communication, Change, leadership

The Power of a Question (2 min read)

Throughout history there have been some profound and powerful questions.

In 1938 Bud Abbot and Lou Costello famously asked, “Who’s on first?”

In 1957 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

During his inaugural speech in 1961, John F. Kennedy told Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

In 1969 Tootsie-Roll asked, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?” and in 2000 Lil’ Kim and Sisqo revisited that same question in a verrrry different context with their hit song, “How Many Licks”.

According to Shakespeare, “To be or not to be” was THE question, and French philosopher Voltaire implored us to “Judge a person by their questions rather than their answers.”

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins summarized why it’s important that we ask thoughtful questions when he said, “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

At the end of my communication workshops I tell the audience, “A natural close after you’ve taught something is to ask, “Are there any questions?” But what is the difference, however, if instead I were to say, “What questions do you have? What changed?”

[The point being that we can use language in the context of a well-articulated question to remove barriers to communication.]

Yesterday Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) asked Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh a simple yet immensely powerful question,

“Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?”

There's removing barriers, and then there is asking something which clearly conveys an unspoken message. There are no government laws regulating men’s bodies.

“No question is so difficult to answer as that for which the answer is obvious.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Our capacity to make an impact hinges on our ability to ask powerful questions - of ourselves, and of others.

As you head into your day, think about the questions that you ask, and then ask yourself if you can think of better questions.

Stay curious, my friends.