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August 21st, 2018

What is a question?


Culturally, at this point in time, it seems as though we think of questions as a sort of lock where the answer is much like a key that unlocks the question, like an enigma, a puzzle, or a riddle.


But does this sort of image really capture the essence of a question?


We might think of the questions we ask others when we already know the answer, when we prompt people in certain directions of thought.  In this way, we test people, we see if they can conceive of the key to the conundrum that we have placed before them.


Perhaps we all know the strangely disappointing sense of surprise when we get a response that is equally valid, but not the answer we were planning on hearing.








A question is not one half of the call-and-response, jigsaw puzzle, one-key-fits-the-lock idea that we tend to carry around.


A question is an open-ended concept that creates forward momentum.


Just think about the word for a moment.


Question.  Take the last three letters off the word and what do you get?




A true question creates a doorway, a portal to a kind of adventure.  If only we have the courage to look at the unknown in this way, because questions are the first and ONLY TOOL  we have when it comes to the unknown.


Unfortunately, not all questions are equally useful, but as we describe THE ONLY TOOL, we see that a question can be used to sharpen itself.


Questions can breed better questions, if only they are turned back on themselves.


Often we need only ask: “Is this the best question I can ask about this dilemma right now?   What would be a better one?”


If we don’t ask the right question, then we can spend an awful lot of time on a quest that does not lead to our desired destination.  This is the sunk-cost fallacy in psychology, when we spend a disappointing amount of time and resources investing in something that does not ultimately lead to the outcome we want.


So when we find ourselves facing a dilemma or an undesirable circumstance, or waking up to a life we never sought nor wanted.  We might benefit from thinking of the current situation as a starting point.  We will stay stuck in that RUT unless we can mindfully craft the right question, which is really to say: what sort of quest must I go on in order to get to a better place?


Often that better place is a better state of mind.  This can be a very difficult concept to wrap a mind around.  We think of our brains and our bodies as static entities, which severely hinders the idea of radical change.  Fortunately we suffer from a heavy dose of myopia when it comes to this subject.  Over the course of a long enough time scale, we change, whether we like it or not.  Whether we direct it or not.  And this can be a powerful REALIZATION; one that opens us up to conscious direction.  A direction that we can choose.


Just as an archer uses both bow and arrow to achieve movement in a certain direction, this REALIZATION is an opportunity, just as there is always potential energy stored inside of a bow.  If we can hunt around for the right question, with the right destination in mind, then it becomes a simple matter of practicing our flawed execution and improving as we ITERATE in order to hit the mark and end up where we dream of going.


Just as asking the wrong question can set us on a quest to the wrong place,


we are perpetually – always – on a quest to find a better question, a better quest that will lead to a better life.



This episode references Episode 30: The Only Tool, Episode 124: Realization and Episode 121: Iterate



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Podcast Ep. 128: Question

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