“On s’engage et puis … on voit.”
“First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens.”
“Understanding why was more interesting than understanding who.
The story of why things are the way they are is heartbreakingly beautiful.”
“The fire which enlightens is the fire which consumes.”
I almost called this “existing answers versus new answers.” If you think about it, curiosity is a multidimensional “thing.” I do know Curiosity is possibly the most important characteristic of anyone who is good at what they do.<in life & in business>. But “good” comes in a variety of shapes & sizes and sometimes those shapes & sizes are crafted by one thing: “do we care more about the question or the answers?”
What I mean by that is finding the truth, or the best answers, is very rarely a linear process. Therefore the question & answer sequencing to that truth is not linear. Oops. I tend to believe most people use question & answer in a “that begets that” way.
I would argue that is a reflection of believing the answer is more important than the question. And when you do that all that means is if you get the first question right <and a shitload of us do not> the truth is arrived at like in a sequence of dominos. That’s not the way logic works <although we like to discuss logic that way>.
Discovering creative outcomes & ideas <i.e., answers to questions> typically comes down to attempting to maintain perspective and looking at things differently <which often doesn’t translate into ‘methodically’>.
I would note here that “mental models” are not “mental methods.”
Models are not just ways of thinking about things but, as a generalization, you think with a curiosity in an inevitable change in thinking. This all gets embodied in a process of information, education, dialogue, and ultimately, the insights generated from the process which will drive the choices.
Which leads me to ‘asking questions’ <because the only way you can gain insights is by actually asking questions>.
I don’t know why but it seems like there is a growing fear to ask questions these days –especially by leaders. I have a number of theories why it’s happening but let’s just accept it is happening. I say that because not asking questions leads to, well, worry <or the verb worrying>.
In the short term, absent of question/answer work, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems. The mind is only happy when it’s working. So it worries <useless energy> or it asks questions. Even the latter is tricky because neuroscience suggests you will be happier even if you don’t find an answer. Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts and all the scraps of potential answers you pick up along the way.
So why not ask it to work on the right things? Worrying over shit is wasted energy at least questions/answers has the possibility of energy used well.
This permits me to talk about searching. Because how you search for answers <the questioning> will impact how well, or how much you suck, at how you view the answer.and ultimately the decision I imagine>. Yeah. How you view the decision is actually more important than discussing the decision itself.
We don’t discuss this insight-to-decision relationship enough. Because of that we sometimes ignore how we gather information, assess information, discern information and use the right information to ultimately make a decision. This is relevant to ‘not asking questions’ because if you don’t ask questions you will inevitably lean in on past experience <which is, in this context, existing ‘answers’ you have to offer>.
I will not invest a lot of energy on this because it’s obvious that leaning in solely on past experience is not only fraught with peril but just plain stupid. Gathering information from one source is always dangerous it just becomes increasingly dangerous if your past experience is the sole source.
Regardless. My last point.
Suffice it to say, the best question/answer leaders almost slowdown in gathering information, and ask questions, to speed up <in the decision and its effectiveness>.
Maybe we don’t talk about this because if we did … and described it that way … it sounds … uhm … slow.
(repeat as needed)
Yeah. It can be slow. It can also be fast. I would argue it should take as long as it should take and no longer. I would also argue that while the past can play a role it will also not be likely to provide “the” answer. It can inform but will not be the answer.In the end. What I would argue is that:
- Without questions, you gain no new learning
- Bad questions lead to wasted energy, bad answers & more fear (it’s a doom loop)
- Questioning & gaining answers have no speed control. it moves at whatever pace is necessary, neither fast nor slow. Directing speed seems silly.
- Recognizing mental models can help limit bias
- Embracing mental models can help unlimited thinking, questions and, inevitably, answers.
- If you thrive on destinations, you will never be happy with questions and answers lifestyle. Each answer begets a new question, therefore, true question & answer is on a never-ending infinite loop.
- A mind likes to work. If you do not fill it with questions and answers it will worry at anything, even nonsensical things, like a bored dog with a bone.
We all need new answers all the time. The only way to get a new answer is to ask questions and learn. In other words, be curious.
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A version of this post was previously published on BruceMcTague.com and is reprinted with the permission of the author.
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