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Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams

From the title alone, I was drawn to reading Marilee Adam’s book – Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.

That’s why I need to reveal something to you that feels a bit more like I’m coming out of the closet… It’s about my obsession with questions.

There, I’ve said it.

My love for questions. This obsession has been going on for over 20 years. I’ve spent my life simply gathering questions. 

There are at least ten reasons why I love questions:

  1. Often they reveal more about the questioner than the answerer.
  2. Guide you to have better conversations.
  3. Open doors that may have been previously closed
  4. Give you tremendous insights into people, places, and things.
  5. Shed more light on the brilliance or not so brilliant questioner. 
  6. Give you access to knowledge to help propel you forward.
  7. Shape your thinking, emotions, and actions.
  8. It can often open your curiosity to expand your mind.
  9. Help you improve your communication and develop deeper relationships
  10. Lead you to shift from a critical mindset to being more curious and open-minded

I’ve banked so many questions that I put them into three of my favorite categories: (If you are interested in access to any of these, simply write me a comment, or go to the contact page and reach out.)

Best Hiring Interviewer and Interviewee questions – I’ve created and added to this for over 20 years. It has helped me get several 9/5 jobs over the years and also helped me hire some amazing people.

Best Influencer Interview Questions for Podcasts & More – These were terrific when I was being interviewed on a podcast or interviewing someone. They are unique and different. Not the same old boring questions everyone asks.

Best Testimonial Questions – Getting a client or customer to write a testimonial can be like pulling teeth sometimes. I’ve always created a questionnaire to send them to fill out. This way, they don’t have to write a testimonial out of thin air. They answer my questions, and that is my testimonial.

Plus, I created a product I sold years ago – Creating Amazing Surveys. The goal was to help people get better data and research information to develop courses, products, events, and more. That’s why I had thousands of questions and many examples of surveys. 

This brings me back to Marilee Adam’s book – Change Your Questions, Change Your Life and why I highly recommend it.

She focuses in-depth on how you can change your life by changing the questions you ask yourself. 

Her book is total brilliance because it’s about shifting your perspective and thought patterns to create a life of greater happiness and success.

What I truly loved about this book is when you change the questions you ask yourself, how it profoundly impacts your life because you’re also changing your thoughts, attitudes, and outcomes. 

Some good examples she gives are:

Common negative question patterns you can get stuck in such as “Why is this happening to me?” or “What’s wrong with me?” 

She shows you that asking different, more positive, and solution-focused questions can lead to more productive and fulfilling responses. Hence the title of the book – Change Your Questions, Change Your Life!

A Book Summary to Inspire You To Read It!

Quick Summary: This is a practical and accessible guide for improving your thinking and life. By providing a framework for changing the questions you ask yourself, the book gives you the tools to break negative patterns of thought and create greater happiness and success. This is not just about questions like my obsession. This book focuses on changing your perspective by asking different questions about yourself and others. It’s a guide to changing your life. 

Who Ought to Read this Book: I’d highly recommend this. If you’re anything like me and want a guide to help you shift your mind and your thinking, this book is for you. This book doesn’t feel at all like a “self-help” book. It’s geared toward Leaders, coaches, and entrepreneurs. Adam’s gives you 12 powerful tools that will help guide you to think differently. 

She has some terrific real-world examples and exercises to help you put her method into practice. It emphasizes the importance of being intentional about the questions you ask and encourages you to embrace the process of continuous learning and growth. It also helps you create more curiosity, which is critical to growth and happiness. 

Things You Will Discover:

Adams includes 12 tools for changing your questions and thought patterns. These are designed to help you shift from limiting and negative questions to more productive and solution-focused questions. 

The 12 tools below are designed to work together to help shift your thought patterns and create greater success and happiness in your work and your life.

  1. The Question Thinking Map: This helps you identify and categorize your questions into four categories: judgmental, closed, open, and curious.
  2. Reframing: It teaches you how to turn limiting questions into more productive ones.
  3. The Q-Sort: This will help you prioritize your questions and focus on the most important ones.
  4. The Question of the Day: It encourages you to start each day by asking yourself a positive, solution-focused question.
  5. The Reality Check: This tool will help you evaluate your assumptions and beliefs to ensure they are in alignment with reality.
  6. The Question Awareness Log:  Guides you to keep track of your questions and how they impact your thinking and behavior.
  7. The Why? Game: Helps you explore the reasons behind your questions and uncover underlying assumptions.
  8. The Five Whys: Assists you in digging deeper into your questions to uncover the root cause of your thinking.
  9. The Question-to-Action Ratio: This will guide you to balance your focus on your questions and actions.
  10. The Question-Action-Result Feedback Loop: This tool helps you track the results of your actions and adjust your thinking and behavior accordingly.
  11. The Meta-Question: Guides you to take a step back and to reflect on your whole questioning process.
  12. The Question of Possibility: Encourages you to focus on possibilities and opportunities rather than limitations and problems.

Adams also created a very handy – Choice Map. It’s a cool visual tool representing the two mindsets – Learner and Judger. And within each, there are 2 core categories of questions people tend to ask themselves. It will help you become more aware of the types of questions that you’re asking yourself and guides you to choose more productive questions.


  1. Closed questions: Limit your thinking and are often phrased as “Can’t,” “Don’t,” or “Shouldn’t.”
  2. Judgmental questions: Are phrased as criticism or judgment and focus on blame, guilt, or shame.


  1. Curious questions: Create exploration and are open-ended, solution-focused, and curious.
  2. Open questions: These encourage creativity, innovation, and new possibilities.

By moving away from closed and judgmental questions, and instead focusing on more open and curious ones, you’ll be able to broaden your perspective and improve your outcomes. 

The Choice Map can be an effective tool for transforming your thought patterns and ultimately improving your life.

Some good practice – Think of a situation when you were frustrated or stuck and wanted something to change.

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself to help you shift:

  1. What do I want?
  2. What assumptions am I making?
  3. What am I responsible for?
  4. How else can I think about this?
  5. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?
  6. What am I missing or avoiding?
  7. What can I learn — from this person, situation, mistake, failure, or from this success?
  8. What questions should I ask myself and/or others?
  9. How can I turn this situation into a win-win situation?
  10. What’s possible?
  11. What are my choices?
  12. What action steps make the most sense?


Your Quality Of Life Will Improve:
“The quality of our lives depends on the quality of the questions we ask ourselves and others.”

It’s About Unlocking Your Potential:
“Questions are the keys that unlock our potential.”

Leave Judgment Out of It:
“Judgmental questions close doors, while learner questions open them.”

Curiosity Opens the Mind:
“Questions invite curiosity and curiosity opens doors to learning and growth.”

Create An Invitation:
“When you ask a question, you invite a conversation.”

Be An Effective Communicator:
“Inquiry is the cornerstone of effective communication and leadership.”

It’s About Your Beliefs Shaping Reality:
“Your beliefs shape your questions, and your questions shape your reality.”

Be Curious About Learning:
“In the face of adversity, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this?'”

Look at New Possibilities:
“Learner questions are not just about getting answers. They are about generating new possibilities.”

It’s About Practice:
“The more you practice asking learner questions, the more they become a natural part of your thinking and communication.”

Be The Observer: “There’s no good or bad, no right or wrong here. There’s just observing what happens and what you do with what happens.” 

No Interpretation or Judgment: “… a key part of Question Thinking – is to change your questions and change your thinking. Change your thinking, change your results…. You simply notice whatever moods, thoughts, and behaviors are going on, without interpretation or judgment.” 

About the Author: Dr. Marilee Adams

Dr. Marilee Adams is an award-winning author and pioneer in the fields of inquiry-based coaching, leadership, and organizational culture. She is the founder and CEO of Inquiry Institute, the originator of the Question Thinking™ methodologies, and a consultant, executive coach, and keynote speaker. Marilee is the author of the internationally bestselling book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, as well as The Art of the Question and Teaching that Changes Lives.

Get Your Copy:

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams

Other Books You Might Be Interested In:

  1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
  3. Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R Hawkins
  4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
  5. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

Soulfully Yours,

Shannon McCaffery

Shannon McCaffery

Strategic Marketing Coach & Consultant

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Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams


Hey there, I'm Shannon! Being a voracious reader and passionate about learning, I started this site in the hopes of sharing my thoughts and my love of inspiring nonfiction books that can help you. It's kind of like Buddha meets business. I truly hope you enjoy!

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