Wise leaders understand that well-formed questions can become a battle horn.
Revolutions—whether of a nation or a single human heart—begin when someone asks a question.
A stumpy, toga-draped figure with a homely face is counted among the most influential individuals of all time.
Unlike the other great characters of ancient Athens, he chose to steer clear of politics and climbing the civic ladder. And unlike other popular philosophers of his era, he wrote no books, established no school, and did not even offer any formal classes.
Yet this man has stood at the heart of Western philosophy for twenty-four hundred years. And his influence grew almost entirely from conversations built upon a single tool: the question.
The leading Athenians of Socrates’ day had their faults, but they cannot be accused of being unperceptive. They knew that Socrates’ unassuming dialogues and probing questions—what is today called the Socratic Method—presented more of a threat to Athens’ status quo than even the enemy armies of mighty Sparta.
Despite his sincere piety and patriotism, Socrates was put on trial for subversion. He was charged with corrupting the youth and undermining religious practices. A small majority of the jury voted to convict.
Rejecting their offer of life in exile, Socrates submitted to the jury’s final sentence: death by suicide. He spent his final hours with students and family members. As the sun drew low, the aging teacher raised a cup of hemlock to his lips. He walked around the cell, allowing the poison to move into his bloodstream. Then, as those gathered around him wept, he lay down, never to rise again.
His question-centered communication, however, continues to reverberate. Athens, and with it the entire Western world, have never been the same.
Upended Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe
Jedd serves as president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans
Erik is the principle at Different Drummer, a LA and NYC based audience mobilization agency for global entertainments brands and content.
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