Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that basically us humans are clueless when it comes to answering the Big Questions. [Life-Its-Own-Self is a big Mystery. Wonder and awe are appropriate responses.]
THE QUESTION-BOX KID
I confess: I was that Question-Box Kid who kept asking adults the stumper “why” questions all the time. It is not a good survival trait in a culture where young ones are supposed to watch and listen and learn.
I don’t think I was built for all that big-eyed, bated-breath wonderment stuff – the one where you go, “Oh, wow, Big Person, tell me what I need to know.”
I thought the Big Guys were keeping me from figuring out the all-of-everything. It was all a conspiracy, I figured. I was going to hammer the Big Stuff really fast so I could just go out there and DO stuff, just like them….maybe better than them. Ha-ha!
I was, I think, an annoying piece of work. I survived my childhood mostly because I was surrounded by people who were too slow on their feet to catch and strangle me.
THE BIG SIX – WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, AND WHY
Later on, I finally did figure out that the WHY questions have no pat answers. You can ask WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN and HOW questions from sunrise to sunset and get some pretty solid answers from other people.
The answers you get to those kinds of questions are productive. You can do stuff with them and make things happen.
WHY questions, on the other hand, are always….debatable. They lead to arguments and dissension and lots of disagreements between people. Wars have been started over differing WHY-question answers.
FROM ONE TRUTH TO ANOTHER
The thing is, the answers to WHY questions are not necessarily “right” or “wrong.” Like the answers to the other questions, the answers to WHY questions either work or they don’t work. The problem is the answers to the WHY questions only work for some people and not for others.
The answers to the WHY questions are always one Truth or another. But, each person sees Truth in their own way and sometimes one person’s Truth will absolutely contradict another person’s Truth.
Finding the WHY-question answers that work for you are a lot of work. The deal is, though, those answers are the absolute bottom-rock foundation for adding meaning and mana to your life.
The wise guys say that all the answers to the WHY questions are already inside of you. For some reason, they’re obscured by assorted issues and assumptions and other-people stuff.
It’s the price of admission for coming into this world, that. That’s what you get for coming into the world as this helpless little being that has to depend on all these other people to keep you alive.
(To avoid all that, the wiser guys point out, you would have to come into the world as a fully-realized being, already self-sufficient and smart enough not to say much. That comes with a different set of problems that might end up with you getting burned at the stake or crucified or something. REALLY not a good thing.)
Things being the way they are, it means that you have to develop “creative discovery skills.” Since nobody else actually knows the answers that are going to work for you, you have to go find them your own self. It requires you to ask the right questions.
Here’s a TEDx Tokyo talk by James Curleigh about “Asking the Right Questions.” (At the time the video was made, Curleigh was the president and CEO of Keen Footwear. He has since become Levi’s brand president.) It really sounds like the guy asks a lot of questions too….
CREATIVE DISCOVERY SKILLS
Creative discovery skills are actually just a matter of asking questions that look past previous assumptions. The more forethought you put into the questions you ask, the better answers you get and the more options you uncover.
It’s kind of like turning over rocks and leaves and overturned boxes and such and finding out what’s under them, then taking all the stuff under them (plus maybe some of the stuff you overturned as well) to make a whopping cool new thing.
This is pretty much the definition for how scientists and inventors and artists and craftsmen and business innovators came up with all these fantastic new ideas and products that surround us today.
PLAYING WITH OTHERS
It’s a lot more fun when you can share these skills with other people. To do that, you mostly have to just ask their permission to play in this new way and then invite them to join in.
When you encounter stuck-in-the-mud resistance, the best response is usually asking another question.
Keep asking questions until the other person starts thinking too…even if they’re only thinking of ways to block you.
Remember that they are doing you a favor when they try to block you.
You get to think about their objections and propositions and see whether you can find ways around them. Their objections help you refine your own way of dancing and point out your mistakes or missteps.
Eventually, if you both stick with this way of playing, you may find some common place where you can stand together and start making something together.
There is a very useful communication skills article (as well as a very good video by Yashwant Schinde) on the Mind Tools Club website that you might want to check out. You can click HERE to do that.
Mind Tools is an online educational/business training organization that was established in 1996. It works with top global corporations as well as individual entrepreneurs and careerists to help them increase productivity, improve management and leadership skills and all that good stuff.
If you like what you see, you can even join the club for a not-unreasonable price. (The standard membership is $19/month after the first month for $1.) You can also subscribe to their free newsletter.
You do have to watch out and make sure you’re not being a pest when you play this game, but sometimes even being a pest will get the other person off their duff.
If you get really good at it, their getting off their duff is not going to be because they are so mad at you they want to beat you into the dirt. (You know you’re good when you can take off your running shoes and not bother with them any more.)
Here’s a poem:
WORLD VS REAL
In the World, where most people live
There’s Science and Security,
Answers, Deadlines and Objectivity.
There’s hustle, bustle and activity.
Things happen “because” and “so that.”
And the people think
They can run from Death,
Not realizing that they are
Carrying him on their backs.
In the Real, where some people go,
There are questions and puzzles
And no thought and no time.
Things happen as they happen
And they are all connected
And the connections are all there is.
And Death is an ally
That helps you dance more deeply.
And when one day you’re done,
He’ll be the one to take you home.
by Netta Kanoho
Header photo credit: Sunrise from Mount Haleakala by Brian Snelson via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
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