Questions Shape Our Purpose.
New purposes require new questions.
‘Could inquiry and change be part of a simultaneous moment?’
- Marilee Adams
‘What is a midlife wisdom school?’
- Chip Conley
‘Questions are loaded with energy. Be careful where you point them’
- Jeff Hamaoui
I love quoting myself. It makes me feel important.
What if questions are the way that change is catalyzed into action? If we believed this, we would have to be extremely careful to consider the implications of the questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis.
Unsure what I mean? Here are some possible examples: try to consciously feel the energy of the question as you read it and the action (or reaction) the question might create in the person asking it. As you read, ask yourself, is the question attractive? Does it draw me in? Does it drain my energy or replenish it?
‘What am I doing with my life?’
‘What is working and how do I grow that?’
‘Why does this keep on happening to me?’
‘Will I ever find love?’
‘What do I care about most?’
‘Where have I found joy before?’
‘Why does my partner not understand me?’
‘How do I get people to recognize my skills?’
Marilee Adams lays out this useful little chart to help think about the energy of the questions we ask. She uses a different language (the judger vs learner mindset), a frame that for me is packed with useful prompts.
Adams suggests that questions arise from ‘human nature’ vs the ‘human spirit’ and outlines both the mindset and the questions that underpin that mindset’. Check it out…
I find I swing terrifyingly between the two columns depending on the day. But this list is useful as I consider my own questions, to myself, my friends and family and my work. I have decided to print this list and post it somewhere.
So, If you have a moment, take a pen out and some paper. Try to frame or imagine your current purpose as a question. Is it a learning purpose? Is it a judging purpose? We sometimes use the language of proving yourself or improving yourself at the Academy, is your purpose one of proving or improving? One of generation or degeneration?
Jeff Hamaoui is an MEA cofounder and the Chief Community Design & Innovation Officer.