“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” ~Thomas Berger
The questions we never ask will never produce the answers they would have revealed.
The questions we never ask fail to open paths or illuminate lives or introduce possibilities or redirect courses.
The questions we never ask keep lights dim, insight shallow and lives floating, drifting and sometimes sinking.
Some of us look the other way when a good question sidles up alongside us. We worry we just might have to answer it if it gets too close, and if answered honestly, we may have to do something about our lives.
Which tack you take determines the value the following questions produce and the trajectory they have the power to recalibrate in your life.
Three Powerful Questions
“The simplest questions are the most profound.” ~Richard Bach
Question #1: Where Does this Path Lead?
This single question more fundamentally changed my life than any other question I’ve ever asked of myself.
The Setting: About a million years ago (give or take), I was playing a video game at a pizza parlor after school when a friend came up to watch me play. After a while of watching, he asked if I had been partying. He could tell. When I told him I had, he shrugged and grunted the sound of disapproval and turned and walked away.
At first I was puzzled. I mean this guy was a regular party buddy of mine. But here he was all disappointed with me as though he had suddenly become a nun. I cursed at him under my breath.
But then I started thinking.
The Question: It was then, for whatever reason, that I dared to ask myself the scariest of questions for those who have lived their lives without much personal thought, planning, preparation or direction.
I asked myself where this path I was on was leading, where it was headed, where it was taking me. I wondered as I stared blankly into the empty future, “What good is at the end of this road?”
I couldn’t answer; I saw nothing positive down that road. No value whatsoever. No future worthy of who I knew I should become. So I went cold turkey. I simply stopped partying … and never looked back.
Where would I be without having asked that question? I shudder to think.
“Questions are the creative acts of intelligence.” ~Joan Borysenko
Question #2: What Weakness is most Hurting those I Love?
Your biggest weakness is your worst enemy. What would you do to protect your family? To what lengths would you go to save them from harm?
Well, not only is your character being undermined by your darkest weakness, but your most important relationships are being harmed as well.
Did you know termites destroy more homes than fire in some states? They cost the southwestern United States over $1.5 billion. They sneak in and stay concealed until the damage is done, eating away investment and home.
There are also insidious bugs that infect character and conscience and slowly chew away at the foundations of happiness and harmonious relationships and love. Those need to be dealt with at least as urgently as termites in your home.
It’s easy to point fingers and blame. But when I started taking responsibility for the termites in my own life, all my most important relationships improved as well.
Question #3: Why Not?
Granted, this question can be used to ill-effect as well. Rob a bank? Why not? YOLO! But used responsibly and perhaps with adult supervision, it can lead to some amazing opportunities as well.
Thinking of starting a business? A blog? Training for a marathon? Picking up a new hobby? Joining a church? Traveling?
Some will ask themselves rhetorically, as though the question itself provides the obvious answer: “Who am I to do such things?”
But I’m here to ask you a better question: “Who are you not to?”
And so I started martial arts, wrote a children’s book, a historical novel, created a series of greeting card designs, designed two different board games, moved to Taiwan to serve the people there for two years, changed my life in dramatic ways, changed careers and started a blog all as a result of “Why not?”
Granted, other questions often followed that moved me in one direction or another, sometimes quitting one thing to start another. Books weren’t published, cards rejected, activities quit.
So what! I’ve had fun doing what I’ve done, learning what I’ve learned, picking up one skill, then another.
What was the alternative? Watch more TV? No thanks!
Do something you’ve never done before, something you’ve always wanted to do, or are curious about. Do something out of character, or right up your alley. Do something you’re afraid to do or something you love. Do something never done in the history of things being done by all the people around the world doing them.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell if a man is wise by his questions.” Naquib Mahfouz
Can’t find a reason to justify it?
Try this one: