If you’ve spent any time studying creativity in leadership, you know that one of the most important attributes of innovative leaders is the ability to ask good questions. Apple has become the dominant force it is because Steve Jobs forced his team to ask important questions no one else was asking.
I never knew I couldn’t live without an iPhone, until I couldn’t live without an iPhone!
Questions are powerful tools to expand your thinking. They cause you to move past your assumptions and entertain the ridiculous, the nonsensical, the uncomfortable and on occasion, the truly genius.
Where Questions Go To Die:
So, we know it’s important to ask questions, but if we’re being honest, it’s an area that most of us struggle with. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Talk to any four year old and you will be peppered with a constant flow of questions. Talk to that same child when they’re twelve and the flow of questions has almost completely dried up.
Our school system is designed in such a way that we train our children to disregard ambiguity for the pursuit of the right answer. Fast forward a few years and you find a generation of budding innovators who have forgotten who they once were and embraced a “standardized” life much like the tests they were trained to take in school.
Think about the American Dream – go to college, get married, have a couple of kids, buy a house and two cars, save some cash and retire to the good life. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But does it sound great? (And, if we are being honest, is that even realistic anymore?)
Most of us have wiped “great” out of the vocabulary that defines our life. We’ve stopped asking questions that would make us uncomfortable and settled for “good.” We’ve replaced “How will I measure my life?” with “Should we get Chipotle or Pei Wei for dinner tonight?”
Is that really the life we want?
The One Question You MUST Answer:
This morning I was reading an article by Seth Godin (if you aren’t signed up for his blog, go do it now. I’ll wait.) He asked a question that is one of the most important questions any leader needs to ask.
This is a question that will define the boundaries of your life.
God may have a dream for what your life will be, but if your internal answer to the question “is better possible?” is no, then you have defined your boundaries to safe and certain… and boring.
The easiest and safest thing to do is accept what you’ve been ‘given’, to assume that you are unchangeable, and the cards you’ve been dealt are all that are available. When you assume this, all the responsibility for outcomes disappears, and you can relax. – Seth Godin
We do this don’t we?
If we take better off the table, it absolves us of any sense of responsibility to the world we live in or the mission God created us to fulfill.
Just relax…there is nothing you can do about it anyway.
Sure, there are a million reasons why you shouldn’t get involved, why you can’t afford to take the risk, why you probably won’t succeed. That’s the “right” answer you’ve been trained to accept as true. But what if you forced yourself to see a different outcome? What if you started asking yourself some uncomfortable questions with no sure answers? What might happen then?
Here are a few to get you thinking. Read at your own risk!
- I’ve spent years establishing my life, why should I start over now?
- If my career is advancing and I’m still not happy, why is that? What would happen if I did something about it?
- If something I see really bothers me, does that mean I have a responsibility to be a part of the solution?
- What should I stop doing? If I stopped doing it, would anyone notice?
- What in your life have you determined is already decided? Is that the truth or is it just the easy answer?
- If not now, when?
I think that better is possible. I think you do, too. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
Let me know what you think! Reply to this post or send me an email and join the conversation.