One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading books, interviewing smart people, and having conversations with my mentors is that questions are more important than answers.
But that goes against everything you learn in school where you’re rewarded for the quality of your answers.
However, that’s not what you should judge a person on. Instead, look at the quality of a person’s questions, like Voltaire famously said:
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
And one of my friends who’s a consultant at one of the big three management consultancies, once told me that, “my job is to be ignorant.” He was referring to Peter Drucker, arguably one of the greatest management consultants of all time, who said:
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”
The right question and the right time can spark the right answer that changes your life. I’ve experienced that myself over the last few years.
And I’ve formed a habit of asking myself questions all the time. In this article, I want to share 21 questions across four areas that have the potential to change everything about what you do. Let’s get started.
Listen: The non zero day could change your life if you are feeling down. Post continues after audio.
Life in general
Let’s start with a few yes/no questions to assess how you feel. Like all the questions in this article, I answer them in my journal. I have simply made a note in my note-taking app with these 21 questions.
A few times a month, I open the note and look at the questions (I have added the note to my shortcuts in Evernote so I’m frequently reminded by the questions). I randomly answer a few at a time. I challenge you to use it in the same way. But you can also answer everything chronologically if you prefer.
1. Am I happy?
2. Am I grateful?
3. Do I like my job?
4. Do I feel good?
5. Do I spend enough time on my education?
The reason why these quick questions are important is that you want to adjust your strategy if you answer no to any one of them.
Often, we go through life unhappy, ungrateful, and feeling bad for way too long. If something is wrong in your life, acknowledge it quickly, and then find a solution.
These questions are not only about yourself. When you’re happy and in a good mood, you can lift the spirits of the people in your life. That’s why I focus on fixing my own happiness first. Otherwise, you can’t make your spouse, family, or others happy.
See those first five questions as a quick assessment. Be honest. There’s no one to impress. Think about how you feel.
Recently I read a comment from someone who said that people who think about themselves are selfish — and that we get a selfish world if everyone behaves that way. That’s a very limited and ignorant perspective.