It’s a surprising, grand reversal. We think that learning comes from hearing someone tell us what to do. This is the side of the coin that reads, “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The book of Proverbs in the Bible refers to this aspect of wisdom as knowledge. Knowledge is necessary to learn and grow.
The often-neglected other side of the coin is insight. I find that one of the best ways to gain insight is to ask questions.
Questions have a way of shining a spotlight on an aspect of life that otherwise remains muddled, unclear. Voltaire wrote, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” In one of my favorite books, The One Thing, Gary Keller wrote, “The quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.” (The One Thing, p. 103)
Asking good questions serves so many purposes. The right question steers a conversation. Genuine questions show interest or concern. Questions lean us toward humility as we acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers.
One of the most beneficial uses of questions is for gaining clarity in those stuck places of life. One of the life-changing days in my brother, Litt’s, life began with a question written on the top of a blank page, “Why am I so stressed?” He spent the day diving deeply into the answer. We all have times in life when we get stuck. Being stuck is often a result of a lack of clarity. If that is where you are, take a blank notepad and write at the top the one question that you need to answer. “What needs to change?” Or something like that. Then get to work answering the question.
Perhaps my favorite use of questions is to spur personal growth. As silly as it might seem, I ask myself questions all day long. “What habit could I begin which would make the most difference in my life?” “How can I be a better husband?” “Why am I struggling so much now?” The questions always seem to point me in the right direction.
Here are a few tips for using questions in your life:
- Have one question that you ask yourself each day. What question is your choice? The question may change over time. That is okay.
- Consider whether a group you meet with might benefit by asking a consistent question each time.
- Use questions when you are stuck to gain clarity.
- Use questions to focus efforts when planning and strategizing.
- Use questions as you direct your personal growth.
What question do you need to ask yourself right now?
Over the next few weeks, we will be doing a deep dive into a few questions that have helped me over the years.