青年園地: Having the Right Answer is Smart Having the Right Question is Genius


Andy Lee

At the end of a training workshop, the presenter will often offer up an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. They encourage participation by prompting people to express their thoughts confidently without feeling embarrassed.

And they do this by saying “Don’t worry, there are no stupid questions.”

I bought into this early on and stuck with it for a long time. So much so that I would say the same thing at the end of delivering group training or a workshop myself.

“Thanks for listening, now is time for Q&A. Who’s got questions? And don’t worry, there are no stupid ones…” Is what I’d say.

However, I regularly take time out to review long-held opinions and beliefs about how things are. I’m not talking factual stuff. I leave that alone. I’m talking about my views on how the world works, how people work. I’m talking about the best and fastest ways to personal growth and fulfilling potential.

It’s important to take the time to review some of your long-standing beliefs. They might have made sense to you at the time, but as your knowledge and experience grows, you might suddenly realise that your reasons for holding those views are no longer reasonable.

To ignore this new information and learning would be just plain stubbornness or ignorance. Or both. Don’t deny yourself the chance to evolve and grow by never questioning why you believe the things you do.

And so back to stupid questions. Is it beneficial to think that there are no stupid questions? Is there a better belief to have that will actually serve me and the people around me better.

In a word, yes. I think there is. And here’s why.

Whilst I may be still too polite to call any question stupid, I think there’s a big list of questions we could ask of ourselves, others, and of the world, that are just inferior, irrelevant, and just plain unhelpful.
Asking the wrong question wastes time. Asking the wrong question gives you a totally false sense of progress. Asking the wrong question limits your choices. It sends your focus in the wrong direction.

It can cause you to look backward instead of forward. It can keep you stuck in your problem instead of taking the steps to make progress towards the solution.

Here’s my new belief about questions.

“The quality of the question determines the quality of the answer”.
Instead of impulsively asking the first thing that comes to mind, and then spending ages trying to figure out the answer, take as much time as necessary to come up with the best question for the situation. If you do that, the answer will be infinitely more powerful and effective.

We make things more complicated than they need to be, and end up stuck in our mind of swirling thoughts because we haven’t taken the time to figure out what exactly we need to know to make progress.
So if you want better answers, then ask better questions. There is zero value in having the perfect answer to the wrong question.

“Why am I in this mess” vs “How do I get out of it?”.

“Why did he do that to me?” vs “How do I prevent it from happening again?”

“Why can’t I break my bad habits?” vs “What actions can I take to replace my bad habits with good ones?”

“How much is it?” vs “How will this change my life?”

Asking the wrong question can set you off in completely wrong direction and down a rabbit hole full of more wrong questions. Asking the wrong question leads you further away from the answer, not closer.

Lastly, asking better questions gives you better choices and expands your options. It shifts your state from feeling helpless to hopeful. It helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the current darkness you might find yourself in.

Better questions build momentum because they move you towards action-oriented decisions.

So slow down your reactive responses. Be more aware of the way you handle your curiosity. Become a genius at asking the right questions.