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?