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The Power of A Question

Published 12/4/2017

In today's episode, we discuss the power of inquiry and Socratic question oriented thinking.

Today's episode is sponsored by Fuse! Build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration. Head over to spec.fm/fuse to learn more today!

New Promo Code: “dt” will give you listeners 70% off for 12 months. 70%!!! The code must be redeemed by December 31st 2017.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Why are questions so powerful? And similarly, how do we control our thoughts? That's what we're talking about in today's episode of Developer Tea. We've been discussing behavior change and how you may be able to affect behavior change in your own life and your own career and your own habits and also be able to use this in your jobs to be able to incite others to positive behavior change. That's what we're talking about in today's episode. This is a third episode on this kind of meta topic. We've talked about two more specific versions of behavior change or related specific topics to behavior change in the last two episodes of Developer Tea. But today we're talking about questions and why they're so powerful. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. The goal of this show is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose so they can have a positive impact on the people they have influence over. If you're in this group of people, then this question is relevant to you. You do care about behavior change. You do care about how you can become better and becoming better means changing. In order to change, you have to change how you act every single day. It's not just a momentary thing. It's not a decision that you make. It's a decision that is followed by action. That is the refinement process that we're all going through. We are all trying to become better. We're trying to learn and then act on that learning. Behavior change should be of utmost importance to any driven developer. Only anyone who's listening to this show, you're going to be able to get a lot out of this as well. What is the power of a question? To gain intuition for this, I could ask a very simple question for developers who run tests on a regular basis. How often do you plan to run your tests in the next three days? Perhaps a question that applies to virtually everyone. How often do you plan to floss next week? The amazing thing about these questions is that before I ask them, you may not have been thinking about those subjects at all. This goes back to the question that we asked in the intro. How do we control our thoughts? Very often, our thoughts are not necessarily something that we originate, but rather a response to some kind of input. They may be a response that is remixed of something that's already in your brain, so you may have had a picture of your testing environment or the way that you run tests popping your head, or you may have had a picture of your own bathroom sink when I asked you about flossing. These pictures would not likely have popped into your head at that exact moment. Had I not asked those questions? Some further intuition might inform us that when we ask a question, someone's first of instinct is to try to answer that question, right? Here's a person that someone is asking us a question, and immediately it goes into answer mode. How can I bridge the gap between what this person is asking of me and a reasonable response? Not only do you have these associations, these images that pop into your head when someone asks you a question, but if I ask you about your schedule specifically, then you're going to think about your plans for the next week. And something that you may not have necessarily planned to do, you now are imagining a future where you do those things. So we can kind of intuitively guess that questions are a powerful thing, but does it actually work? Has this been proven to work? Well, we're going to talk about that right after we talk about today's sponsor Fuse. Today's episode is sponsored by Fuse, and Fuse is providing them to go ahead and tell you up front a huge discount to you. If you choose to go forward with their premium plan, it's the professional plan, which is meant for people and teams who have steady income coming into their business, whether you're freelancer or if you have an agency or something like that, their professional plan is built for you. But because of the steep discount, it's worthwhile to consider it. Even if you don't necessarily have a massive income in that, especially if you're a developer in another area and you want to try out some new tools, maybe you're a web developer and you're trying to become a mobile application developer, then you can check out what Fuse has to offer for you. In this discount, it expires December 31st of this year, which is why I think it's a good idea to at least consider it. They're going to give you 70% off for 12 months if you use the code DT. What is Fuse? Fuse is an all-in-one platform that is actually moving mobile development forward. These platforms for mobile development, the environments for mobile development haven't really changed in a decade. Fuse is trying to change that. They've provided you with an all-in-one platform that works on Windows or Mac and you can build for Android and for iOS right in that platform. If you've ever used something like Unity for building games, that's kind of what Fuse is for mobile applications. Fuse officially went out of beta and into 1.0, so it's totally production ready at this point. With the professional plan, the paid plan that they have, you can also get a Fuse-built UI kit. This allows you to do things like premium charting and camera components. It has animation, navigation, all the stuff that you otherwise would have to try to put together yourself. Most people don't need the professional plan though. You can get started for free with Fuse today by going to FuseTools.com slash plans. Thank you again to Fuse for sponsoring today's episode and for moving mobile application development forward and creating new options for mobile application developers. We're talking about behavior change, we're talking about specifically the power of a question and we've discussed some of this intuition and as it turns out, this intuition was all actually laid out in Daniel Coneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow. But beyond that, Richard Thaler wrote a book called Nudge. In Nudge, he actually details specific examples of when a survey made a big difference to people's behavior. For example, if you wanted to increase voter turnout, one very simple way you can do that is by asking people the day before if they plan on voting. You don't even have to tell them to vote. If you simply ask them if they're going to vote, if they intend to vote, then you can get an increase in probability that they're going to go and vote by as much as 25%. Another study in Nudge details a 40,000 people that were asked the simple question, do you intend to buy a new car in the next six months? And just being asked this question increased the purchase rates by 35%. These are not the only studies. In fact, the specific question that I asked about flossing, that has been studied too. If you ask someone if they plan on flossing in the next week, if you ask people about their intentions specifically, those behaviors are going to change. If you ask people are going to floss, if you ask them whether they intend to consume fatty foods or not, people tend to consume less in the following week just because of this question. So the power of a question should not be underestimated. So what does this mean for you? Well number one, listening to this podcast hopefully provides you with some of these questions. Some behavior changing questions. I'll give you a few right now. In the next week, do you intend to read in order to learn something new? Have you set any long term goals for the next month? Do you intend to exercise by going to the gym or perhaps running outside in the next two weeks? These are simple questions that maybe you aren't necessarily going to think of on your own, but you can do things like listen to this podcast. But perhaps a more effective option is to actually have someone in your life, someone who knows your particular circumstances, someone that you can share your goals with that will then ask you these kinds of questions. You may consider this a mentor. You may consider it some people call them accountability partners. It may just be a friend of yours or it could be your direct leader or a colleague. Really this is kind of up to you, right? If you can find someone who will provoke you by asking you good questions, this is a proven method of changing your behavior. Now it's not going to be a silver bullet and really nothing is and it's also important to recognize that there are techniques that you can practice on your own. For example, you can set up yourself for a regular interrogation. You can do this by participating in some kind of daily journal activity. Maybe you have consistent questions that you ask yourself every single day. For example, in the five minute journal, this is one that I practice. What are you grateful for each and every day? Ask yourself that question. There's some reason behind why you would want to ask that particular question, but that interrogation is powerful. Creating yourself questions rather than simply stating things in your journal. The other journaling method you may want to consider is finding a journal that does this for you. Journal prompts are a pretty regular thing. Some of them are targeted towards creative writing. Some of them are targeted towards self-improvement. There is, for example, Ryan Holiday just came out with his daily stoic journal. This is an excellent resource if you're into the philosophy of stoicism. There's tons of options out there. The important thing is that you have these questions that are regularly inserted into your thought process. This is something that, as long as you're dedicated, you can find resources to do this on your own. It certainly is a good idea to consider doing this alongside someone else. Someone else who knows you personally, who knows what your goals are, can cultivate that with you. I highly recommend that you find someone that will sit down and talk with you about this stuff for 10, 20, 30 minutes a week. Really don't have to have a lot for this to be effective. Just asking the right kinds of questions is really the key here. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you want a whole list of these questions, actually an entire book, really full of these kinds of questions that will prepare you for an interview, but it will also prepare you to go into the rest of your career armed with a little bit more of an understanding of yourself, more of an understanding of your purpose as a developer, a way of looking at the world that is slightly different than perhaps you have today. If you're interested in that resource, the resource is called the Beyond Bootcamp Interview Week Prep Guide. It's totally free. You can find it at beyondbootcamp.io. All you have to do is enter your email. You'll get that PDF. It's 100-page PDF with exercises. There's even an exercise template there. I highly recommend, especially if you are early in your career that you go and check out this resource if you're preparing for an interview. This is an excellent resource. Even if you're well into your career, I think pretty much anyone can benefit from some of these questions that I ask in this book. Even if you become 1 or 2% better for glancing at this book, then isn't that worth that extra five minutes that you're going to spend downloading the PDF. Go and check it out beyondbootcamp.io. Thank you again for listening. Of course, you can continue listening to this show for very similar content. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes, make sure you subscribe from whatever podcasting app you use so you can join other driven developers on a path to connecting to your career purpose. Thanks again and until next time, enjoy your tea.