Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

What About a Book of Questions?

I don’t have any answers for you. Only experts purport to have answers for other people. And expertise makes sense in limited, technical domains. But ask anybody who applies a complicated set of tools or skills for a client what the hardest part is? They will never say that using the tools and skills are hard. The hard part for an expert cabinet-maker is helping the client figure out what they really want in a set of cabinets. The hard part for an expert developer is nailing down the software requirements. The hard part for a Realtor… yeah, you get it.

One of the few things I know for sure is that no one is more of an expert in your life than you are. Nobody else has that kind of time to devote to your existence. You think someone else is going to be better at discovering what will make you happy than you are? Not a chance. The hard work of disciplining your own ego and finding a way to be happy in this uncertain world can only be done by you.

So my idea for today is, what about a list of questions, hard questions, that, if someone took the time to answer, would help them really figure out what they believed, what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it? What would that list be like? Would it be different for everyone or could it be universal? I suspect that the questions are universal, and the answers are what makes us individuals.

There is already a Book of Questions but those questions are interesting,but not the kind that I find particularly helpful.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about any one thing about yourself, life or the future, or anything else, what would you want to know and why?

If a country hit the U.S. with a nuclear bomb, would you favor unleashing our nuclear arsenal upon them?

Do you think the world will be a better or worse place 100 years from now. Do you see our present world as a better place than the world of a century ago? How so?

Of the three I picked from a quick skim, the last one is the most interesting to me. Because, presumably, how you answer it has some bearing on what you are going to do when you are done answering the question. Because that’s what I’m after. Questions to help me (or anyone) get more engaged in life and get more out of themselves.

But whatever the questions, I think a questioned-focused method of education is very, very sane.

I once went to hear Richard Saul Wurman speak. If you don’t know his work, you should, he is a brilliant man. One of the least impressive things he’s done is start the TED conference. In the middle of his fascinating talk he said this about education.

Look at a classroom. Teacher at the front asks questions. Students sit in neat rows and answer. It’s totally backwards. The one who ASKS the questions gets the EDUCATION.

I realize this that this idea edges over into self-help. But I think it’s on solid, stoic footing. First, because it’s not at all about self-esteem. But second because I believe we are, all of us, basically the ideas we have. So, to sharpen your idea of yourself is to sharpen yourself.

Look at it this way. If you don’t do something because you are afraid of it. Before you can do it, you first have to change your idea of the thing or the fear it causes.

Which leads to one of the more interesting questions I have come up with. What is your strategy for dealing with fear?

But that’s another post.

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