I’ve started reading a book I’m really digging. Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question takes a look at the necessity of not only asking questions, but also asking the “right” ones. In fact, as he discusses (and, in fairness, I’m not yet far enough along to know where he will go with this), asking the wrong questions doesn’t truly help us get to the answers that matter. And, as he hints at, if we truly value questions, then we also must value the fact that the best questions rarely lead to true “answers.” Instead, they take us to other questions, which, in the best cases, are so new, that there is truly no answer to them yet.
As I’ve written about throughout this year, the leader I strive to be is the one who assists others more through questions asked than answers given. Deep down, I truly want my colleagues to lead themselves, as I find (at least in my own experience) that learning is most powerful when we’ve gotten ourselves “there” as opposed to someone else “taking” us “there.” I’m a firm believer in the idea that the best leaders are rarely the smartest ones in the room. Instead, they’ve learned how to help the smartest ones get to the places where they can best use their skills to most effectively aid others.
As I think back to my growth as an educator and a person over the last ten years in particular, I see a learner and leader who has moved from having to validate his knowledge by being a question answerer to someone who is comfortable in his own shoes and with his own lack of knowledge by moving into a leadership frame where I ask questions to know more, and to push others to share what they know.
So far, Berger’s book is encouraging me to believe that I am heading in the right direction. Striving to find the right question (or right questions) is at the heart of what it means to help others to help themselves.