“There is very little difference between people but that little difference makes a big difference.” – W. Clement Stone
One little difference that makes a big difference is CTS: Critical Thinking Skills: the ability to ask focused, intelligent, provocative questions i.e. the Cycle of Inquiry.
The Cycle of Inquiry involves sequentially asking “Why, What if, and How”, often over and over.
Asking “Why?” or “What is Our True Goal?” focuses on the desired outcome, the ultimate purpose we wish to direct our energies toward. Why there is a problem, why it is a problem (from another perspective or to someone else it may not be a problem). Why does it still exist i.e. why hasn’t it been solved already?
Asking “What if?” or “How Might We?” or “What other paths lead to our Desired Result?” helps us clear away obstacles in our minds, free our imaginations, and lets us see different worlds. A variation of this is “Clean Sheeting” i.e. imagining that we are starting from scratch. We are building from the ground up versus attempting to modify an existing system or situation. If we were starting all over, what would we do differently?
Asking “How?” or “What Would it Take?” leads us to the practical stage: creating action plans. When folks say something can’t be done, ask, “Could you do it if you had a million dollars?”. Often the answer changes to, “Sure, if I had a million dollars.” Then we realize it is possible, we just need to find a more economical, cost effective way to do it!
The act of formulating questions organizes our thinking. The most effective questions are open-ended (i.e. do not contain presumptions or constraints), solution-focused, action-oriented questions that concentrate our creative energies.
“The most important part of my personality as far as determining my success has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts, and questioning authority.” – Larry Ellison, founder, Oracle
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Tony Robbins, “Awaken the Giant Within” and “Unlimited Power”
“We live in the world our questions create.” – David Cooperride
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier