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How One Question Can Reformat Your Thinking and Your Life

After I had finished my undergraduate and graduate degrees in May 1990, I felt very accomplished, and certainly I had accomplished a lot in the academic world and music. I was 24 years old and I had just landed a job at a major university, at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Two years later I landed an even larger job at the University of Arizona, where I stayed until 1997. During my 3 degrees over 6 years from 1984 – 1990, I asked myself questions, yet they were always from one perspective; that of a future band director. From 1990 – 1997, I asked myself plenty of questions, all from the perspective of… you guessed it… a band director. I have many friends and colleagues who are band directors, and they do a fantastic job of impacting the lives of many young adults in public schools and universities. I’m a big fan of these individuals and the work they engage. I’m an even bigger fan of why they do the work. My point is not to place limits or judgement on anything or anyone. My point in this blog is to highlight the fact that I was seeing things from one perspective.

One perspective, or a few, can lead to us seeing the world, and our life, in a way which can begin to constrict our perceived choices and our chosen actions.

Since 1997, I began to look at all opportunities as viable. Because of this I began to attract a broad group of individuals into my life who helped me think anew. Where I would have in the past seen obstacle, I began to see challenge. Where I had seen roadblock, I now began to see an interesting dirt path of too the side of the road.

  • I found myself no longer looking for roads.
  • I found myself looking for the horizon.
  • I found a way.

I have written plenty of concrete personal development blogs and educational blogs. This is not one of those. This blog is more conceptual, and perhaps one of my most important ones. No matter the circumstance, I encourage you to ask yourself one question, which I learned from one of greatest of mentors, Mimi Chenfeld:

What Else?

I am not encouraging you to ask yourself this question with a sense of desperation or discontent, but rather, ask it with a sense of curiosity. Ask yourself “What Else?” with a sense of wonder, and allow yourself to explore multiple perspectives in any moment. I ask myself this question related to many areas of my life, including, but not limited to:

  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Cooking for my family and friends
  • Spiritual life
  • Career

Think about what your own response might be to the question, “What Else?” when asked in different settings in your life. For me, my responses have led to:

  • Broader thinking
  • Healthier mindset
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved relationships
  • A more inclusive approach to life
  • An improved quality of life
  • A flourishing career

I leave you with the nudge and encouragement to ask yourself this one question.

Peace and Abundance