'A More Beautiful Question' Summary
Updated: Oct 6
This book teaches you that by using the right kind of questions: open, curious, slightly provocative (but never judgmental), you can have a meaningful conversation with anyone.
Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out my notes in Roam Research and see how the principles from this book connect with other books I've read.
I have summarized 'A More Beautiful Question', and distilling the book into 23 core principles:
Self-help books try to provide answers to meaning and happiness but these answers are a one-size-fits-all. To find our meaning we must learn to ask the right questions to find our answers.
Our brain finds ways to reduce our mental workload and one way it does that is to accept without questioning.
Shift your perspective so that you are looking at the world like a curious child
Instead of asking someone a question, let them create their own question. As a result it becomes their question and they will take ownership of it
There is an inverse relationship between = being an expert and being a good questioner.
Questions lead to a journey, answers end the journey and exploration.
Open questions encourage creative thinking, for example: What If?/Why?/How?
"In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now than then to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted. - Betrand Russell
'Why' questions are: Probing, penetrative, and cut through assumptions.
'What if' questions: inspire creativity & spark the imagination.
To be creative you don't have to have a unique idea. You can simply combine two or more ideas that already exist. Take features from 2 objects to create something original, surprising or interesting. Think wider than just: "What if we combine A + B". Instead think about combining A + Z or A +27
Force your brain from its natural way of thinking by purposely thinking wrong. Think of ideas that don't make any sense and mix things that don't go together. "When you force yourself to confront contrary thoughts, you jiggle the synapses in the brain".
Questionstorming encourages thinking of questions instead of ideas. During a questionstorming session, the group is asked to think of 50 questions about a specific problem. How might we....." is the best way to structure questionstorming questions.
One of the most important questions you should ask is: What should we stop doing?
What does the world need most and that I am uniquely able to provide?
Peter Drucker said that his greatest strength was "to be ignorant and ask a few questions". People often expected him to come up with great solutions, but he told clients: "The answers need to be yours."
Instead of having a mission statement, companies (and people) should think about having a 'mission question'. "It tells the outside world, "This is what we're striving for - we know we're not there yet, but we're on the journey." It acknowledges room for possibility, change and adaptability. A company that is arrogant and claims to have figured things out doesn't sound as impressive as one that is striving to answer an ambitious question.
You improve your questioning by going out into the real world and listening and observing.
Open-ended questions are a springboard for opinions and stories.
"By employing the right kind of questions: open, curious, slightly provocative at times, but never judgmental, one could have a meaningful dialogue with people who are very different from you, culturally, politically and temperamentally.
An excellent conversation starter is: How would you like things to be different in your life?
Question those that you disagree with in an open, curious way. Ask yourself: Why might they see the issue this way? Why do I see it differently? What assumptions are we each operating under?
You are more likely to be challenged or ignored when you approach people with answers. When you come with a question, people can not resist advising or helping you.
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