I was scouting through the titles in my Kindle paper-white and one title picked my attention. A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. With questions scattered throughout, the book tells stories of breakthrough ideas, innovations, or new ways of thinking that began with a powerful and sometimes offbeat questions.
Research indicates average child four year old asks their parents approximately 390 questions per day. This tells us that questioning is something so fundamental and instinctive that we don’t need to think about it. It’s a given, an essential and accepted part of life and something that anyone, even a child can do. But ironically, as the age increases, the number of questions a person asks reduces significantly.
Anything that forces people to have to think is not an easy sell, which highlights the challenges of questioning in our everyday lives – and why we don’t do it as much as we might or should. Clearly, it is easier and more “efficient” to go about our daily affairs without questioning everything. It’s natural for our brain to find ways to “reduce our mental workload” and one way is to accept without question or to even just ignore much of what is going on around us at any time. We operate on auto-pilot which can help us save mental energy, allow us to multitask, and enable us to get through the daily grind.
What constitutes a beautiful question? A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change. The focus here is on questions that can be acted upon, questions that can lead to tangible results and change. In esteemed physicist Edward Witten words “A beautiful question is one that is hard (and interesting) enough that it is worth answering and easy enough that one can actually answer it.” In today’s world, questioning is more important than it was yesterday and will be more important tomorrow, in helping us figure out what matters, where opportunities lies, and how to get there. While we are always hungry for better answers, we must first learn to ask the right questions. Because ambitious catalytic questioning tends to follow a logical progression, one that often starts with stepping back and seeing things differently and ends with taking action on a particular question.
What are your beautiful questions? Do you want to develop and improve your ability to question? Want to rekindle that questioning spark you had at age four? If you need help to discover your beautiful questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary 30 minutes phone conversation