We are currently living in an age where getting answers are so easy and only within hands reach. As an avid user of technology gadgets, I have thoroughly enjoyed the ease with which I could get the answers that I need. Sites like Google and Wikipedia could answer my question within minutes, and sometimes seconds, depending on which part of the world I am in. I could ask silly questions, which, to my surprise still yields sensible answers. I remember having a slight disagreement with friends recently about the definition of “on time” and “in time”. We googled the meaning using my mobile phone and came to learn the correct answer.
Answers are everywhere around us. We just need to ask the right questions. Unfortunately, not every question can be answered even with the most powerful search engine on the planet. There are questions we need to ask from people, rather than from a machine. As an example, I cannot ask what do I want to (or should) become in the future, or who is the right person to marry for me, or how to nurture young kids the right way.
In my last blog entry I wrote about how I enjoyed giving answers to people who come to me with questions. However, as any good leader will be willing to attest, leaders should enjoy asking questions more than we do giving answers. As a result, I have been learning to improve upon the art of asking questions. I have learned to not take everything at face value but instead to continue being curious and prod further with questions. In fact, in my profession as a coach, I have learned that the best coaches do not give answers. They ask questions! One of my favorite definition of coaching is “someone who comes alongside you to assist you getting where you want to be by asking curiosity-based questions.” A coach is not meant to tell you what to do. They are supposed to help you to extract from the inside what you already know.
Asking good question will get you good answers, but asking great question will give birth to great answers. This is how the great thinkers of past generations as well as current generations came to great fame. They were greatly curious people who were never satisfied in their hunt for answers, and in the process, were willing to ask questions that were rarely asked. In their quest for answers, they were even willing to ask seemingly foolish questions.
I believed that the only foolish questions are those that were never asked. Albert Einstein, considered by many to be one of the greatest minds in the 20th century was once labelled an imbecile due to his hunger for knowledge and annoyed his teachers because he was “asking too many questions.” I am passionate about education and I believed that students who are willing to learn and ask questions are those that will eventually excel in their studies. As leaders, teachers, communicators, parents or mentors, there is great privilege for us to teach others the art of asking questions and instilling the curiosity in them, rather than the old-school style of spoon-fed education.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the true master at the art of asking questions. As a person of faith, I cannot write about questions without mentioning the name. Throughout the gospel, Jesus displayed great proficiency at asking the right questions, often to the extent of answering a question with another question. Jesus clearly demonstrated to us that an answer discovered from within are answers that will stay with us the longest. One of my favorite examples of this is when Jesus asked the question, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Just by asking that question, Jesus taught us that worrying, in fact, yields only anxiousness and is a fruitless behaviour. I believe we have a lot to learn from Jesus to ask great questions.
I leave you with the following thought, “Good questions give information, but great questions give transformation.”
What do you think? Have you ever asked what you thought was a foolish question? What was the best questions you have ever asked to others, or to yourself? How do you usually seek for answer? I would love to hear from you, in the comments.