If you want to be successful and reach your leadership potential, you need to embrace asking questions as a lifestyle. Here’s why:
You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask
Have you ever failed to ask a question because you thought it might be dumb? I have! Too many times I’ve allowed my desire not to look foolish to keep me from gaining knowledge that I needed. Richard Thalheimer, the founder of the Sharper Image, once asserted, “It is better to look uninformed than to be uninformed.” For that reason we need to curb our egos and ask questions, even at the risk of looking foolish.
If you’re worried that asking questions will make you look bad, let me give you some perspective. I enjoy reading Marilyn vos Savant’s column in Sunday’s Parade magazine. Listed in Guinness World Records for “Highest IQ,” she answers difficult and often bewildering questions from readers. In her column of July 29, 2007, she decided to share questions she found difficult to answer, not because they were too tough, but because—well, take a look:
- “I notice you have the same first name as Marilyn Monroe. Are you related?”
- “Do you think daylight saving time could be contributing to global warming? The longer we have sunlight, the more it heats the atmosphere.”
- “I see falling stars nearly every night. They seem to come out of nowhere. Have stars ever fallen out of any known constellations?”
- “When I dream, why don’t I need my glasses to see?”
- “Can a ventriloquist converse with his dentist while his teeth are being worked on?”
- “I just observed a flock of geese flying in a ‘V’ formation. Is that the only letter they know?”
Now don’t you feel better about the quality of your questions?
If you want answers, you must ask questions.
John C. Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership (New York City, NY: Center Street, 2014).
I believe asking questions is one of the best ways to teach. Toward this end, I have devoted a good part of my life to writing discussion-based Bible study lessons that have groups talking. Check them out at www.mybiblestudylessons.com