when the question is the servant

11 time for questions that

There are times when questions are not servants.

When they’re after the answers the questioner wants to hear.

When they want to prove you’re wrong, or stupid, or unfit.

“And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.”*

Quick answers, easy answers, predictable answers, steal from us the exploring of possibilities.

Great questions are beautiful in their form.  Michael Bungay Stanier offers “And what else?” as a question that can be asked several times to go deeper:

‘More recent studies have found that follow-up questions that promote higher-level thinking (like “And what else?”) help deepen understanding and promote participation.’**

Another example is, “Why is that important to you?”  A simple question that can be asked several times.  Krista Tippett holds that a beautiful question elicits a beautiful answer, and a generous question elicits a generous answer.

Servant-questions desire the best for others, trying to help people across the boundaries preventing them reaching their future Self.  We live, though, in a culture that goes for quick answers, running too quickly for structure.  Questions prolong the mess, yet the mess is where some of the most beautiful of future possibilities can appear.

“I’m a firm believer in the chaotic nature of the creative process needing to be chaotic.  If we put too much structure on it, we kill it.”^

(*Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit.)
(^Pixar producer Lindsey Collins, quoted in Creativity, Inc..)

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