It’s the best compliment anyone can give me to tell me I’m thought-provoking. I mean, isn’t that the raison d’etre of every writer?
Now, there are two main reasons a post, treatise, or book is thought-provoking. The first is that it overturns your preconceived notions of how you thought things worked, and the second is when it asks powerful questions that force you to reflect and consider.
Ideally, every post I write does both. But of the two, I will settle for the second.
It’s no surprise that powerful question address the fundamentals. It’s all to easy to assume people operate on the same set of assumptions you do —- either because you don’t realize that they’re assumptions or because you believe yours is the only logical, rational, considered view to hold and that people you esteem could not possibly hold any other view.
Heh. That one’s always a bit of cold water in the face.
But to continue:
Powerful questions are powerful because they forse us to eamine what we thought we were certain of. They can often be daunting. But they’re not so bad when you go at them with an attitude of curiosity and scientific enquiry.
Powerful questions require you to be mindful, to pay attention. They often require stimulus. Conversation is my favorite kind of stimulus, but one of the BEST ways to stimulate these kinds of internal Q&As is to notice when people do things differently from the way you would do it. Instead of assuming they’re stupid, short-sighted or ignorant, try to make a case for it.
Ask yourself, what would have to change in my situation that would make me act that way? What’s the biggest drawback of my position? Perhaps the most interesting thing to do is to track down exactly what you’re thinking as you make a decision and ask yourself where did I learn that?
I recently apologized to my whole CataLyst after I realized I had treated them poorly. I had made certain assumptions about them based on what people who build lists for a living say about them —- not about what I know about them as people. It was a humbling moment, but I’m very glad I did it.
I would love for you to tell me the most powerful question YOU were ever asked?