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2019: BETTER THAN RESOLUTIONS, NEW YEAR QUESTIONS




By  Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
www.jorgemanuelzelaya.com
January 1st, 2019



Hal Gregersen does not know me personally. I do not know him personally either; but he is largely responsible for me writing these lines.
Hal Gregersen Phd. is the executive director of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Leadership Center, and at the same time author of the book "The Questions are the Answers," published November last year.
In his way of thinking I have found reflected the intellectual thread of something I have experienced  for several years in my personal and professional life; but that I have particularly just validated at the end of 2018.
When I started my teaching career at 18 years of age (and in the subsequent years) I was completely sure that my success as a teacher should be to be able to know ALL THE ANSWERS to the questions asked by my students. Maybe because of my young age and experience, I never wanted to give the impression of not knowing something about the class I was teaching at the time.
Today, a few decades later, I am completely convinced that my responsibility is to know ALL THE QUESTIONS. Over time I have become a PQ (Professional Questioner). I am no longer afraid of not knowing all the answers (of course, with the commitment that if I do not have the answer at that moment, the next day the student will have the answer  researched it in detail). I have discovered that each student needs to be heard through the simplest instrument to put the left and right hemispheres of their brain to work: THE QUESTION.

At the beginning of every year the vast majority of people feel emotionally motivated and full of energy to write their New Year's resolutions. Personally, I am a fierce detractor of these resolutions, due to their high ineffectiveness. Numerous studies of human behavior confirm this, among which the one from the University of Scranton (state of Pennsylvania in the United States) stands out, where it is established that only 8% of the people who declare  "New Year resolutions" manage to achieve them at the end of the 12 months after which they have been outlined.
On the other hand, goals, through strategic planning or a monitoring/accountability system, are, without a doubt, the least imperfect way to define what we want to achieve. However, Gregersen's thinking is, in my opinion, what further validates the effectiveness of a goal.

This last December 31st, shortly after noon, I performed a ritual that since some years ago (I would have liked to have this habit as a child) I practice each last day of the year that is about to end. I carefully reviewed and evaluated the personal goals that I set in January against the results obtained as of December 2018. While some results were flattering, some were not so much, and others showed extremely poor results. Right here is where the importance of QUESTIONS is born.
Everything changes by using the interrogative word WHY. Why did I not make it? Why are some goals achieved relatively easily and others are not? Just to incorporate the question WHY? led me to write 15 additional questions that allowed me to establish with clarity the reasons why those goals were not carried out with good success.
However, perhaps the biggest finding of the questions is to realize that at the end of the day the only responsible (not guilty) person of not achieving them is me. Nobody else.

I am covinced, based on my experience and knowledge, that the best way to seek to achieve something in each year that begins should be to set goals for ourselves by asking the right questions beforehand. The first question must be WHY? Why do I seek to that goal? Why did I not achieve the same goal last year... and the previous one? Why some I did achieve and some I did not?

When the human being has goals, the goals become a magnet that drives him to achieve them. However, there is no better way to set goals than to ask the right and direct questions before. The right questions should stimulate dopammine and serotonin (the "good" neurotransmitters in the human brain) and not cortisol (the "bad" stress neurotransmitter).
Right questions before setting goals are extremely efficient and profitable. They reduce our negative emotions and confront us with reality. Once the questions are asked... the goals will become the answers themselves. In 2019... our goals' quality to be achieved will be directly proportional to the caliber of the questions asked beforehand.
And if on December 31, 2019 we find that we did not achieve some of those goals, then it will be time to ask QUESTIONS again (some new and others not so much). The virtuous circle has begun. 

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