⏤ Kurt and Patricia Wright
In 2015, a colleague gave me a copy of the book, Breaking the Rules: Accessing Your Inner Wisdom.
In their book, the authors share what they learned from a 27-year study of people who operate at their very best. They discovered what may be contrary to what most of us do! We look outside ourselves for answers rather than inside.
One of the most intriguing ideas I found in the book was this:
“The energy around an unanswered question may very well be the most powerful motivating force in the universe.”⏤ Kurt and Patricia Wright
It seemed unbelievable to me to think that an “unanswered question” could be so powerful. Yet, there was a shred of truth in it.
By this time in 2015, I had already experienced the power of an unanswered question through my interview series and book 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success.
By luck or accident, I had come up with a straightforward core question that was unanswerable. Unanswerable in that there was no one correct answer, and everyone had a different perspective.
My question, “What is your best improvement strategy?” invited people to look inside to come up with their answer. The responses from many leading experts were surprising and unexpected, even to the experts themselves.
It was just at this time when I received a copy of Breaking the Rules that I decided to end the 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success interview series.
Why? Because it was never about process improvement. Something else seemed to happen that I didn’t quite understand.
I had no immediate plans to start another interview series, but what I learned about the power of questions to access our inner wisdom from this book would prove pivotal.
It got me thinking about what new questions I might now ask. It would take six more months for a new set of questions to come together.
Turning Knowledge into Wisdom
The central framework in Breaking the Rules revolves around asking, “what’s right” questions.
“What’s right” questions are those kinds of questions that generate deep thinking and reflection about value and opportunities in situations, people, and relationships.
They focus people on “what’s working well” and strengths instead of “what’s wrong.” When we ask “what’s right” questions, we help ourselves and others look inside.
“Asking ourselves and being asked right questions (in order to regain conscious access to what we already know intuitively) is a path far more certain to put our lives on a permanent roll.”⏤ Kurt and Patricia Wright
What do you find most intriguing about what you’ve read so far?
I encourage you to pick up a copy of Breaking the Rules for a deeper dive into asking “what’s right” questions.
You’ll discover a valuable framework and questions for turning knowledge into wisdom.
Living in the Question
As I reviewed Breaking the Rules in preparation for writing this article, I discovered a critical question that ultimately led me to create the Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces interviews.
The authors share their experience using “what’s right” questions to help a company turn around a project that was two-years behind schedule!
The surprising question they came up with was:
“What will it take to finish this project a week early?“
Of course, everyone thought the question was ridiculous and the outcome impossible.
However, as you might have guessed, the team started “living in the question,” and the project was completed on time!
It was a dramatic example of asking and living in a “what’s right” question.
This story was also an excellent reminder for me.
I now remember this very question the authors asked led me to ask the opening question in the Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces interviews:
“How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?“
I asked myself, what would my question be if I applied this idea of “what will it take to finish this project a week early” to my work?
You might consider using this same approach to whatever challenge you are facing.
There truly is unbelievable power when we are living in the question.
“Living in the question is an ever-evolving, creative process in full alignment with the wisdom of the universe. As long as we are able to stay “in the question,” miracles will happen.”⏤ Kurt and Patricia Wright
What’s Next for Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces
You may have noticed that I haven’t published any new interviews in the past six months.
This was partly intentional because I wanted to reflect on what I had learned and achieved after 76 interviews. And partly due to the pandemic. Was I still asking the right questions?
What I concluded is that it is now time to take these questions more fully into the workplace.
Starting this fall, I will now primarily focus my attention on helping organizations who would like to “live in the questions.”
If your organization or team wants to explore this option with me, please get in touch or visit Forward Thinking Pro for more information.
As always, I welcome any feedback or suggestions that may come up from reading my newsletters.
Bill Fox, Founder at Forward Thinking Pro