Can a question ever be neutral? The way a question is framed inevitably steers the direction of thought and hence shapes the answers. Questions emerge from our life experiences, philosophy, cultural background and even our organisational culture. And because our minds are so attuned to context, the same person may generate entirely different questions in a boardroom versus their living room.

Given this, it is important to take a step back and ask: “Is this truly the most helpful question?”, “What am I not seeing?” or “What might I ask in a different context?”. This is where the power of coaching becomes apparent. Your coach, standing outside your world, will spot questions, insights and distinctions that might elude you within your context. By sharing their unique perspective, they offer you new horizons. It is not that their world is necessarily bigger – it is just different.

Challenge yourself and those around you to question differently. Use your life experience – What would my 7-year-old daughter ask? What might my dad ask? What question am I afraid to ask? Develop a curiosity about your curiosity – why this question and not another? By doing so, you may start unlocking entrenched patterns of thought and perception.

Questions in the Image:

  • Why am I asking this question?
  • Where did it come from?
  • What does it exclude?
  • What is off limits?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger (link to Amazon.co.uk). This book delves into the importance of questioning in life and work, exploring how the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners. It offers practical insights on how to cultivate the art of asking more and more effective questions.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. My family and I have recently started a new wave of decluttering at home. Part of this involves reorganising and rearranging certain items. And yet, even though we know and remember the changes, we often find our bodies defaulting to the old spots – opening a cupboard and putting something in the old place or looking for something where it is no longer stored. It has really got me thinking about mind body disconnect – the mind has adjusted but the body has not. Many of these habits are clearly embodied and I am wondering what else about my way of being in the world is embodied? What else am I doing on autopilot? Might these ways of being be holding me back from accomplishing more of what I want?

About Tom O’Leary

My mission is to help others think differently – meaning more broadly and deeply – and thereby make better decisions. The key to thinking differently lies in our curiosity.

The more we question, the more possible answers we uncover, and the more we expand what we thought possible. Life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential.

And yet, in a culture obsessed with efficiency and productivity, the paradox is that much energy and resources are wasted by a bias towards action over contemplation. If you are answering the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how ‘hard’ you work, you are still answering the wrong question.

That is why I am a big advocate of nurturing curiosity and innovative thinking at all ages, particularly amongst leaders because of the impact they have on us all. In my vision, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are curious, open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning.

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share?

I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.