Great questions are vital to growth and innovation. So you must start asking questions to reach those outcomes. I don't believe in stupid questions (unless someone is deliberately causing problems). Many people don't ask their questions because they fear embarrassment and ridicule. Never stop asking questions.

A Great Quest(ion)
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Why are questions so important?

  • Lead to Knowledge - Asking a great question to yourself or others will set you on a course of research and discovery. A great question may have multiple facets that lead you to novel discoveries you didn't set out to answer.

  • Generate Interesting Conversation - When in a group setting a great question will ignite the conversation. You will instantly be able to tell if your question has piqued the interest of anyone because they will jump in with their own thoughts or an add-on question. Someone that doesn't engage signals a lack of interest or that they need more time to process the question. Lively conversation is more enjoyable than passive nods or asides.

  • Challenge Preconceived Notions - A great question will challenge you and others to look beyond personal bias. You may have mentally picked a side, but keep an open mind and listen to where others journey with the question. You may stumble upon an exciting fringe topic. Don't limit yourself or innovative possibilities by physically or mentally checking out of a conversation that is midstream.

  • Show Your Curiosity - Asking questions (hopefully great ones) is a signal to others that you are curious and trying to learn. It also shows others that you are teachable. If you aren't asking questions, you may appear to be a "know-it-all" or "un-teachable". Those attitudes turn off others quickly. Curious people are interesting people. Be interesting.

  • Give You Momentum - A great question whether asked or answered by you will generate mental momentum. The goal is acting on that mental momentum to turn it into physical progress. When you stop asking questions your mental momentum will slow or halt. This is expressed as a "creative block" or feeling "burnt out". Asking great questions helps reenergize your mind.

What is the formula for a great question? Ask something that...

  • Feeds off of the knowledge and energy of the person or group you ask
  • Catches others off guard and makes them stop and really think (not just quickly respond)
  • Causes additional follow up questions by yourself or others
  • Is open ended (and can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no")
  • Benefits from multiple perspectives