Lead with Questions

Recently, I asked a wise 12-year old girl who’s headed into Middle School for the first time if I could ask her a few questions about life. 

She of coursed asked, “How long will this take? I’m watching re-runs of the bachelorette.” 

I kind of chuckled and told her to enjoy her show and find me whenever she was ready to chat.

About 30 minutes later, we had the most interesting Q&A conversation.  I’ve summarized her responses below in bullet points. 

Let this Q&A be a reminder to all of us how important is to lead with questions when we are in a position to lead others.  If we are going to help others succeed and be the best that they can be, we need to first understand who and where they are.

What’s the wisest thing you’ve learned in your first 12 years?

·        Fear is just another reason to try harder.

·        If you don’t do it… it won’t get done.

·        You never know what you can do, unless you push your limits.

What are you most excited about in your next 12 years?

·        Taking more advanced classes and learning more.

·        The ability to drive so I can go where I want.

·        To travel more and experience new things.

What fears do you feel the most in your life?

·        I fear not doing well in school and that I’ll have a tough time.

·        I fear that something might happen to my mom when she is away.

·        I fear that my pets are getting older and I’m going to lose them some day.

What are you most grateful for these days?

·        I’m grateful that I get to go to school.

·        I’m grateful for food on my plate and a roof over my head.

·        I’m grateful for my friends.

·        I’m grateful for my sisters.

·        I’m grateful for gymnastics.

·        I’m grateful for my health.

·        I’m grateful for animals.

·        I’m grateful for the people in my life

Isn’t it cool that your grateful list was quickly longer than your fear list?

·        Yes

What do you believe your unique strength is?

·        I can think quick on my feet.

·        I pay attention to what’s going on around me.

·        My brain works fast.

What keeps you confident in yourself?

·        The people around me believe in me.

·        When I focus on what I do and practice, my skills get better.

What things make you nervous?

·        That I’ll hurt myself in gymnastics.

·        Losing something I love.

What advice would you give your 5-year-old self?

·        Never give up on yourself.

·        Life doesn’t come easy.  You need to work for it.

What bugs you about what you see on the internet?

·        People seem to be unfair or unkind to each other too often.

·        People are judging each other based on their skin, beliefs and backgrounds.  Racism.

What goals have you set for yourself this year?

·        To do well in school with good grades.

·        Get better in gymnastics.

·        Take better care of my body.

What’s the secret to growing up in today’s world?

·        Don’t rely on technology – rely on yourself and your brain.  (<-- I liked that answer!)

·        Work for what you want – don’t just sit around.

·        Be yourself – don’t change for anyone.

·        Don’t judge a book by its cover.

·        Be kind to everyone you meet.

How would you change school today?

·        Longer lunch breaks.

·        Remove the harsh teachers who always seem to be grumpy.

·        Have teachers who focus on being helpful.

What piece of advice would you give adults working with 12-year olds?

·        Keep life fun.  Teach fun.  Have fun.

·        But still get the work done.

What concerns you most about our world?

·        Global warming.

·        We are destroying our planet – where will we live?

What sort of big world type problems do you and your friends talk about?

·        Hackers on Instagram.

·        Companies that are harming animals or the environment.

What do you think 12-year old boys would think about these questions?

·        Yuck… ummm... I don't know...

·        Actually… no girl is going to like you if you just sit around.  Get off of the video games and do something.

·        Wait, what was the question?

What is your personal motto?

·        Hakuna Matata


As we wrapped up, I thought, wow, what an interesting and thoughtful conversation that was.  She’s going to be a strong leader someday.  She already is.

Granted, these are not going to be the thoughts and answers for every 12-year old in the world today.  Every young mind will be in a different place in life based on their unique moments, experiences and the influences in their life.  That’s life, right?!  No two people are the same and no two people are on the same journey.

Regardless, to lead, parent, teach, coach and build confidence in those around us, we must first understand those that we are responsible for leading. 

When we create a safe environment for individuals to share what they believe, what they are thinking about, how they perceive themselves, and where they are going…. we then position ourselves to lead with confidence.  We are in a stronger spot to lean in and help them grow.

When we focus on helping others grow, the returns are priceless! 

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