I just began another journal, and every time I begin a new Moleskine journal, I start out by writing 100 questions. Questions about life, about God, about my goals, family, etc. The first 25 or 30 questions are fairly easy, both to write and to answer. The rest really cause me to dig deep, to ponder, to probe and to probe some more.
Questions Do Make a Difference
I truly believe that one of the main differences in people and what they accomplish in life lies in the ability to ask good questions.
Robert Kennedy said the following in 1968, “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’”
I’ve always liked this particular quote. There are things we don’t see because we ask the wrong questions. Our minds focus on the ‘why?’ and not the ‘why not?’
This new journal happened to correspond to a series of meetings we just had. As a result, many of my 100 questions focused on the subject of these meetings. In part, these questions drove what answers I was looking for and as a result, many of these questions have now been answered!
I’m sure this has been said before, but “It’s not the quality of the answers that change your life… it’s the quality of the questions!”
Five Components of Good Questions
So what makes for a good question? Here are a five components of an effective question:
Your question should have the outcome in mind.
This sets the theme and the direction. Time is wisely used if this is factored in from the beginning. And the good thing is, you know when you have achieved your goal because you know what it looks like!
It should move you in a forward direction.
Questions can be used like a step ladder. One question can lead to another and so on. This takes you all the way from beginning to end. Questions make the brain function like programming does to a computer. Garbage In/Garbage Out was the old saying. Bad programming keeps you from moving forward just as poorly formed questions keep you from moving forward.
Your question should be simple and clear.
Simple and clear statements are the best. Simple and concise statements keep you moving in the right direction as well. A clever question can be simple and clear as well and foster very profound answers.
Your question should be thought provoking.
Ask a question in such a way that it stimulates thought. Use comparison, contrast, black and white, size, morphing of ideas, etc. There are many ways throw a twist in the question so that it fuels the creative process.
Your question should energize you.
When you ask the right questions, you are moved along the stream of thought much like a raft begins to move along the whitewater rapids. You gather steam. One idea flows out of another. It is a marvelous feeling and something that you become addicted to. That’s why creative people like to hang out together!
Try this. Write 100 questions. Do so in one sitting too. No breaks. You’ll end up with a list that will keep you going for a while. If you run out of things to journal about, look back to your questions. Try tackling one of them. I guarantee you. You will be amazed!
What are your top three questions when it comes to getting things done?