The questions we ask ourselves are as important as the answers. Good questions keep us focused, accountable, and in touch with how we're doing. This set of six essential questions can be used in any endeavor, either as they are or tailored for your specific circumstance.

As you work through the list, remember to be REAL: Recognize yourself. Express yourself. Ask questions. Listen for the answers.

Am I a good listener?

Listening is imperative to success: If you're not listening, you can't truly connect with your employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and creditors. Listening gives you input and information, so think about speaking less and listening more.

Do I welcome change?

Change is a given. If you hate change and resist becoming flexible and adaptable, you are risking your leadership, your products and services, your entire organization. Times are always changing, and you have to be agile and flexible. Learn how to welcome change and make it work for you.

Am I Developing my skills?

In today's competitive markets, being on top of your game is imperative. The skills that got you where you are aren't necessarily the ones that will keep you there. Make the time to develop your skills and learn new approaches and theories.

Do I make an effort to connect?

Connection is the lifeblood of any organization. If you are not connecting, you're losing out on the best way to know and understand your customers and employees. Make the time to connect and communicate to the stakeholders who are important to you.

Am I trying to achieve it all by myself?

The worst thing you can do is think you are going to do this all by yourself. If you want to grow, you have to collaborate. Make the time to actively look for those who can collaborate and help you grow your business. Seek out supports and mentors and coaches, and partners.

Am I creating the right culture?

Every organization has a culture, whether by intention or not. As a leader of your business, work to create a positive culture that supports creativity and growth. Make sure the culture is representative of what you want to achieve.

It's easy to get so caught up in everyday activity that you lose touch of what it is you're trying to create. Great questions slow you down, cause you to pause, to check in and see if you're where you would like to be.

Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to face them and the process of seeking out the answers that give meaning to life.

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