussing how to be productive in the workplace and how many of us end up wasting time accidentally. As a remedy for wasted busy-ness he advocated asking yourself with each task or job “Where is the profit in that?” The author recommends this question be applied to every activity of your work day so that we may honestly evaluate if what we’re doing is actually worthwhile.
So if I’m:
Checking e-mails
Cleaning my office
Surfing the web

Where is the profit in that?

Once I started to conscientiously ask myself this question I noticed this was in fact a question I had been asking for years, just never in the work context. And it is a question that I highly recommend you apply to nearly every part of your life.

For example, recently while at a sports bar, I saw two guys get into a fight over a baseball game “Where is the profit in that?” It’s easy to see there is none, and it’s much easier to see when it’s not us!

But personally, not too long ago while driving I had someone cut me off pretty severely. Slamming on the brakes I was furious (they could have hurt my dog!) I immediately considered yelling, waving, driving up next to them and giving them the “mean face” or any number of responses.  But I had to ask myself, “Where is the profit in that?” Honest evaluation told me that there was nothing to be gained or profited from by such responses. So I let it go… eventually.

Too many times I see people get themselves fired up, angry, or even violent over situations where there is simply nothing to be gained, there is no profit in it, and yet they continue. I’m sure some pursue such pointless actions because they feel it’s justified. Well even if such activities are justified in certain circumstances, that doesn’t necessarily make them worthwhile. And make no mistake, not only is there no profit, there is likely a cost! The cost could be stress, hypertension, high blood pressure, or worse.

So by all means, while at work ask yourself this question to evaluate if what you’re doing is in fact productive and worthwhile to your company or your goals. But when you find yourself feeling offended, angry, or about to lose your temper over a situation, stop and ask yourself “Where is the profit in that?” Just like in the workplace, I think you’ll find yourself engaging in far fewer pointless activities.

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