NaBloPoMo 2021: Do Good, Kid
What one habit do you really wish all people would practice more?
What difference would it make to humanity if we did?
How could/would you incite a movement in this direction?
Who would you recruit to help?
Who does it a lot/enough/too much/effectively already?
What are these people like?
What else do you admire about them?
What else else??
My biggest pet peeve is early closure (asking far too few and poor questions, then jumping to poor conclusions).
How would it have changed your engagement with this post, if at all, had I opened with that declaration?
To walk my title mantra talk, it occurred to me to introduce my thesis—that we should all practice asking more and better questions—posed as a question.
How would readers answer, I wondered? The possibilities are infinite, OMG how awesome!
Where would the conversation go after that, I asked myself? What else would I ask in response? The subsequent questions came to me, in the order above, as I embraced my premise in full. And wow, it felt liberated, generative, potentiating, and FUN! I would love to have this conversation!
Asking questions, more than answering them, is how we learn and grow. Finding the best questions to unlock innovation and connection—I can think of few more satisfying undertakings. Those questions stop us in our tracks. We look up, straighten our posture, cock our heads. Mental gears that don’t usually turn get cranked, sparking action potentials where none ever occurred before. Magnificent questions carve novel landscapes of insight and creativity within, before, and between us—ah-HA!
More than anything, excellent questions help us connect.
When you have a great idea, what do you want most when you share it? You want people to ask you about it, right?
And what engages you most when they ask–what are the greatest benefits? Maybe they help you flesh out a rudimentary notion, find flaws, discover applications, strengthen your argument? Maybe they point you to perspectives you had not yet seen? Maybe they trigger even more interesting questions that you had not thought to ask before?
Even converting statements to questions, as I did in the last three sentences, can alter the course of an encounter, yielding much more rewarding depth and complexity—no?
I have a friend who used to meet any concept outside his comfort zone immediately with, “That’s a bad idea.” Guess how fast I stopped sharing things with him? Thankfully, I have friends like Donna, Christine, Stacy, Nicole, and others, who will respond to even my most outlandish assertions with, “Ooo, tell me more?” “What made you say that?” “How does that relate to…?” “Where will you take this?” and the like. Our conversations inevitably end in my scribbling exuberantly, and those musings often show up on this blog. When I find myself mired in the dysfunctional narratives of my most challenging relationships, it’s the open, honest questions I ask myself that get me unstuck.
Be the person people want to tell their ideas to. Inhabit the safe place where your loved ones, those you lead, and anyone who needs you can bring their nascent, brilliant, opinionated, eccentric, flawed, WRONG, and any other thoughts. Ask more and better questions for clarification, understanding, exploration, collaboration, and connection, among other things.
Notice that the most generative questions often start with ‘What’ and ‘How’, and their answers are almost never yes, no, or some other binary choice. The most fun exception might be, “HELL YES, or no?”
Lastly, if you’re surrounded by pitiable interrogators, substitute their banal queries with the most fascinating ones you can muster, respond to those instead, and see where that goes. Maybe they’ll take the hint and follow suit, and voila, you’ve started a movement.
I really love the questions below. What are your favorites?
Onward in curiosity, friends.
What assumptions do I make here?
What do I not know?
What is up with that?
What is the evidence?
How do I know?
How sure am I, really?
How would I feel in that situation?
What is my objective here?
What does this person really care about?
What am I committed to first?
What next step(s) will move us toward our goal(s)?
What would I give for this?
What does this person need from me?