If you can hold them

A while back I found this large essay about questions. I’ve been reading it repeatedly and found a number of interesting points (which will go on to become seeds for posts to Open + Curious.)

And questions are a tool you can use for that, as long as you’re able to hold them without immediately asking them (which shifts your focus onto answers). Leave the question in your mind as a thing to be figured out by your mind’s further interactions with the world.

~ Malcolm Ocean from, https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/08/10/questions-are-not-just-for-asking/

It struck me that the sense of wonder that I sometimes experience in a conversation may actually be exactly the same sense of wonder from childhood. Everything is possibility. Everywhere there is opportunity for learning. Everyone brings perspectives. All of which invites further interactions.

ɕ

Having a practice

What does it mean – “having a practice”? It is a very vague definition that can be used in many ways and can mean many things. As well as it can mean nothing at all, just referring to smoke and mirrors. The straightforward notion of “practice” in itself entails being involved in a process, repeatedly engaging in an activity with the end goal of achieving mastery in something. It can be both an empty description of a habit or it can be a phenomenon that fills human life with meaning.

~ Anna Bezuglova from, https://www.thebamboobody.es/blog/movement-practice-barcelona

I’ve often mentioned the power of asking movement enthusiasts for, “three words to describe your practice?” The power of my question comes both from the difficulty in summarizing and from the difficulty in describing one’s practice. And yes, I’ve made a note to see if I can get around to talking with Bezuglova on the Movers Mindset podcast.

ɕ

Better questions

Sounds like we’re losing our grit. We’ve been brought up to think we’re so smart and clever and that we don’t have to work hard for anything that we just give up when we come against a tough problem. The main difference between innovators and the rest of us is that innovators ask more and better questions.

~ Shane Parrish

slip:4a903.

Discourse

You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. There’s a reason why feelings scare us—because what they tell us and what the rest of the world tells us are often two different things.

~ Hugh MacLeod

slip:4a907.

This quote, I think, also alludes to the problem of people “not getting” new ideas. It turns out that the same problem exists for old ideas to which people have grown unaccoustomed through lack of use.

Online discussion in forums is not a new idea. It’s a time-tested idea; They can be a space to focus interaction. There are ground rules. There’s a border defining what’s inside and what’s outside. Those inside have skin in the game. There is accountability.

The challenge is for each of us to resume engaging in reasoned discourse with others. That can be done in many places, not just in online forums. But in general, we’ve lost it in, (something like,) the last ten years when the current incarnation of the social networks rose and ate our attention.

ɕ

Difficult questions

What would be a good question to ask? How do I evaluate a potential question, in real time during a conversation, to decide if it’s good? What can I do to make this guest enjoy this conversation? In the same vein: What should I do? And what, if anything, must I do? What does this person really want to talk about? What don’t they want to talk about? And if I figured that out, is the right thing to, to honor their desire to avoid it, or to help them face it? Can I help them more by letting them find their own energy level, or by trying to help them change their energy level? Would calming down enable them to communicate more effectively? Would riling them up help them work through their feelings? Should we explore how they are feeling, or how this event we’re discussing made them feel? Should I be more open, and share more with them? Or would my consuming our time doing that, block them from doing what they need to do, or from saying what they need to say? Should we be having more fun? Should we be more serious? Should we instead do the opposite, (make light of a serious subject, or vice versa,) of that society would normally expect? Should I ask them a deep question? Should I ask a question on the same line-of-thought and take us even deeper? Deeper a third time? Or should I pivot to indicate that I want to follow them, not drive them into a corner?

What’s that? …oh, you thought I was going to be talking about the actual questions one might ask another person. Yeah no that’s another question altogether. :)

ɕ

Who. What. When.

An embarrassment of riches swamps me. I have so arranged things that everywhere I turn I find inspiring ideas, growth-catalyzing goals, and outlandish opportunities.

This morning I tenderly cracked open a new-to-me book, (Community: The Structure of Belonging by P Block, 2nd ed., 2018,) and inserted a bright blue, ribbon bookmark. I turned past the first page, then past the second page, and read the dedication:

To Maggie — In appreciation for your commitment, intelligence, love, and integrity that make what I do possible. You are a placeholder for all who give their talents and love in support of others. Your question “Who will do what by when?” changes the world.

~ Peter Block, ibid.

slip:2co1.

I have never had that particular formulation in mind. But I’ve had that sentiment as a driving force for decades. Thank you “Maggie” and Peter Block for making something so long fuzzy for me, perfectly clear.

Yes, indeed! Who will do what by when?

ɕ

Don’t ask for advice

An important, but counter-intuitive, strategy we found essential in this style of research is to avoid simply asking people for advice. When you ask for advice, you’ll often get vague, unhelpful answers. Instead, you need to observe what the top performers in your field are actually doing differently. Act like a journalist not a protege. This can often yield surprising insights about what actually matters to move forward.

~ Cal Newport from, https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2017/01/16/are-you-working-in-your-career-or-on-your-career/

I’ve found this to be the case as well.

There are some people who give advice well. There are far more people who can give useful answers to good questions. Asking, “what do you think I should do,” isn’t going to get you useful guidance nearly as often as asking, “how did you do that.” You simply must do the hard work of figuring out whom to ask, and what to ask them.

In a recent conversation on the podcast, Thomas Droge brought up the idea of seeking younger persons to be your mentors; maybe not a formal mentorship relationship, but to be open to being a sort of stealth protege (my interpretation, not his words.) These two ideas dovetail: If you try to ask a younger person, literally, for advice, that’s not going to work well nearly as often as asking, “how did you do that?”

ɕ

Questions

The main difference between innovators and the rest of us is that innovators ask more and better questions “and they are more driven to find answers and embrace them, even if the answers are first not what they wanted or expected to find,” Lang writes. “They have less in common with Einstein, frankly, than with young children.”

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2013/12/7-innovation-myths/

It’s common to talk about, (write about, read about,) how questions are the key to pretty much everything. But, I agree with this article. It’s not just about the questions, it’s about the curiosity, drive, tenacity, and possession to find answers to the questions. What makes someone an innovator, a rising star, is their ability—or if they’re really exceptional, their affliction of being unable to stop searching for the answers—to dig and dig and dig and learn and learn and learn. For innovators, all the hard work is front-loaded while the part that looks like the innovation is simply the obvious last step.

ɕ