Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media
Scene4 Magazine — Martin Challis
Martin Challis
Scene4 Magazine-inView

november 2008

A Powerful Question

I am enamoured by the power of the question. More than that: I am enamoured by the power of the powerful question. A powerful question has the potential to invite consideration, incite the imagination and open the mind to possibility.

A powerful question has ingredients. It takes time to form. In a paraphrased quotation, Albert Einstein said:

"If I had a problem to solve, and only had an hour to solve the problem and my life depended on solving the problem, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, because once I had the proper question I could solve the problem in less than five minutes."

The ‘proper question’ for me is a powerful question. Whether I am working in the field of personal transformation, cultural change or organisational reform I know that my ability to be effective depends on my ability to form powerful questions.

Recently I attended an Art of Hosting seminar in the Dandenong Ranges two hours outside of Melbourne. One of the sessions explored the qualities of a powerful question. The group conducted a World Café through a series of conversations.

Some of the qualities that were harvested from the conversations determined that a powerful question:

·        Is simple, fearless and genuine.

·        Asks without disempowering.

·        Forces reflection and forges action.

·        Links to purpose.

·        Challenges assumptions.

·        Makes the invisible visible.

·        Evinces deeper questions that lead to enquiry and learning.

 

Albert Einstein also said “the important thing is not to stop questioning”. If I consider a world without questions I see a world of no learning, a world with no design, art, creativity or transformation. I see a world that slowly and surely atrophies with mechanistic certainty into a state of oblivion. I see a world that accepts status quo and the power of ‘the other’, be it institution, government or autocrat to determine future and impose structure. I see a world of no answers: a world full of unsolved problems.

This is why I am enamoured by the power of the question. Without a powerful question I cease to grow and I cease to learn. The powerful question I have been asking myself of late is: “Who am I when I am in my greatest power?”

What’s your powerful question? 

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©2008 Martin Challis
©2008 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Martin Challis is a teacher, program designer and facilitator of
organisational change. He is currently completing his doctorate
in Creative Industries. He's also a Senior Writer and Columnist for Scene4.
 
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives
Read his Blog

 

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