No change without questions


Ignoring uncomfortable questions is no option, as they will come back to haunt us sooner or later. Not asking any questions is the best way to stay ignorant. It’s better to ask a dumb question than to die dumb.

If that is true, do dumb questions exist at all?

“A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes.”
(Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, writer and philosopher)

We must therefore ask nasty, outrageous, heretic questions, which at first will be despised as being stupid, irrelevant and ridiculous, even insane, by the establishment. We must question what is and ask what could be.

“Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers.”
(Voltaire, philosopher)

“Every sentence I utter must be understood not
as an affirmation, but as a question.”
(Niels Bohr, physicist)

“Why” is a very powerful word and a very radical question, as it gets to the root of things.

Ever notice, how curious kids can drive their parents crazy with their questions?

A while back, I overheard the following conversation between a mother and her young child:

Mother: “It’s time to go home.”

Child: “Why?”

Mother: “Because it’s getting late.”

Child: “Why?”

Mother: “Because it’s time to eat.”

Child: “I am not hungry.”

Mother: “You have to eat.”

Child: “Why?”

Mother: “To stay healthy and to grow up.”

Child: “I don’t want to grow up.”

Mother: “All children grow up.

Child: “Why?”

Mother (slightly exhausted): “Because that’s the way it is.”

Child: “Why?”

Mother (still exhausted): “That’s enough, let’s go.”

Child: “Why? I don’t want to go.”

Sound familiar?

The conversation, or rather interrogation, continued and I must admit feeling sorry for the mother. But that is the way kids are. They are curious, want to learn, know and understand. They don’t feel stupid asking questions and are not trying to give their parents a hard time either.

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year old,
you haven’t understood it yourself.”
(Albert Einstein, physicist)

“The most important thing to teach your children is
that the sun does not rise and set. It’s the Earth that
revolves around the sun. Then teach them the concepts
of North, South, East and West and then they relate to
where they happen to be on the planet’s surface at that
time. Everything else will follow.”
(Richard Buckminster Fuller, system theorist and author)

Questioning the obvious is especially exciting, because we often find out that there is no convincing reason why “it is the way it is”.

For example, think about soup:

Why do we say that we eat our soup?

Just because we use a spoon?

Why do we use a spoon?

Why do we say that we drink water?

Because we use a glass?

Why don’t we put soup in a glass and drink it too?

“What has never been doubted, has never been proven.”
(Denis Diderot, philosopher)

In other words, before asking “can I make or do this better?”, ask “why am I making or doing this at all?”.

It is important to think things through and that means keeping on asking questions to get to the root. A radical, but necessary approach. Not only that, it’s also a rational approach.

“No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man
who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.”
(Karl Popper, philosopher of science and professor)

Let’s look at food or the replacement thereof:

No more food as we know it potentially means no more plants, vegetables, fruit, cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats and so on. Unless they are growing and roaming free of course. It also means no more agriculture or agribusinesses, irrigation, fertilizers, anabolic drugs, pesticides, farmers and farm machinery. No animal transports, no slaughtering houses, no food processing plants, no food conservation, no food packaging, no food storage, no food transportation, no supermarkets, no butchers, no bakers. No restaurants, no chefs, no waiters, no tablecloth, no napkins, no plates, no cutlery, no glasses, no cups, no refrigerators, no ovens, no grills, no microwaves, no dishwashers, no cookbooks. No teeth, no toothbrush, no toothpaste, no dentists, no indigestion, no toilet paper. No food subsidies, no food stamps. No hunger, no famines. No………

The IQ – the intelligence quotient – is not the measure of all things, the EQ – the emotional qotient – matters as well..

But what is our QQ – our question quotient?

Asking “why” not only leads to better decisions, it also questions the status quo, thereby enabling innovation and change for the better.

“The manager asks how and when,
the leader asks what and why.”
(Warren Bennis, leadership consultant)

Time to lead!

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