Over the weekend I watch the movie Walk the Line about June Carter and Johnny Cash.  Johnny was an unlikely star, singing about shooting men and prisons in an era where wholesome gospel ballads were more popular. He may not have been in the music business at all, let alone sold 90 million albums, had it not been for the risk-taking and keen observation talents of Sam Phillips.

Cash persuaded Phillips to audition him for a record. When Cash’s initial song failed to impress Phillips, he gave Cash a second chance to perform “something real.”  “If you were hit by a truck and lying in a gutter, and had time to only sing one song to let God know what you felt about your time here on Earth,” Phillips asked, “What one song would sum you up?” Cash debuted what would become Folsom Prison Blues and the rest is history.

But what if Phillips would have ended the audition after the gospel song? Or failed to ask the question that prompted Cash to perform his brand of music? Personally I wound up doing one of the most exciting projects of my career because someone asked: “How do you do your job differently than other people who have your job?” It’s far different than just asking “What do you do?”

Often the magic is in the questions that are asked as much as in the answers. Take the time to dig deeper in your next conversation. The right question may yield a reply that uncovers greatness you did not know was in front of you.

beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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