Asking Great Questions (Pt 1)
I recently heard an interview of Ken Coleman, author of the book, “One Question: Life-Changing Answers from Today’s Leading Voices.” Ken knows the power of a good question and has interviewed a diverse group of people including former President Jimmy Carter, Tony Dunge, Tony Hawk, Senator John McCain, Tim Tebow, Jim Collins, and a host of other people I wish I could meet.
People like to be interviewed by Ken because he asks great questions. The conversation is animated and people leave the interview better informed and feeling heard.
Ken shared a study from the University of Michigan that found the average person at the eighth grade level is only asking about 2-3 questions a day. My girls are five right now and I think they hit about 2-3 questions per sentence. By the time we finish breakfast we are breaking 100 questions. It just never ends and the questions are all over the map. Last week we had a whole series of questions based on the dead raccoon we saw in the road on the way to church. My favorite, “Would the raccoon die more if it got run over again?”
I love these questions and I feel sad when I consider they may be extinct in a few short years. Ken theorizes that one of the reasons that curiosity is quenched is that our education system focuses teaching kids to answer questions, how to test well rather than ask questions. I agree that the school system, work, and life in general values answers over questions, but I think there is responsibility not only with schools but also with parents. Questions can be annoying, challenging, and difficult. There are times that we just want quiet and peace and don’t want to be dealing with hard questions.
There is power in a great question. Ken says, “Good questions inform but great questions transform. When you ask a great question that unlocks life’s big answers, then you change the way you think and believe and when you change the way you think and believe then you change the way you act.”
What would happen if we asked more great questions at home? How could our kids’ lives be impacted if we model and teach them how to ask great questions?
Over the next few blog entries we are going to talk about several key areas to question. Great questions aren’t easy. If you are like me, you are in the habit of trying to give great answers rather than ask great questions.
Ken divided his book into three sections and just to make my life easier I’m using the same sections:
My hope is that we emerge from this series with more questions and more clarity.
So I’ll leave you with something to think about: Who do you know that seems to ask great questions, how has talking with them helped you, and what have you learned from them?
*Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from the EntreLeadership Podcast titled, “The Art of Asking”