GURU: Let Experience Be Your Teacher

By Brian Remer

After any interaction or event, you can take a mental break and conduct an analysis of the immediate situation. To make it quick and comprehensive, here are four categories of questions you can use.


Ask questions to reveal the common ground of experiences. Zero in on thoughts and feelings. Identify emotional reactions. Encourage recall and reporting of major actions and experiences.

Sample questions: What were you thinking or feeling at the time? What was the sequence of events? What did people say and do? What is something that surprised you about what happened?


Ask questions to understand the situation in a larger context. Questions should highlight similarities and differences within and between events, ideas, or actions. Encourage the articulation and analysis of what was learned. Generalize and connect to other situations.

Sample questions: What was unusual about this situation? What other situations does this one remind you of? What did you learn from what happened?


Ask questions to encourage creativity about revising actions or attitudes. Encourage consideration of the best reaction if the situation or information had been slightly different. Ask about the thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors that would be changed if given the chance.

Sample questions: Knowing what you know now, what might you do differently if you encountered a similar situation in the future? How would your reaction have been different if you had had more time? What information would you be sure to seek the next time around? Which of your preconceptions might you examine for the future?


Ask questions about how to use the new insights just gained. Focus on questions about planning new actions. Encourage consideration of what could be done differently in a similar situation or how to apply this new learning in the near future.

Sample questions: What advice would you give to someone in a similar circumstance? What is a situation you anticipate in the next week where you could apply what you have learned? What is the single most effective thing you plan to do differently?

A Handy Acronym

Ground, Understand, Revise, Use—the first letters taken together spell GURU, a reminder of the guiding and mentoring qualities of these questions. Whether with a team or on your own, I encourage you to consult your GURU the next time you feel stuck, frustrated, or even successful! Then, please, share what you learned!