Sharpen The Pencil With These Cutting Questions

Rowan Blair Colver
4 min readDec 7, 2020


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B Colver

Asking the right questions can be difficult. Am I helping or hindering with these requests for information and perspective? The right questions are often the most difficult and yet if we avoid them, we can miss our full potential. Inquiring as to someone’s favourite colour and team can be helpful when looking to make friends but when we are working on a creative or business venture, it’s more important to stick to the principles of the job at hand. Let’s look at some questions that can help us to improve our product and methods.

In what areas are you confident but have had little training?

Naturally, you will be good at things without having to study in-depth. At the professional level, there are certain methods and reasons which can’t be learned through imitation. A knack can give you confidence which in turn manifests as a level of persuasion. However, we can miss vital marks because we are not aware of what we are actually doing. Look at where you are strong and complement those areas with foundations built on the wisdom of others.

What are you thinking but unsure about saying?

Sometimes an impression can be given that a certain topic is to be ignored or a particular perspective should be discounted. By not talking about something openly it can appear to others that it isn’t worth saying. Being the first to say something that’s on your mind will give others an impetus to say similar things. Sometimes it’s important to be tactful in how we communicate unusual points of view and counter-complimentary facts. Being the first to say something often means building a bridge piece by piece that gradually takes others to where you are coming from.

Can you define yourself simply and accurately?

Whether you like it or not, people like to have order and predictability in their lives. We naturally assign mental codes to phenomena that help us order our world. A veneer of language coats the everyday existence we live in which in turn points to a coat of symbolic placements of cause, effect, and relevance. The better definition that we can project of ourselves will help others to neatly assign us in their mental and symbolic perceptions.

What do other people see in you?

This is difficult to answer, especially if those around us don’t communicate these things. We have to imagine from a perspective that isn’t on our natural good side. The opinions of others will be tools for them to feel good about their own lives and so it can be quite common for your behaviours and choices to become examples of comparison that serve to make others look better than you in some way. We have to recognise these opportunities and limit them as much as possible. The taller you stand, the more people can bounce their ball from you.

What have you already gained because of who you are and what you do?

You’ve no doubt worked extremely hard for many years. You have clearly created a direction for yourself that you nurture and adapt as the years go by. This life journey will be lined with achievements. Rather than simply comparing our achievements to those who did a seemingly better job, which is what we usually do in order to look for improvement opportunities, we can also be content with what we have done. By rising above our previous selves with gains in all dimensions of our lives and being aware of our progress, we can manifest a stronger sense of direction and confidence.

Why you?

You are just one person among many. And yet, you are a unique individual. Your story has carried you this far, your imagination has foreseen the opportunities that have led you down this path. Combined, your personality is your greatest asset. So why is this? By drawing on metaphor and realism, we can draw from our education, culture, and upbringing to navigate this question. Who do we feel affiliated to, and which personality traits in history can we relate to? What do we actually want to do with our lives and how does this relate to what we are doing now? Hopefully, these questions will serve to make you more determined to put your stamp on the world.

How will I project all this to those around me?

Our words and actions have to match. With these often abstract concepts discussed in this article, it can be a difficult challenge to communicate these answers to others. We have to be a physical example of our thinking. Our actions have to line up with our ideas. Sometimes we have differences in how we behave and how we say we want to behave. There are clashes of psychology at play in which our automatic responses work against our intellectual ones. Learned behaviour and learn-ed behaviour need to be balanced with continual conscious decision making.



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.