What’s the most important question you can ask?
In the history of the world, what’s the most important question anyone has asked?
Have you ever been around a four-year old? I remember when my oldest was four a few short years ago, and I’m lucky to have another son turning four this July? Four is such a great age for many reasons, but I believe it’s when you really start to see a change in a child.
All of the sudden, they’ve gone from a toddler to a “little kid.”
What do you recall about the four-year old’s you’ve known in your life?
For me, this is the age where they ask the most important question anyone can ask…over and over and over and over and over again.
What’s the question?
It’s seems so simple and I’m sure some of you are thinking, “C’mon Kyle, there’s been a ton of more important, more in-depth questions asked.” There may have been more in-depth questions asked, but never more important than why.
This past Christmas good friends of ours gave my son a set of children’s books on famous American historical figures. They tell the story of the historical figure through the eyes of a child. Last week my son and I were reading the one about Albert Einstein and you know what young Albert said the best thing he ever did was?
You guessed it…he said it was he began to ask “Why?”
This school year I’ve incorporated a new educational practice called Genius Hour. In it students are given 60 minutes each week to research and construct a project over a topic of their choosing. Many students struggle to find a topic or theme they have an interest or passion about. In order to help them think of one, I suggest they start with what could they see themself doing as a career right now, or what is a topic they would want to learn about if there were school or tests.
When they have a broad, general topic in mind I challenge them to continue to ask themselves “Why?” We’ve found asking this question will help clarify the topic of interest and will give students the ideas or direction needed.
When you think about it this question and approach will quickly get to the heart of an issue and provide the clarity needed in any situation.
You’re not happy at work. Why?
You made a decision you regret. Why?
You don’t understand something. Why?
It didn’t work the way you wanted it to. Why?
You’re angry or upset. Why?
You’re nervous or anxious. Why?
You’re stuck. Why?
You’re lost. Why?
You want to make a change. Why?
You want something to work better. Why?
You want to make life better or easier. Why?
The list could go on and on.
All great inventions and innovations have come from this question. Somewhere, someone thought of how something was, why it was that way, how they could make life better.
We must teach our kids the importance and power of this simple question. Instead of teaching them to just accept things as “they way they are”, we need to teach them to have an inquisitive mind. We need them to maintain the childlike enthusiasm for knowledge they show us as four-year olds.
The power of this question has relevance to business, education, sports, and life. Most importantly (especially for our youth) the power of “why” leads to better sense of self-identity. Most people go through life pretending to be someone they’re not, in order to please people who don’t matter, for reasons they don’t understand.
When young children grow into adolescents who continue to challenge accepted ideas they develop more confidence and identity. We must teach our youth it’s okay to question what others tell them they should be or do. They need to discover what their true interests and passions are. The adults need to encourage and support them to be themselves, find a way to contribute to the world, all while doing what makes them happy.
The power of “Why?” provides clarity, declutters the mind, and provides a path to a solution. It’s often overlooked because it’s so simple. But there is power in simplicity.
Keep asking “Why?” until you have your “aha moments.”
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
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