He knows that, as an entrepreneur, you’re trying to shove as much information into your brain as you can, and to do it as fast as possible. He knows that is frustrating, especially in our current moment of great change, because you can never move as fast as the things that come at you: Emails pile up, reports go unread, people are waiting for you, your industry is evolving, your world is shifting, and all the while you’re bombarded with noise and distractions and Slack pings and it’s why you’re waking up early and grabbing your phone and responding to everyone right away, as if that’ll actually stem the tide, which it will not.
A dominant question is the thing we keep asking ourselves, over and over throughout our day. It’s what drives our decisions in the moment and focuses our obsessions when we’re alone. It feels permanent — but Jim Kwik says it is not. Kwik was recently going through this exercise with a friend of his, and they realized her dominant question was: “How do I get people to like me?” This explained a lot about her. “You can imagine her personality, ” Kwik says. “She’s self-deprecating, her personality changes depending on who she’s with, and people take advantage of her.”
This is a habit we’re programmed to have. “We all have a part of our brain called the reticular activating system, and that helps determine what you focus on,” Kwik says. “People don’t realize this, but our brain primarily is a deletion device. We’re trying to keep information out. If you paid attention to the billion stimuli around you, you would go stark raving mad. The only things that come through that filter are the things that are important to us, that are charged by the questions we ask. Because ask and you shall receive.”
Focus begins in the morning, Kwik says. And most entrepreneurs destroy it by reaching for their phones.
“When you wake up, you’re in this relaxed state of awareness — it’s the most relaxed you’ll feel the entire day,” he says. “When you pick up your device, you’re rewiring your brain for two things — for distraction, and then something even worse, reaction.”