“If you’re willing to grab onto the real power of questions, they can change your whole life. It comes down to increasing the quantity and quality of the questions we ask ourselves and others. It also matters
enormously what our intentions are when we ask those questions. As the Romanian playwright Eugène
Ionesco famously said, ‘It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.’”
I must have looked puzzled, because Joseph paused and said, “You’ve never heard the term Question Thinking before, have you?”
I shook my head, no.
“Question Thinking is a system of skills and tools using questions to expand how you approach virtually any situation. It’s about developing skills to refine your questions for vastly better results in anything you do. That begins with asking questions of ourselves, and only then asking them of others. The QT system, that is, Question Thinking, can literally put action into your thinking—action that’s focused, creative, and effective. It’s a great way to create a foundation for making wiser choices.”
Question Thinking is a system of tools for transforming thinking, action, and results through skillful question asking —questions we ask ourselves as well as those we ask others.
“Go on,” I said, skeptically.
“Much of the time we’re barely conscious of asking questions, especially the ones we ask ourselves. But questions are a part of our thought process nearly every moment of our lives. Thinking actually occurs as an internal question-and-answer process. Not only that, we often answer our own questions by taking some action, by doing something.
“Here’s an example. When you got dressed this morning, I’ll bet you went to your closet, or dresser—or maybe even the floor—and asked yourself questions like: Where am I going? What’s the weather? What’s comfortable? Or even, What’s clean? You answered your questions by making a quick decision and then doing something. You selected some clothing and put it on. You are, in effect, wearing your answers.”
“I guess I can’t argue with that. As you say, though, if I did ask those questions, I hardly noticed it at the time. Actually, my biggest question was whether Grace picked up my clothes at the cleaners, like she promised.”
We both laughed.
Joseph was on a roll. It seemed like a good idea to just sit back and hear him out. Besides, I was getting intrigued.
“When we get stuck,” Joseph continued, “it’s natural to go on a hunt for answers and solutions. But in doing so we often unintentionally put up blocks instead of creating openings. I always remember that wonderful quote of Albert Einstein’s: ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ To solve our problems, we first need to change our questions. Otherwise we’ll probably just keep getting the same old answers, over and over again.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
“New questions can totally shift our perspectives, moving us into fresh ways of looking at problems. The questions we ask can even change the course of history, sometimes dramatically. Let me give you an example. Long ago, nomadic societies were driven by the implicit question How do we get ourselves to water?”
I nodded. “Which is what kept them nomadic…”
“Yet look what happened when their implicit question changed to How do we get water to come to us? That new question initiated one of humanity’s most significant paradigm shifts. It ushered in agriculture,including the invention of irrigation, the storage of water, digging wells, and eventually the creation of cities, often many miles from water. Just think of Las Vegas. That new question changed peoples’ behavior, changed the course of history, and we can never go back.”
“I guess I can see how questions apply to getting dressed and even to that paradigm shift for nomads. But how does this apply to business? And more to the point, how can it help me with my problems?” “The point is that questions drive results,” Joseph responded. “They virtually program how we think, the actions we take and what kinds of outcomes are possible. Consider three companies, each one driven by one of the following questions: What’s the best way to satisfy shareholders? What’s the best way to satisfy customers? What’s the best way to satisfy employees? In terms of a business, each question will point the organization in a different direction, influencing, if not dictating its strategies for achieving its goals. Remember: Questions drive results. That’s as true in your day-to-day life at QTec as it was for nomads thousands of years ago.
Questions drive results.
“Your ideas are interesting,” I hedged. “But I’ve literally built my reputation on having answers…not questions.”
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