People who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives. –Neil deGrasse Tyson
Questions open our world to possibilities, expand our perspectives, and help us understand ourselves and each other with greater clarity. Questions and reflection challenge us to dig deeply into our psyches to uncover what truly matters to us.
The art of questioning is the path to smart decisions.
We humans spend much of our time on automatic pilot. As children we are insatiably curious. Hang out with a three year old for a while and you’ll get sick of the ‘why’ questions. Unfortunately, we learn as we grow that it’s not ok to ask a lot of questions. We are labeled as disruptors and over time we learn that we need to keep our questions to a minimum so the lessons can continue.
Without questions there can be no change.
To grow as an individual, you need to ask questions of yourself and others and become more reflective. Questions help you become self-aware, to support decision making and to build connection.
As a leader, you are responsible for the quality of your communication. With good questions you ask powerful, open-ended questions that uncover the uncertainty, false perceptions, and unconscious bias that impede high-quality decision making.
In turn, this actively builds trust and loyalty with team members so you can rely on their support when it is needed. You push yourself and your team to make sure everyone is focused to reach your objectives.
Open-ended questions can’t be answered with yes or no.
Coming from a mindset of curiosity, you can use these kinds of questions to test your understanding of a person’s meaning, to probe how they arrived at their views, to be inclusive, and to promote action. An essential part of giving and receiving good feedback.
Knowing the answers will help you in school but knowing how to question will help you in life. –Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question
Questions Are Disruptive—And a Foundation For Growth
I always wanted to understand the deeper questions of our existence and the truth about others. I have not always been self-directed, but I have been motivated to live an independent existence filled with diverse experiences that challenged my concept of self.
For every transition and reinvention in my life (and there have been plenty of them!), I’ve had to face the hard questions about who I wanted to be, what I needed to do differently, and make the decision to change. This has defined my life in ways that I never could have predicted. Because I persisted in finding the truth of who I am and who I want to be, questioning has made a better me.
Questions are at the heart of every decision you’ve taken, even if you don’t realize it. Questions generate fresh ideas that identify opportunities for growth and impact your career and personal life. Change begins with questions.
We all have areas where we know we can be better. Questioning what is and is not working in your life begins your personal change process. Asking yourself the difficult questions demands the necessary work of changing to be the best version of yourself.
These kinds of questions often focus on the negative because we can be our own worst critics! Questions stir the pot, to get you thinking deeply about what runs your life. There are no easy answers.
When you examine the stories that you believe define you, try actively questioning their verity and their current relevance.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The quality of your life depends on it. Challenge your assumptions and look for alternative narratives that are more aligned with who you think you are.
Questions are an opportunity to open the door to change. They reveal underlying truths that will help shift your thinking. Identifying these areas allows you to create goals and strategies that lead in the direction you truly want to go.
Try these five deceptively simple questions to get started:
- Who am I when I am at my best?
- In what circumstances am I most myself?
- Am I overly concerned with being liked? What is that about?
- What are my superpowers and how do I apply them?
- What portion of my time is spent in self-reflection?
- In the best possible scenario, who will I be five years from now?
Finally, take a moment to consider why you are asking these key questions.
When you begin finding some answers, the ultimate definitive question to ask: Why does this matter to me?
Genuine Questions Move You Toward Positive Opportunities
- How do I feel when my goals and aspirations and my work effort don’t match?
- What one thing can I do to change that?
- What can I do that will maximize my strengths?
- What would I be willing to put everything on the line for?
- What do I most value in my life? Why?
I believe that great opportunities come when you push yourself beyond your comfort level.
When you encounter an opportunity, take it!
You may not know where your questions or ideas will take you, but that’s part of the adventure to accelerate your life success. With a clear vision, a strong sense of values and purpose, and consistent action, the results may surprise you.