The Power of a Question: 5 Ways Questions Can Change Your Life
Many of the most profound thinkers throughout the course of human history have recognized the power of a good question. A good question is like an all purpose tool, capable of being used in any situation to shed light on a new way to look at the world. Francis Bacon once said:
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
I am inclined to agree. The right questions are key for helping us be on the path to our best selves. When we are not living focused on the question, that means we are instead focused only on the answer - static and void of possibility. The power of a question is that it helps us get on the right track in so many ways. Below are five ways a good question can help change our lives.
1. Questions help us find our purpose.
One my idols Dr. James Hollis offers that our lives find their purpose "not in answers but in living large questions that are worthy of the soul's magnitude." Life isn’t about the search for answers, it is about the questions themselves. It’s cliche, but it is true that life is about the journey, not the destination. Our biggest and most exciting journeys show themselves when we align ourselves with our biggest and most powerful questions.
In my case, one question I like to sit in is, “how can I help the most people possible step into their best lives?” When I exist from this question, every moment is an opportunity to find and live my purpose because anything is possible. One way to find out if you are asking the right question to find your purpose is to find your superpower. Your superpower is at the heart of all of your gifts and values, and if you can translate that into a question (like mine above) then you will be well on your way to living your highest purpose.
2. Questions help us transform ourselves and the conversations we are having.
Peter Block, an expert on organization development, community building, and civic engagement, recognizes the power of a question. Block felt that “questions are more transformative and are the essential tools of engagement… if you want to change the context, find powerful questions.”
When we focus too much on the answers that we are looking for, we get stuck inside a box. We lose track of what exists outside of it because we are focusing on just one possibility.
I don’t think the saying should be, “think outside the box.” I think it should be, “question outside the box,” because it is only by asking new questions that we can start to change the conversations we are having.
3. Questions offer enlightenment.
Roman-French Playwright Eugene Ionesco said, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” It is in the space of a new, profound question, that we find new awareness. The power of a question is that it opens a doorway to new understanding of our selves and the world.
4. Questions change the future.
Godwin M.A. Hlatshwayo, a Strategy Development and Implementation practitioner, observed that questions are “the chamber through which destiny calls.” Peter Block noted that “Questions create the space for something new to emerge.” Much like questions offer enlightenment, they also provide new contexts to act upon. Without the understanding that we gain from a powerful question, we would not be able to take the necessary action to change the future.
5. Questions help us get unstuck.
When we get stuck in our lives it can be because we have moved away from living in the question. The power of questions are that they let us exist in possibility, and when we stop living in the question it is because we fixate on one possibility.
When we start focusing on the answer instead of the question, when we get fixated on one possibility, we stop being able to see any other possibilities life offers.
If your sole goal is to get a job at X company, then you lose sight of all the possibilities that exist outside of that one goal. Maybe company Y is a much better fit for you based on your values, but you will never know it unless you are living in the question of, “where can I find the best, most authentic place to work for me?”
When I feel stuck I have to remind myself to sit in possibility, to live in the art of the question. Two of my favorite questions are:
What pattern wants to rest here?
What possibilities want to emerge here?
Asking these questions invites me to step back from the limited possibilities I am focused on to find direction and to see possible next steps.
One of the most important parts of living in the question is not to try to answer the question. When we try to answer the question, we limit what life can deliver to us in response. We put our blinders on and are unable to see whatever other possibilities might await us if we didn't try to answer the question.
When we stand in the silence and in the echo of the magic life has to offer, we invite the field of infinite possibilities to bring something so grand that it surpasses our wildest dreams. When we don’t seek to limit what life can deliver, life can choose what it wishes to deliver. And what life has planned for you is so much bigger than what you can plan for yourself.
Living in question means using questions to bypass limited answers your mind provides. The more you live in the question, the more infinite possibilities will show up for you. You can bypass 90 percent of the steps that humans have to go through to create something when you are willing to have the magic and live in the question. (from Gary Douglas and Dain Heer’s Magic. You Are It. Be It.)
Next time you feel stuck try asking yourself a question. Something that encourages you to expand your field of vision, something that allows you to see the steps to the next larger system. After all, with the power of a question, anything is possible!
Standing in the possibilities and sending you lots of llama llove.
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