I once heard noted author and speaker Tony Robbins say, “If you want better answers, you need to ask better questions.” when I first heard him say that, I thought he was way off base. I mean, a question is a question, right? You get the answer and you move on. I have discovered that Tony was right, and I was wrong.
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I once heard noted author and speaker Tony Robbins say, “If you want better answers, you need to ask better questions.” when I first heard him say that, I thought he was way off base. I mean, a question is a question, right? You ask your question, get the answer and you move on. I have discovered that Tony was right, and I was wrong.
But it goes a level deeper than even what Mr. Robbins was saying. Let’s look at an example question. “How do we get more money for public schools?” Even assuming the best of intentions, assuming a true desire for better pre K-12 education on the part of the questioner, this approach typically leads only to more taxation. Try this as a better question. “How do we get the best pre K-12 education for all kids with the most efficient use of taxpayer funds?” The first question assumes that public schools are the best way to achieve the desired result, and that more money is main, and perhaps only, change that is needed. The second question opens the discussion to charters, vouchers and to spending money in public schools in a way that more of it is spent in the classroom, on salaries and supplies and the classrooms themselves, and less on administration. N.B. The second question does not imply any specific answers, it does open the discussion to more potential solutions.
Instead of simply looking to ask better questions, we need to get into the habit of asking questions that might–just might–lead to answers that we don’t want to hear. We must check and challenge our motivations prior to finding the questions, the best questions that will lead to the best answers.
The need to check and challenge our motivations prior to being able to ask the right questions can be applied to all of the key issues of the day. Let’s try a few more; we’ll repeat the school question for convenience:
- Improving failing schools: Often heard, “How do we get more money for public schools?” A better question: “How do we get the best pre K-12 education for all kids with the most efficient use of taxpayer funds?”
- Abortion: Often heard, “Why are we killing so many babies in the womb?” or “How do we make abortions more available?” Try these questions, “When does life begin?” and “When is it okay for the state to sanction the taking of a life? The first two questions assume the “correct” answer to the abortion question. The last two explore the question honestly.
- Climate change: Often heard, “Why can’t we do simple things like ban coal mining and coal-fired plants?” or “Why don’t the climate change true believers get it that this is simply the cyclical character of nature?” Try this question instead, “Is there a cure that is not worse than the disease?” In other words, is there a cure that is not more costly in terms of time, money and damage, and is better, more acceptable, than the effects of climate change? This question does not make any assumptions about who might be at fault; it simply asks the question of whether it is worth addressing and trying to retard/reverse climate change.
- Immigration: Often heard, “Why are we supporting all of these illegals?” or “Why can’t we honor DACA, and give all undocumenteds a path to citizenship??” Here’s a different approach, “Do you want open borders?” Once we have answered this last question honestly, everything else falls into place. Try it.
- Welfare: Often heard, “Why can’t we have something esential like Medicare for all?” or “Why am I working so hard to support people who don’t?” Here’s a different way of getting to the answer on welfare. “All societies tax and redistribute. How do we decide who truly cannot meet their responsibilities on one hand, and those who either don’t want to or have not tried hard enough on the other?” Once again, the first two questions assume the “correct” answer to the welfare question. Only the last question can lead to an honest exploration and workable approaches.
Do you have issues-based core question examples any to add? Changes to the above? I am interested.
Today’s key point. If we truly want to get to the right answers, then yes, we need to ask better questions. But first, first, we need to put aside our going in biases, and ask questions that might lead to the right answers, in some cases these will be answers that we don’t want to hear. If we do the hard work of clearing our minds of preconceived notions, the right questions will appear. And from the right questions, come the right answers.
Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:
- Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper.
Today’s application is straightforward:
- Personal Responsibility. Engage in the political conversation. Talk to people about how we get to the right answers. Show them love and trust as you do.
- Be your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; some will understand what you saying immediately, others will not. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.