Questions Increase Possibilities

To be wise has changed from being able to answer the questions

to being able to question the answers. Unknown

Children ask questions, adults give answers. Which is the best way to learn? Telling and talking are considered ways to teach. Asking and listening are considered ways to learn. It is probably true that most adults spend more time talking and answering questions than listening and asking questions.

To question or not to question? That is the question. Too much knowledge may inhibit the urge to question. It seems to be accepted that sometimes what you know can cause you to miss knowing something new and can prevent you from learning.

 Knowing is the antithesis of learning. George Land

One of my four Paradoxical Principles of Creative Decision Using Positive Uncertainty (2003) was “Be Aware and Wary of What You Know.” Being aware of what you know also includes being aware of what you don’t know. And because of the pace of the creation of new knowledge, being aware of old knowledge becoming obsolete is also useful. My Paradoxical Principle suggests being both aware and wary by questioning your own knowledge.

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Daniel J. Boorstin

Questions increase possibilities; answers decrease them. Here are some beginning suggestions for some self-searching decision making questions that increase possibilities for learning.

  • What else could I do? What else could happen? What else is possible?
  • What If I did this? What if this happened? What if that happened?
  • Am I being open-minded? Am I closed-minded?
  • Am I receptive to new and different ideas?
  • Do I pay attention to what is going on in my mind?
  • Is being on autopilot more comfortable for me?
  • Is there an elephant in the room I am ignoring?
  • Am I aware of my biases? What are they?
  • Why do people disagree with me?
  • Am I wrong?

Can you add other questions in search of learning? Are you a good listener? What would your friends say about you? Do you question your own ideas to increase possibilities? The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.

Nothing is more dangerous than having an idea,

when it is the only one you have. Emile Chartier


This entry was posted in Beliefs. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DON’T ASK, DON’T LEARN

  1. Gene Unger says:

    Thought provoking. Knowing can be the arthritis of learning. See u tomorrow. Gene

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Gobets Ursula says:

    H B,

    This blog was of particular significance for me. I feel that I was – unknowingly – quite handicapped in my youth because of my growing up in Nazi Germany where asking questions was very much discouraged – unless they were “politically correct”. In addition, my mother considered it bad manners to look around in a new environment, like visiting people’s homes. It is still amazing to me how much I don’t notice.

    I would love to talk about this – either with the group or just with you.


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