What's the worst that could happen?
There is no such thing as a stupid question – a well known truism. Yet, when it comes to learning, we almost stop asking basic and thought-provoking questions from a young age.
Anyone who knows children between three and five years old will be familiar with the constant stream of questions about absolutely everything. As we grow, we’re discouraged from this continual questioning (usually by exhausted parents who just want some peace).
When we stop asking questions, we stop finding answers.
We’re praised for answering questions, but strangely we’re not rewarded for asking them. This happens as we enter primary school and continues into our employment.
As technology has sped up the pace of our lives, we’re no longer content to take time to consider – answers must be immediate, and decisive. This leads to rushed decisions and conclusions often missing key pieces of information. We may try to save time with poor decision-making, but it often means more work to repair the damage in the long run.
The simple action of asking questions can also make us feel (and sometimes look) vulnerable; someone who is not in control or simply does not know. That’s a challenging dilemma to face. How often have you kept quiet when you really should have spoken up?
Could this behaviour be tied to a feeling that we should be seen to have all the answers? Do we feel we should know better by now? Or is it that we’ve simply forgotten how to ask intelligent, detailed questions as we quickly make a decision?
Don’t forget that every major innovation in human history came from a process of inquisitive thought, perseverance, and asking the right questions.
Remember to slow down, take heed and make the time to ask questions that rouse thought and broaden our situational understanding before jumping to conclusions and taking action. For business leaders, fostering an environment that encourages active questioning is equally important. Empowering employees to tap into their naturally curious four-year-old selves will result in deeper understanding and better outcomes.
In the end, if we never asked ourselves what was over that hill, where would we be today?