It’s not about the answer.
Answers are overrated.
Questions are more important than answers because of the PROCESS they initiate. For example:
1. It’s about POINTING to a variety of solutions. There’s usually more than one answer. And limiting yourself to a sole-solution is a dangerous barrier to creative thinking and effective problem solving. How many right answers are you willing to accept?
2. It’s about STIMULATING thinking. You can’t un-ring a bell, and you can’t step into the same river twice. Once a question has been asked, it’s out there. And it’s almost impossible NOT to start looking for an answer. How quickly are you getting the ball rolling?
3. It’s about FORWARDING the exploration and discovery process. Not destination; process. Journey. Path. After all, the word “question” is rooted with the word “quest.” So, one of the reasons you ask questions is to give people – yourself included – permission to commence searching. What’s preventing you from following your curiosity?
4. It’s about INSTILLING a foundation of wonderment. Even calling the process “questioning” seems too narrow. Wonderment is better. It’s more expansive, more attitude-based and deeply rooted in curiosity. Are you questioning or wondering?
5. It’s about CATAPULTING someone into new territory. Somewhere their mind has never ventured. Somewhere their curiosity has never visited. Somewhere their creativity has never attempted. It’s like running on the same path every day. You eventually build up enough endurance to extend the run by a few miles. This will result in the exposure to adventurous terrain you’ve never seen before … which is very healthy. Where will this question take you that you’ve never been before?
6. It’s about EVOKING deeper thought. For the person you ask the questions to AND for yourself. This process is similar to yoga. You ease deeper and deeper into the posture as you practice, each time creating new muscle memory in your body. Stretching. Growing. Expanding. How are you creating new (mental) muscle memory?
7. It’s about SLOWING someone down. Throwing a wrench into the gears of the conversation and making someone stop completely. And they pause for a moment; staring at you like you’re crazy, wondering where the hell that question just came from. But more importantly, they start thinking about where the hell that question just took them. How are you violating people’s expectations?
8. It’s about CUTTING through to the heart of the issue. Some questions hurt. They slice deep. And they might even cause people laugh in that sort of “collar-loosening-eye-shifting-AH-CRAP-you’re right” kind of way. Are you willing to cut gently?
REMEMBER: Answers are overrated. Questions are more important because of the PROCESS they initiate.
In the words of Dr. House: "When you run out of questions, you don’t just run out of answers, you run out of hope."
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
It’s not about the answer.