The Art of the Question: Finding Better Answers

BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front) Intentional questions provide a lens for clarity and more authentic outcomes.

In today’s world, the norm seems to be an aspiration towards superhuman achievement. Every social cue nudges us towards doing and being MORE — Better careers, greater success, more influence, greater impact, enhanced virtues, perfect family, more fulfillment… And yet, the irony stands: sages throughout time have pointed us towards LESS. They guide us towards impermanence, simplicity, and the moments that matter, to live a whole, fulfilled, complete life. In trying to do it all, we risk losing our sanity. The questions we ask ourselves can become our sage, providing that magic we all strive for in our ephemeral journey here.

Today’s culture is saturated with ‘How To’s and ‘7-Steps’, which can be overwhelmingly nauseating. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution or guarantee. It’s an internal compass, drawing you towards a more perfect outcome, or path, that’s right for you. Develop your questions — those deeply personal to you, those holding you accountable, and those bringing clarity to your life.

Here are a few questions I come back to, though not as often as I should. They don’t offer quick answers but hours and days of wrestling, frustrations, and ambiguous meanings. That’s the point though. Inside the right questions live better answers, understand the real inputs, the shadow thoughts and gods we serve and discover a more perfect path for what gives us life.

Ask Yourself: When questioning decisions, use the following questions as a lens. They can help weigh potential realities and guide you to a better path. Write out as many outcomes, thoughts, and conflicts that come to mind. Answer for yourself only, not to please others or chase external definitions of success.

1) Freedom: Does this give me more freedom or less? How will my day-to-day freedoms and autonomy change? Think about the actual freedom to live life and the freedom of time — the only true economy.

2) Fulfillment — Expanding vs. Subtracting: Will this expand what fulfills me? Is it removing problems, conflicts, and negative friction I want less of? Am I honest about what is expanding and subtracting on this path?

3) Audience: Who am I serving with this decision? Am I making this decision for myself, or is it based on others’ perceptions of me?

4) Values: Does this align with my core values? If not, how might it erode my internal value system and integrity?

5) Potential: Will this decision unleash more of my dormant potential or diminish it?

6) Utility: What will my real utility be? How will it impact humanity on both a micro and macro scale?

7) Learning: Will this teach me something new? Is this in alignment with the person I aspire to be?

8) Character: Who is the character I am creating? Choose your avatar. How will this decision affect who I want to be in five or ten years?

9) Problem: Is the problem you’re having the actual problem? Or instead is it a lack of resources, advice, solutions? Isolate the true source of the issue that is causing discomfort.

Bonus Question: (Credit to my partner)

Apocalypse Question: In a sci-fi apocalypse scenario, what skills do you have? Think about survival skills in a world with a massive decrease in population without technology or modern conveniences. What can you do with your hands to aid your survival, your tribe and that of your species?

Now that you’ve taken the time to think about these questions, invest the time. Write out your answers to yourself. Discuss with your mentor, friends or partner and embrace the practical skills behind why we do anything. Discovering the right questions to ask ourselves can open gateways to new lives,

and unexplored worlds…

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