BYU Inspiring Short: The Power of Not Knowing | Liz Wiseman

Liz Wiseman at right tells teh story of when she was a young mother dealing with bedtime routines. Also pictured, a mom reads a book with her young children.

When a young mother of three is challenged to ask questions rather than deliver commands, the shift did more than transform a bedtime routine—it taught divine truth. In the latest inspiring short from BYU Speeches, eminent author and executive advisor Liz Wiseman says, “One of the most powerful shifts we can make as a leader is to shift from a place of knowing and to operate from a place of inquiry.” It’s a change, she explains, that can improve life at work and at home.


Inspiring Short: The Power of Not Knowing | Liz Wiseman – powered by Happy Scribe

One of the most powerful shifts we can make as a leader is to shift from this place of knowing and to operate from a place of inquiry. My husband and I, we have four children, but 1213 years ago, it was a mere three children, ages six, four and two. And I was talking to my buddy Brian at work, and we were just commiserating about some of our parenting challenge. And I said, you know, Brian, I feel like I’ve become like a little dictator in my house. I become a bossy mom.

And Brian acted very surprised by this. And he said, Liz, you don’t strike me as a bossy mom. I said, Let me describe bedtime at our house. And if you have the six four two combo pack at your house, you know exactly what this is like. It’s okay, kids, time for bed.

Put that away. Go over here, help your sisters get your pajamas on. No, no, the tag goes in the back. Turn that around. Go brush your teeth.

Go back, use toothpaste. Time for a book. Get a book. Not that book. No big books, not five books.

No princess books. Okay, give me a little book. Good. Story time. Done.

Say your prayers. Get into bed. Not my bed. Out of her bed. Back to bed.

Go to sleep. And, and there’s no yelling. It’s just constant telling, night after night. And so Brian says, why don’t you go home tonight and try speaking to your children only in the form of questions. And I went on about the ridiculous nature of this task and how this was going to be about 4 hours before I could get them to bed.

And I then became really intrigued by this challenge. And I decided I would take this challenge. I’ve come to call it the Extreme Question Challenge, and I would take it to its extreme. Nothing but questions would come out of my mouth. And we did.

And dinner was interesting, and playtime was interesting. When we got to bedtime, I said, Kids, what time is it? And they said bedtime. I David. What do we do first?

Where does that go? Who needs help getting their pajamas on? Who’s going to be the first to brush their teeth? Okay, whose turn is it to pick the story? What story are we going to read?

Who’s going to read the story, mom or dad? And then it was, okay, what do we do when story time is over? And they said, well, we pray, because they knew. And then my last question was, okay, who’s ready for bed? Me.

Pick me. Pick me. And they went and they got in their beds, and they stayed in their beds. And I’m left in the hallway simply to wonder, how long have they known how to do this? I learned that when I asked the questions, other people found answers.

And I learned that at work. When I asked the questions, people really didn’t need me telling them what to do. They needed me to ask an intelligent question.

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