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If You Want Success: Stop Asking These Questions


LaTara Ham-Ying - Integrated Success BloggerIn my last post we looked at a few questions that you must ask yourself in order to succeed. This week let’s reverse it a bit and discover a couple of questions that a woman in business should never ask herself.

How can I make so and so do such and such?

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.”
~Lou Holtz

One of the most common misunderstandings we have as humans is in our belief that we have the ability to change other people. We somehow think that through punishment, force, reward, or just plain strength of will, we can change other people.

We see this all the time: Women attempt to change boyfriends and husbands, parents try to change their kids, and coworkers try to change each other. But somehow even if we realize short term success, it’s never long-lasting. Ask any parent who’s tried to force a baby to eat strained peas. Even if you get them into the mouth, they’re likely coming right back out again.

And that’s why we need to put a stop to asking the following question:
How can I make so and so do such and such?

The simple answer is, you can’t. Maturity – along with happiness – come when we realize that the only person we can truly change is ourselves. Even then we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do it the right way. When we start focusing our efforts there, things just seem to naturally adjust.

Harriet Lerner, a respected psychologist, has written a series of books on relationships. Her hypothesis is that relationships are dances of sorts, and just as in a mambo or a waltz, if one partner changes how he or she is moving, the other has to adjust. The key to creating a change in the relationship, then, is to look at your own behaviors and actions and change them.

You might be wondering why you have to do all the work. After all, if your spouse would stop drinking or your boss would stop nitpicking or your kids would just act a little more respectful, life would be great. That may be true, but here’s the key: You can’t do anything about their actions. You can only work on you. And the sooner you face that and accept it, as disappointing and unfair as it may be, the sooner you’ll be on the path to a healthier relationship.

Acceptance can be tough, so tough, in fact, that it can keep people caught up in broken relationships and dead-end jobs for decades. Instead of asking how you can make the other person change, then, you need to ask yourself what you’re willing to do to be happy. The changes required on your behalf may be far less radical than you think.

Whose fault is it?

Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.”
~Francis Bacon

As Sir Francis says, asking questions is a good thing. But you have to ask the right questions – ones that empower you and open your possibilities. Unfortunately, some questions do just the contrary. Instead of making you think more productively, they shut down the flow of energy, making you defensive and angry. One such question that fits the bill is:

Whose fault is it?

This question is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It seems kind of harmless at first. After all, once we know at whose feet we can lay the broken valve, the lost account, or the argument at, we can make sure it never happens again.

Perhaps! However, laying blame isn’t the important thing: solving the problem is. Playing the blame game causes issues far beyond any benefit:

  1. The blame game is a time waster. While you could be concentrating on fixing the problem, you’re running around trying to make someone else the bad guy.
  2. The blame game is an energy waster. Knowing who is at fault isn’t really all the important; knowing how to fix the problem is. Sure, it can get you off the hook (“I swear, it wasn’t me!”) but it doesn’t fix the issue at hand.
  3. The blame game damages relationships. Trying to put the blame on someone else can damage your relationships to a point of no return. Trust wanes, and people start worrying about covering their rear ends rather than working together.

It’s normal to want to direct negative attention elsewhere, but it isn’t really necessary. In fact, the most powerful people on any team are those who solve problems rather than those who never cause any.

Not only will you strengthen your role as an important team member when you focus on solutions rather than problems, you also gain the trust of you’re the others on your team. They become more willing to take risks, to be open, and to help you out because they know you’re going to do the same for them. This makes for a stronger team all around.

If you are working with others who try to focus on blame-laying, call a time-out. Remind them that the important thing in the moment is to solve the problem, and that you can go back later to find out why it happened and who was at fault. But you may very well find that once the problem is solved, no one wants to revisit the issue. Perfect! That keeps the focus on moving forward, rather than on going back.


“For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?”
James Allen

As we’ve discussed, questions are powerful tools, but, if the right ones are not asked, they can steer you off track. It’s vital to examine the questions you ask to see if you’re empowering yourself or limiting your ability to think in a more creative manner.

Many of these internal discussions are so habitual; we don’t even realize they’re going on. It’s my hope that these two blog posts will help you by bringing these internal dialogs into the light, where you can make a judgment about their usefulness.

Many people spend their lives “living the questions,” as Rainer Maria Rilke put it so eloquently. May all your questions be empowering ones.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LaTara Ham-Ying is the Founder of Integrated Woman Ministries; a coaching ministry that focuses on helping the work at home woman develop transforming life concepts for a better business from the inside out. Offering membership options, workshops for life and business, and a mastermind group focused on Christ, it is the goal of Integrate Woman Coaching Ministries to help women work from home successfully! Learn more about IWM by visiting


  1. Beth says:

    Excellent points. It’s harder than it looks, lol, but the sooner we realize the truth and deal with it, the better.

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