The Question

People who I have the privilege of working with will often hear me talk about the importance of high-powered questions. A high powered and carefully crafted question can be the gateway to a heart opening answer (or as Oprah calls it an Ah-Ha moment.)

A couple of weeks ago I was about to drive from Barcelona to Madrid, where I was planning to stay for three nights over the holiday season. Deciding that it would be easier to do a hotel than an AirBnB over this shorter time period, plus the fact that I had a good friend who could get me a Friends and Family rate at an incredible hotel for a really incredible price, I decided to splurge a little and treat myself. Hotel booked, then came the parking situation. The fact that the hotel was in the heart of Madrid would mean that the cost for three nights of parking would equal one night’s stay.

Driving in Europe is not for the faint of heart. While I was comfortable navigating the highways, the narrow and winding streets always make me feel a little anxious. Parking elevates that emotion to an entirely different level. 

My mind went back and forth, “Do I or don’t I spend this money to park at the hotel?” I spent several hours researching public parking near the hotel, asking friends who lived in Madrid their thoughts, while at the same time scrolling through reviews of each public parking lot. Many lost hours trying to find the answer to this question.

A wise friend of mine then asked a better question: “Are you looking for an optional source of parking from the mindset of ingenuity or scarcity?” 

That one question was the gateway to me finding the answer that I needed, and I immediately booked the hotel parking. After considering the risk of fines, having my leased car dinged in the small parking lots inside of the city, the fact I wanted to leave my large suitcase in the trunk, plus that it was going to be pouring with rain the entire time I was going to be in Madrid, this was a wise choice.

Neither answer would have been incorrect, but my actions may have been misguided had I not spent the time to understand the thought that triggered my choice. Was the thought behind my action “I am going to be creative and see what other parking I can find”, or “I should really try and save the extra 60 Euros and park outside of the hotel.”

I will often “save money” by taking the bus and local transport versus a Taxi. This to me is a way to really explore the city and each time I navigate where to purchase the tickets and how to navigate the metro or bus system in each country, I feel proud and accomplished.

I will cook for myself much more than dine out as I realized that while I love doing coffee and maybe a snack on my own as I travel, I actually prefer to cook for myself in the evenings.

I will participate in “free” and awesome meet-ups versus paying for a tour the majority of the time and occasionally and happily I will pay for a tour, when I believe I will discover more with a local guide than on my own. (I can always go back on my own should I want to spend more time in a certain spot.)   But all of those actions and decisions are driven by curiosity and possibility versus scarcity and worry.

So I hope you don’t think that I am sharing too much information when recently during my travels I asked myself the question, “Do I or don’t I purchase another roll of toilet paper ?”

I had two days remaining in Barcelona and I would guess around 1/3rd of a roll of toilet paper left. All I could find in the grocery stores were 4-8 rolls combined and to be honest I just didn’t want to pay for the rolls that were not going to come with me. While I have no problem bringing my favorite brand of oat milk from one country to the next, toilet paper is not my thing.

So imagine what it was thinking when at a public facility at a restaurant I was visiting on my second to last day I saw just what I needed. A brand new roll of ……..

And then the question, if I decide to take – ok steal this roll of paper, “Is this coming from a place of scarcity or ingenuity?” Not my finest moment for sure.

So a few moments later I walked out of the facility and back to my table with nothing extra in my hands but with a good chuckle to myself. 

So the next time you are feeling uncertain about an answer, be sure you are asking yourself the right questions, and leave the toilet paper where