There are people who are afraid of questions. Not the kind they must answer, but rather the ones they should ask. The ones you should ask are the valuable ones. It is okay to not know the answer in the beginning. Maybe not ever.
Questions fall into two classes.
- The ones you should ask of others
- The ones you should ask yourself
The ones you ask of others are often fact based. Where is the nearest gas station? How do I fix a broken screen window? Have you seen my phone? We tend to know how to do that. They add information that would be time consuming or impossible to find on your own. Efficiency.
There are others that we ask of others that are more uncomfortable because there is a wide range of feelings involved. Will you go to the prom with me? Can I write up this order now? How many children would you like to have? Do you think we should put Mom into a nursing home? What is your hope for President Trump? These questions tend to have no exactly right answer. Many elicit previously unknown conflicts that will be resolved before an answer can be found. These questions grow answers that lead to something useful. Deeper understanding of a complex situation.
Others are not the only possible target for questions that grow answers.
Questions you ask yourself matter most. Who am I? What am I trying to do? Why am I here? Where am I going? Who do I care about? What can I offer? What matters? I can’t do everything right now, what is the priority list? Questions you ask yourself tend to be strategic. They set out the field of play for you and the tools and time permitted for the game. They define you and allow you to explore alternatives to your deeply held habits and patterns. They help you grow.
The examined life idea.
Socrates has said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That seems harsh and few of us can claim to live a fully examined life, yet we still find life worth living. For many, harsh is rejected and the unexamined life becomes the norm. The results are in evidence. Empathy stops. Self-destructive behaviour and the pursuit of “fun” dominates. People fail to plan because they do not understand the playing field, the scoreboard or the rules of the game. Families break down over undiscovered and attainable goals.
Life is not simple, but it is manageable. You will not get it perfectly right, but you can make it better if you examine it from time to time.
If Socrates was too harsh for your taste, try this idea. “You don’t get answers to questions you don’t ask.”
Like well-defined problems, well-defined questions often create their own answers merely by the defining process. Ask more questions. Questions are where the meaning will come from.
Curiousity is a powerful motivator.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772