The Power of Asking the Right Questions: A Key to Effective Problem-Solving

Before we begin today’s discussion, I’d like to ask if you’ve ever encountered a particular type of question in your work or life:

False questions.

How does it feel to be asked a false question?

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For instance, someone might say, “I have nothing at all. Is there still a chance for me to succeed?” Yet, you can clearly sense that the real question they want to ask is, “Can I achieve success without any effort?”

Or they might say, “These past few years have been really tough. Can you recommend an easier industry for me?” However, it’s evident that the underlying question they truly want to ask is, “Can I find a shortcut?”

These kinds of questions are challenging to answer because they have been wrapped, adorned, and modified with a multitude of embellishments.

However, posing a good question is often more crucial than receiving a good answer. So today, I’d like to take the time to share with you the false questions I’ve encountered, which are quite typical.

After reading this, you might be able to accurately identify these questions. When faced with them again, you can bravely say, “I can’t answer these false questions.”

And when you’re tempted to ask such questions yourself, you can promptly stop, because growth begins with not asking these false questions.

01- How Can I Achieve Success Without Effort?

The first type of typical false question is:

How can I achieve success without effort? I really want to accomplish something significant, but I always feel that I lack the ability, talent, social resources, family background, proper skills, and I didn’t graduate from a prestigious university. Do I still have a chance to succeed?

This type of question essentially implies, “I lack a core competency, but I still want results.”

To that, I’d say, why should you?

Obtaining results usually comes from putting in more hard work, which in turn leads to a competitive advantage and better rewards. If anyone could achieve results without doing anything, it would mean that there’s a group of people out there who get extraordinary returns without any effort. They don’t know anything, yet they receive outstanding rewards. Would you still like such a world?

Unfortunately, this world isn’t interesting at all. There are no get-rich-quick schemes, and there is no overnight success. All the so-called overnight success stories are the result of accumulated efforts. Behind every overnight success, there are countless nights of hard work and persistence. If you want to improve, you have to work diligently every day, step by step, and build your core competencies. There are no shortcuts.

But how can you build your own core competencies?

I’ll give you an example that might resonate with you.

Some time ago, I answered a question on Evolution Island:

“Hi, Run, I’m in my thirties, have only finished middle school, and I’m in debt. I currently work in a fast-food restaurant. Is there any way I can improve myself? Thanks!”

I said, “I have some immature advice for you.

First, consider who you want to become in the next two years. What skills do you need to acquire, and what qualifications do you need to obtain to achieve this goal? For example, in the household services industry, gaining the relevant qualification certificate for household service personnel issued by the labor department will give you more credibility in the job market.

Second, actively seek advice and guidance, make good use of public resources, and invest in your growth. For instance, labor departments often offer free vocational training and lectures, and your community might have resources like libraries and career counseling centers that you can utilize.

Third, maintain your enthusiasm for learning and stay receptive to new knowledge. It’s never too late to start learning and absorbing new information.

Fourth, believe in your own worth. Your current circumstances do not define your value and abilities. Instead, they are opportunities for you to accumulate experience and learn.

Is it really that simple?

Yes, it is. The path to success is often simple.

What’s truly difficult is doing it day after day.

Some people are always looking for a way to get rich overnight, hoping to find a shortcut that is crude, fast, and direct.

We also prefer the narrative of the underdog defeating the strong, as it aligns with our psychological expectations and makes for a thrilling story.

So, when people hit rock bottom, they hope to stumble upon a martial arts manual that will allow them to become invincible as soon as they leave the mountain. When they’re sick or injured, they yearn for a miracle drug that not only instantly heals them but also grants them lifelong inner strength.

However, it’s unfortunate that these scenarios are highly improbable.

Even if they do happen, the outcomes aren’t necessarily good. We’ve seen many cases where people who took performance-enhancing drugs quickly met their demise.

Most of the time, it’s the “giants” who win. After all, giants can wade across the river without struggling, and they can crush their opponents with ease.

Giants have a higher probability of success.

And that’s enough.

So, don’t ask, “How can I achieve success without effort?”

If you genuinely want to succeed, ask yourself, “How can I build my own core competencies to increase my chances of success?”

02 – Is There an Easier Way to Go?

The second type of typical false question is:

Is there an easier way to go? I want to make 10 million, but I can’t wait for over a decade or two. Is there a quicker route? My current industry is too demanding; is there a less strenuous one nearby?

This type of question essentially asks, “Where can I make more profit with less effort? Where can I achieve the same results with less work? Where can I earn more money for the same amount of effort?”

To be honest, such opportunities are rare, very rare. In almost every industry, the challenges are substantial. Don’t assume that others have it “easy” just because you find your work difficult. The so-called “easy” path is often controlled by a select few.

Why is that?

It’s because of what’s known as “dividends.”

What are dividends?

Dividends are temporary structural imbalances in supply and demand caused by changes in consumer behavior, the sudden emergence of new technologies, policy changes, and other factors.

For example, when e-commerce was in its early stages, many users shifted to online shopping, while most offline sellers were unaware of the value of e-commerce. With more buyers and fewer sellers, a wave of dividends emerged. Those few who recognized the trend early and rushed in enjoyed significant dividends.

During the dividend period, anyone who entered the market could benefit from the influx of customers and make money. However, it’s not a place where only you can enter. Everyone notices your success and rushes in as well. Eventually, the number of sellers grows, supply equals demand, and the dividend disappears. When supply greatly exceeds demand, competition becomes increasingly fierce and ruthless.

With no new growth, you have to compete for the existing market share. To obtain traffic, you must bear higher and higher customer acquisition costs.

At this point, if you still want to catch the next round of dividends, you must have a keen eye to spot the next structural supply-demand imbalance.

So, when live streaming sales became a new consumer behavior trend, there were more users watching live streams on their phones than there were businesses selling in those streams. This allowed you to potentially make money by selling just about anything.

Then, a few early adopters joined in sporadically, followed by a massive wave of people who believed it was an easier path and rushed in.

Afterward, cross-border e-commerce became the next opportunity, and so on.

This is what we call “dividends.”

The people who seem to make easy money are those who consistently identify dividends and swiftly seize them, capitalizing on these temporary supply-demand imbalances. They have an acute sense of the business world, are highly sensitive to the pulse of the times, and know where opportunities lie.

If you only want to catch one dividend in your lifetime, you might get lucky. But if you want to seize multiple dividends, you almost certainly need keen insight into the business world.

So, don’t ask, “Is this path too difficult? Is there an easier way to go?”

If you genuinely want to find a so-called easier path, ask yourself, “Have consumer behaviors changed recently? Are there any emerging technologies worth embracing? Have there been any new policies recently that I should read about?”

03 – These Consumers Are Hard to Please, What Should I Do?

The third type of typical false question is:

These consumers are hard to please, what should I do? Our product is genuinely excellent. Everyone in our team believes that this product far surpasses our competitors in the market. So, of course, we should set a higher price. But our customers say it’s too expensive, and they want a discount. Sigh, today’s consumers are becoming more and more demanding. They even find this fantastic product too pricey.

This type of question implies that you’ve already done everything right, but this generation of consumers just doesn’t appreciate it.

Let me tell you, you should never think this way.

If your target customers find your product too expensive, there are typically only two reasons:

  1. They don’t believe the product or service is worth the price.
  2. The product or service may be worth the price, but your specific offering is not.

In the end, if consumers “feel” that it’s not worth it, then it genuinely isn’t.

Your only solution is to provide enough value that they genuinely feel it’s worth it!

What does “genuinely worth it” mean?

Allow me to share a true story from my own experience.

Not too long ago, I had a meeting with several Ph.D. experts in animal husbandry from a dairy conglomerate. They explained to me that they had a bull worth 4 million US dollars.

Yes, you read that right. 4 million US dollars for a bull, equivalent to the price of a house.

Why?

This bull was a “breeding bull,” essentially the father of the dairy cows.

The genetic makeup of a dairy cow has a significant impact on its milk production and milk quality. An average cow produces about 8 tons of milk per year. However, cows with excellent genetics can produce up to 14 tons of milk per year, or even more, with higher milk quality.

So, having a genetically superior father is crucial for the quality of the offspring.

How do they know if the genetics are good or not?

Through genetic testing technology. Bulls undergo genetic testing, which involves over 40-50 categories and thousands of “test questions.” They are assessed based on performance, reproductive performance, health, and other dimensions, resulting in a composite ranking called TPI (Total Performance Index). The higher the TPI ranking, the better the bull’s genetics. Better genetics in the bull means better milk production in the offspring.

And this bull, valued at 4 million US dollars, ranked 42nd in TPI ranking globally.

In other words, there were only 41 bulls worldwide that were deemed more valuable than this one and worth a price of 4 million dollars.

Now, do you still think 4 million dollars is too expensive?

People aren’t unwilling to spend money; they are just unwilling to spend it on things they don’t find valuable.

A genuine, exceptional experience and value proposition will always find a market, even if it’s expensive. As long as you can offer a product that genuinely justifies its price, delivering something that’s worth 5 units at the cost of 3 units, or even making customers feel it’s worth 8 units, you’ll never miss out on the opportunity to make money.

So, don’t ask, “These consumers are hard to please, what should I do?”

If you genuinely want to solve the problem, ask yourself, “What kind of value should I provide to make this generation of consumers genuinely feel it’s worth it?”

Conclusion

In recent years, stable and certain channels for business success have gradually disappeared. Nowadays, doing business has become both exhausting and challenging. Many have put in tremendous effort but still struggle to make ends meet. What used to be opportunities have turned into intense competition, and profits are shrinking as markets become saturated.

During such times, it’s natural to hope for an easy path, a way to gain without much effort, or a lifeline. This desire is understandable and relatable.

However, it’s essential to believe that as challenges mount, we should be willing to undertake more difficult tasks and tread on tougher paths. The easy road may become narrower with overuse, while the difficult one can lead to broader horizons.

Let’s hope that we all continue to broaden our horizons and engage in more profound thinking, focusing less on false questions and more on meaningful pursuits.

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