The Virtue Of Questions
Questions are like keys, James Ryan.
I like the simile that questions are like keys. My positive uncertainty strategy is all about questions. And questions are the keys to knowledge and understanding, and to illuminating your believing and seeing. With no questions there is certainty. James Ryan also says: But the truth is that questions are just as important as answers, often more so. James E. Ryan, Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and author of WAIT — WHAT?, 2017. That book is the reason for this blog. The book is full of “Life’s Essential Questions” and he recommends asking questions about yourself.
Questions of what, why and how lead to answers and more questions. It is hard to imagine reaching a point when questions are no longer needed. We all probably know someone, or two, who are good at giving answers but not so good at asking questions. It could be said that one question is worth many answers. To have answers if you don’t have questions doesn’t seem possible.
I’m sure I don’t need to mention the virtue of positive uncertainty regarding questions. Uncertainty means doubt and doubt means “I wonder if this is true”? Doubt, wonder, uncertainty lead to questions. Questions are seeking answers. Answers lead to a dead end.
I have said that asking what and how are always basic questions in decision making. The decision making questions of what and how are questions about yourself. “What do I want? Am I sure? Do I know how to get it?” What are the possibilities for me? What are the probabilities for me? Am I objective, rational? Asking questions about oneself is the hardest kind of question. It is helpful to ask others questions about you.
Here is what some others have said about questions:
Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing. Euripides
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. Francis Bacon
My favorite quote regarding the virtue of questions is from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective Thinking,Habit 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Covey says: to diagnose before you prescribe. Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. We are either speaking or preparing to speak.
A final word from James Ryan: You don’t need to be a world-class scientist or artist to appreciate the world contains mysteries and puzzles, or even to solve some of them. You just need to look around and ask questions.