Diary of a Franchisee — Wrong Questions = Wrong Answers (Entry #2)

I’ve always been a trainer regardless of the role I’ve played. As such, I’ve believed that there are no stupid questions. While this may be true, the way we pose questions can lead us to the wrong answers. During the last 12 months, my questions have certainly misled me and added to my anxiety, instead of providing the solutions and possibilities I have been seeking.

I have a basic need to know, learn, and grow that has been my rudder throughout my life. Questions have always provided an avenue to acquire knowledge and information. And, as a Coach, I certainly know the power of questions, yet during this time of fear and uncertainty, I’d forgotten the simple principle that if I ask the wrong questions, I get the wrong answers.

From the moment I decided to become a franchisee, I’ve dealt with the fear brought by one central question: “what if I fail?” This question is a dangerous one, even when it’s just a thought among many others of confidence and trust that I will succeed. To many people this question seems like a reasonable matter to ponder, but its danger comes from the thoughts and feelings it triggers.

We ask questions for many reasons, such as:

  • To gain understanding and knowledge
  • To find solutions and answers, and to make the right decisions
  • To eliminate confusion
  • To gather facts and information
  • To discover a different way

However, especially when we are fearful, we may ask questions for different reasons, such as:

  • To create or feed fear
  • To validate our thinking
  • To find blame
  • To prevent us from making a decision
  • To prove we are right

Besides “What if I fail?” I have been asking other wrong questions that I mentioned in my previous post, such as:

  • Why in the hell did I do this?
  • Will this ever work?
  • Why can’t I get traction?
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • What if the franchisor wasn’t completely open with me? What if only I heard what I wanted to hear?

These questions arise from fear and raise my cortisol and adrenaline levels – the stress hormones. They keep me in the fear center of the brain (the amygdala). I’ve had to learn to change the questions to allow for richer more productive thoughts to take hold so I could start seeing the possibilities. When we change our questions, we change our perception. And, when we change our perception, we change our reality. In most instances, we can modify the questions, and thus create positive transformation. However, some questions need to be tested, and sometimes, simply discarded –at least for a while. For example, I have learned to reframe these questions as follows:

  • How can I succeed? Instead of “what if I fail?”
  • What are the reasons I had when I decided to buy this franchise? What are my whys? How have they changed? What are my new ‘whys’? Instead of “why in the hell did I do this”
  • What do I have to do to make this work? Instead of “will this ever work?”
  • How can I get traction? Instead of “why can’t I get traction?”
  • What am I doing right? What can produce better results? How can my previous success help me in this new situation? Instead of “what’s wrong with me?”
  • How are these questions serving me right now? I used this test to discard the following questions: “what if the franchisor wasn’t totally open with me?” and “what if I only heard what I wanted to hear?” 

My process:

Today I am using the following process to ask better questions, to change my perception, and thus produce better results.

  1. Aware – I become aware of how a question makes me feel, the thoughts it triggers, and the subsequent questions it produces.
  2. Believe – I believe there is a better way, always. I believe that my feelings guide me.
  3. Choose – I choose not to let fear take over — for this to be effective I have to change my narrative.
  4. Detach – I detach from my expectations and allow the process to unfold while still doing the activity to produce the desired results. (This is easier said than done.)
  5. Engage – I engage in the right activities and recognize that sometimes the right work is internal.
  6. Find – I find the better feeling thought, a better question. Sometimes this only requires me to ask: What’s a better question?
  7. Give – As I focus on others and on gratitude, I create a shift that directly impacts my results and my entire life.

This process helps me move from frustration and anxiety to curiosity, gratitude, and right action. The right questions open up opportunities for me that I did not see before. They are yielding the right answers; and sometimes they are teaching me that, at a particular moment, some questions have no answers, and for many or most, there are more than one correct answer.

What questions are you asking yourself? What are better questions? Think of






  1. joe mathews says

    Hi Lizette. I often ask myself “what if I fail?” I need to do the math to make sure the answer is “I survive and move on”. I experience probably more fear than most, so it serves me well to look my monsters in the face. I also define failure as well as success before I start. so I don’t stay on it too long. As I get mired in the day to day I find failure and success benchmarks and sign posts set in advance helpful

    • Great points as usual, Joe!!! When I am most uncomfortable, I always think of you because something you used to say… paraphrasing now “I seek to be uncomfortable every day.” That has always inspired me 🙂

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