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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting out of the box - Questions and Curiosity

It might be counter-intuitive in the “I need to be the expert” rat race and with the belief that we have to be all–knowing, whatever the job or position we hold. However, I belief a good starting point for any conversation with yourself and with others to be: “I don’t know, let’s find out, explore, and then act wisely” unless, of course, you are certain of things.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I value the art and skill of questioning. Not because I would have loved to be an investigator of any kind nor because I take to philosophy, which I do. The true reason is that I see too many dead-end thinking processes. I witness too many conversations clogged with preconceptions, prejudices, assumptions, and unshakable beliefs that leave no room for different beliefs or perspectives. And I see too many ego-driven conversations with little or no meaningful focus on the other person, whether it be a client, superior, subordinate, or loved one. I believe all this to be dangerous in life, in business, in personal development, in politics – you name it.

So my question to you today is: Can you ever ask enough questions? Not easily, is my opinion, and I am not just speaking from a customer-focus point of view where you are trying to gain relevant information about customers or prospects. I mean in general. I therefore suggest we spend more time freeing the mind of preconceptions, prejudices and assumptions by asking more questions, almost like children do:

-What makes it so?

- Why not?                         

- How so?

- Why not the opposite?

- How do you know?

- Where to?

These and similar questions decrease the chances you stay locked up in possibly old beliefs that used to have value but, in a changing world, have lost most of their power. These questions decrease the chance you constrain yourself to the limitations of the “preconception straight-jacket”. These questions decrease the chance that you are perceived (and worse, operate as) a quick-fix shallow person with an inflated ego.

Some of the questions I suggest you contemplate

1.       What moves me?

2.       Where am I heading?

3.       Who moved me today?

4.       What are three different perspectives to use on this issue?

5.       Who did I move and inspire this week?

6.       What have I upset today, what did I stir up?

7.       What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

8.       What risks do I take?

9.       Where can others find my imprints?

10.   What do I want to see when I look back 10 years from now?

Asking relentless questions, asking thought-enhancing questions, that’s what broadens your perspective, that’s what makes you focus on others, that’s what helps you look inside, that’s what makes you take advantage of multiple perspectives, that’s what facilitates charting new territory, and that’s what enables creative problem-solving.

True, many questions don’t have definite answers, but that’s perfectly okay, better get used to it. It’s not always (or often not) about finding the right answers, it’s about asking the right questions and the process of re-examining and re-thinking that it fuels.

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