To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.
Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.
Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?
Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates
Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.
The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.
Ready? Very well, let’s go.
Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.
When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.
When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.
Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.
Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.
I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.
Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.
Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.
Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.
When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.
Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clarity, to build collaborations and strategy, which foster vulnerability, trust, and relationships; and, that is leading.
Ask your questions, and develop yourself and everyone else around you.
This weekend I reimagined the covid-19 creativity site and in its place created jefflesch.com. Why? It was time. When I originally created the COVID-19 site, I had no idea that I would end up writing all that I have.
It’s been a wonderful experience, one that will continue well into the future, as I have lots more to to tell you all about, and to discuss with you. 🙂
As I was reimagining the site I had an insight. Before we get to the insight, however, I am going to recreate the distinction between the head and the heart to aid in communicating this insight. Ready? Here we go.
About the Head and the Heart
I’ve written about the head (intellect) and heart (intuition) many times on this site. Sometimes, I’ve used head and heart, sometimes I’ve used intellect and intuition. The distinction? Alright.
When we use our head, we are leading with our intellect. That which we understand to be true about the world.
We’ve acquired some of this understanding from our parents and caretakers; and, some has come from schools, friends, and coworkers. Really anyone we have in our life.
On the other hand, when we use our intuition, we are leading with our heart. That which we know to be true about the world.
Do you see the distinction?
With intellect we understand something to be true, and with intuition, we know it to be true. When we intuit something, we have a deep feeling that that something is true, or right. Or just as easily, wrong and false.
An important distinction.
The more you are connected to your intuition, the more accurate the knowing will be. If, however, you’ve been disconnected from your intuitive-self, the knowing can be more challenging. I would know.
Though my intuition has always been with me, for a long time, it was suppressed. Covered up by other things, like food and alcohol. Not the case today.
Alright, that’s the distinction. Now the insight? Alright, here we go.
An Insight From the Newly Developed Site
As I’ve written about before, I now work in education. I’ve worked in education full-time for the past 5 years, and combined with my part-time work, it’s been over 13 years. Long time.
Prior to going back to school at 33, I worked in the private sector, in sales and sales leadership. 16 years. Also a long time.
In my current job, I get to use both my practical work experience, and my educational experience. It’s a ton of fun.
When I developed the leadership site, which is now no more, and the COVID-19 site, I didn’t realize I was actually creating an intellectual site and an intuitive site. No idea. Super cool insight.
As I reimagined and then created my website this weekend, it occured to me that the newly formulated site is a combination of both my head (intellect) and heart (intuition). I think that’s pretty cool.
Though it was never my intention to create two sites, one focused on my intellect, and one focused on my heart, it just sort of happened that way. What excites me most now?
That I now get to give you everything I’ve got. Both my head and my heart, right here. Exciting.
Alright, that’s the insight alongside the distinction about the head and the heart. Oh, one more thing.
Know that the head and heart, though separated in this post intentionally, are really one. They are connected, and work together, even when our intuition is covered up by other things.
What fun this journey has been. And, as the first chapter comes to an end, this next chapter is going to be so much fun. I look forward to writing to you, and discussing all with you.
Possibility: Noun – a thing that may happen or be the case.
I’ve been thinking more about possibility this week. What’s possible in our new landscape? Are the same things possible today, as were possible 6 months ago?
Not sure? Me either, so let’s take a look.
The Art of Possibility is about creating a context. A context specific to new ways to think about old and or new problems or issues. It is about letting go of preconceived notions of what is possible in a given situation.
The psychology of possibility is rather simple. Let go of the past, be in the present, and create the future from where you stand today, seeing reality as it is.
Not how we think it is, rather how it really is.
Seeing reality as it really is means being aware of our thinking patterns, and knowing when we are limiting ourselves by presuming or assuming we know all there is to know about a problem, issue, or situation we are faced with. Factually, humans know very little – if you don’t believe this blogger, read a little Socrates.
The sociology of possibility involves creating traction with those around us in the art of possibility. As I’ve written elsewhere, humans are social animals, and rely upon connections with other humans.
It is only natural then that groups will function in accordance with the language they use to describe their shared reality. If that language is about limitation then limitation is what they will see and create.
If, however, that language is about possibility, then possibility is what they will see and create.
The possibility of possibility is about remaining open to new ideas, new understanding, and letting go of the notion that we know. Seems simple, yet can be difficult, as human beings are in some ways programmed to think they know more than they do, which is where vulnerability comes in.
Being open means being vulnerable.
Be vulnerable today in some way. Create and share a possibility with someone in your context, and, or create and share a possibility here. Either way, create and share. What else is there, really?
Have you ever considered your blind spots? No? Probably not, seeing as we are blind to them. What in the world are they, and how do they function; and, even more importantly, what can we do about them? Alright, let’s take a look.
What is a blind spot; and, how do they function?
You know what you know, right? Okay. Let me write it this way. You are aware of all those things that you know about, yes? Yes, good. How about those things that you know you don’t know. Yes? Good. Last one. How about those things that you don’t know you don’t know? Hm. A little different, right. Yep. That’s right. That’s your blind spot.
We all have them. And, they are all different. Meaning, that we all have different things that we don’t know we don’t know. Phew. A little semantical, I know. Hm. Let’s do a whiteboard real quick to show you. I also feel another video coming.
There we go, better. Let’s say that the circle encompasses all that is knowable. Got it, okay. Now, as you can see, the sections of that which we know we know, and know we don’t know, are much smaller than all that we don’t know we don’t know. A very important distinction. Why?
Because what this simple illustration shows, and what I am pointing to in this post is that there is a vast amount of information (knowing) that is available to all of us, yet is not accessible to most people. Why? Because that which we don’t know we don’t know lives in our blind spot. What can we do?
What can we do?
First, we can become aware. Check. Now what? Well, we can create access to those blind spots. How, you ask? By being open to those that we are surrounded by.
Yep. It is those people that surround us inside of an open communication system where we can learn about our blind spots. Important. Here is another whiteboard to illustrate.
What this whiteboard creates is an important distinction that I’ve written about quite extensively on this website, and in many other contexts. Relationships and the interdependent nature of those relationships equals collaboration; and collaboration is where the access is. Yep.
As a matter of fact, the Monday message that went out to the team I work with today, was all about relationships, and just how important they are in all of our lives.
It is through these relationships that we can gain access to our blind spots. Don’t have those kinds of relationships? That’s okay.
You can create them. Really. You can. Why wait. There are so many people on this planet that are interested in the things that you are interested in.
And, guess what?
You know things about your interest, and so will they. And, I can guarantee you that you will both learn from each other. Uncovering blind spots for each other along the way. No matter what the topic.
What we are discussing in this post has been written about for thousands of years. Here is an example.
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” -Socrates (469-399 B.C.)
I love this quote. There are many others like it, written similarly across all cultures. When we recognize that we know way less than there is to learn, and know, we immediately become open to new experiences, and new perspectives.
When we are open, and are in conversation and relationships with people that are interested in our growth, as we are in theirs, our blind spots are regularly pointed out. That is learning. It is the best kind of learning.
Ever heard of the socratic method? Here’s a snippet.
“In the Socratic method, the classroom experience is a shared dialogue between teacher and students in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning.”
I too love this quote, however, I’m going to offer you a new way to think about it. Consider that the world is your classroom, and that everyone you meet, and are in relationships with can be the person that you share this kind of learning experience with. Truly.
When we are open, interested in learning from someone more than expounding on that which we know, we can learn something from almost anyone we meet.
Really. It is a beautiful experience.
Of course, we must be willing to, in a way, let go of that which we know. Let it go, and start listening, and taking in that which other people know. In the end, guess what? We end up knowing more. Yep.
When, however, we aren’t open, guess what? We get to keep that which we know, yes; yet, we miss out on the opportunity to add to that which we know. A truly missed opportunity.
My invitation to you
Don’t let those learning opportunities pass you by. Grab them while they are here. And, offer them back to those that you meet. For, they, like you, have something to learn from you.
We all have something to learn from each other. And, when we approach our relationships and interactions with that attitude. Phew. We can learn so much. You can learn so much. Start today.
Ask questions, listen, and believe. Believe in your ability to add to that which you know, and to contribute to someone else’s knowledge base. You can.
That is movement. Movement for yourself, for those you are in relationships with, and for all of humanity.