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Here's another free excerpt from the Unleash the Artist Within four-week workshop:

Day 9: Harness the Power of Questions

We've all heard, time and time again, how important it is to communicate effectively with other people. No secret here. Whether it's speaking with a director, journalist, agent, your spouse or one of your own creative peers, the way you communicate can have a great impact on your life and success.

Unfortunately, most people fail to realize that what's even more important is the way you communicate with yourself. We've already covered positive attitudes and expanding your range of possibility thinking. But what we haven't touched on are the specific patterns you've developed in your mind to make sense of the world around you.

One of the most essential ways you process information and form opinions is through the specific questions you ask yourself on a regular basis. I must credit motivational speaker Anthony Robbins for bringing this aspect to my attention through his many fine books and audio programs.

Basically, Robbins points out that your brain works like a giant computer. It takes in and stores information, retrieves facts (in the form of memory) and operates effectively to the degree with which it was programmed.

Therefore, when you ask yourself a question, your brain assumes the question is valid and goes to work in search of an answer. When the answer is given, it becomes part of your view of the world and your place in it. The sad truth, though, is that too many people ask themselves faulty, failure-inducing questions.

How many times have you asked yourself, "Why does this always happen to me?" or "How can I be so stupid?" or "Why do I always end up on the short end of the stick?"

Ask yourself questions like these - especially when you're in a frustrated, emotionally degraded state - and your mind will look for answers. And most likely those answers will come screaming at you: "Because you're an idiot, because you have no talent, because the only way you'll ever make it in this business is to be a gofer getting coffee for other people."

Needless to say, this is not an effective way to communicate with yourself. The better approach is to ask positive, constructive questions. A couple of examples are "What can I learn from this experience?" or "How will I do things more effectively next time?" With upbeat, quality questions, your computer-like brain gives you answers that are infinitely more valuable to your success and well-being.

So the next time you're tempted to ponder a defeating thought, turn the question around. Here is a short list of weak questions and more powerful alternatives:

Weak: "How come I'm not landing any decent paying jobs this month?"

Powerful: "What can I do today to improve my personal income this month?"

Weak: "Why does my local arts scene throw up so many obstacles to success?"

Powerful: "What can I do to make the arts community in my city better?"

Weak: "Why is it so expensive to get this creative project off the ground?"

Powerful: "What options have I overlooked in getting this project done on a smaller budget?"

Monitor the quality of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis. This may be one of the best things you can do to adjust your attitude and get yourself on track. Start to ask better questions and you'll soon find yourself a lot further down the road to creative expression and accomplishment.

Commitment statement:

"The days of asking myself debilitating questions are over. Starting now, in good times and bad, I pose positive questions and reap the benefits of finding creative solutions and profitable ideas. In fact, I'll start by asking a good one now: What steps can I take today to move myself closer to my ultimate goal of creative success?"

Today's Action Step

Take your journal with you everywhere you go today. When you catch yourself asking a negative, self-defeating question, write it down.

Then rewrite the question, turn it on its head and transform it into a question that empowers you -- a question that puts the focus on finding solutions, not voicing empty complaints.

Use the examples listed earlier in this section to get started. But, ultimately, your quality questions must reflect the areas of negativity in which you need the most work, as well as the areas in which you desire the most amount of growth. So start listening to yourself ... and transform yourself into a positive-questions powerhouse.

From here you can: