If You Want To Have More Ideas, Ask More Questions

If You Want To Have More Ideas, Ask More Questions

Centuries ago astrologers believed that the earth was the center of the universe. Doctors believed that leeches were a cure for nearly any disease.  Scientists once believed that fire was made from an element called phlogiston. Mothers believed that giving morphine to a crying baby would calm them down. OK, I guess that’s technically correct, but you get the point right?

When I was a kid, my cousin and I believed that if you sniffed a can of gas, it would make you run faster. We also regularly checked any patch of dirt after it rained a lot because you know – quicksand.  I once thought I could dive into a pool from the second floor of an apartment building (I have a nice scar from that lesson).  I once asked my grandmother what the world was like when they lived in black and white.

When I was a teenager, I thought that “being cool” was something you could learn, not something you had to create. I thought that my friends would be with me forever. When I learned how to program Pascal in the ninth grade, I remember thinking “I’m glad I won’t have to learn another programming language.”

When I was in college, I thought I knew a lot until I realized how much I didn’t know.

I’ve been wrong a lot, and I’m OK with that.  For me the greatest success has come from asking the right questions, not having all the answers.  If you wait until you’ve gained every bit of knowledge about something you want to try, you are going to get passed up.

There isn’t always a “right” answer for a challenge you might face.  There are however lots of great questions you can ask. So many professions are built around the false belief that knowledge is power. I believe that knowledge is not nearly as important as being aware of and comfortable with what you don’t know. Relying on the power of inquiry to get the answers you need is the real superpower.

Ask 100 Questions – Questions Are Better Than Ideas

I once had a professor tell me that true wisdom knows what questions to ask, not what answers to give.  I didn’t appreciate this nugget until I started keeping a daily idea quota. Generating ten ideas a day is a lot easier if you are fluent in asking questions.   To get better here is an exercise you can do when you have 40-60 minutes of uninterrupted time.

It’s called the 100 Question Challenge and it’s pretty simple.  The challenge is to write out 100 questions in one sitting and I’ve created a workbook to facilitate that process that you can download below. It’s one step to increasing your capacity for ideas by honing your question-asking skills.

100 Question Challenge

Download my 100 Question challenge workbook to help you work through the challenge

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