I have been fascinated with the Socratic type of questioning since I heard about it first in Creativity and Personal Mastery Course. I am also captivated by zen Koans like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” These are questions which do not have a definite answer, and the purpose is to open your mind, think outside the box – literally.
And now that I am a people leader I am slowly discovering what great tool questions are. At my recent Vipassana course, whenever one of the Dhamma servers would ask the question to the teacher his response was to ask us the question back, and that just stood out for me. Until I asked a question to which the teacher replied, but then he asked me – how would I answer this? And whether I wanted it or not I found my mind asking myself the same question and the answer I gave hit home for me – Thank you, for helping me experience the power of questions.
And me being me – I have started reading books on questions. One of the books I am listening to now is “Great Leaders Ask Great Questions” by John Maxwell. I have not completed the book yet, but there were some quotes in it which just grabbed me.
Take every opportunity to keep my mouth shut
I love this statement, and I am going to do more of this – and this is very hard for me. Because I think I am unique and I have interesting things to say, and I know it all. Now I still believe that I am special, and I have interesting things to say, but I am beginning to realize that I may not know it all. And if I have to know it all, I have to ask questions and listen. And the rare times I have tried it, I have realized that those moments are stress-free and relaxed because all I am doing is listening and Voila! I still get what I am looking for with minimal effort. But, a lot of effort needs to go into keeping my mouth shut. Ironic!
All things alike – people do business with people whom they like
Even if all things are not like people still do business with people who they like
It goes back to the saying that people forget what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel. I am new to this listening and asking questions stuff. I understand innately that this is what is needed for the next phase of my life – it doesn’t mean that I become this silent, secretive type but it means I master it well enough so that I can use it as a tool in my arsenal and use it at will as needed. And everything needs time when the student is ready the teacher appears.
After all – how hard can it be? All I have to do is to ask the question back and keep quiet, right?
For a while I was into these quotes thing and I had picked up this greeting card at the yoga studio – it called out to me at that time.
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…” (rainer maria rilke)
Basically he is saying that it doesn’t matter what the question/answer is as someday you will be living it. What matters is the NOW. That’s one take on it.
The reason I bring this quote is – we all have situations in our life where we have tried our best to make things happen and we fight for it with everything we have. And it doesn’t work out and we ask ourselves the question – why did it not happen? Why did he not like me? For me, it was my first love (if I can call it that). Since it has the word “First” in it, it is quite obvious I was really young at that time. And fortunately or unfortunately my parents had been a very good buffer between me and the rest of the world. And in my world I got what I wanted well the reasonable and the logical wants for sure. So when things did not go the way I wanted – it was a tough lesson. A lesson that I needed to learn. And once I got over the initial angst and drama of injustice I wondered why did this not happen?
And one of the lessons I learnt was that sometimes we have to learn it’s ok to live without knowing the answer and I might never know the answer. The answer really doesn’t matter except to our mind which loves creating stories/dramas. And as Steve Jobs said you can connect dots backwards or as the quote above says after a certain time it loses relevance.
I met somebody recently who was going through the same phase I went through at her age. And it got me thinking that at that age I spent countless nights staying up with my girlfriends analyzing every single move or exploring all the angles of the situation and now it’s not even a passing thought. Time does put things in perspective and it is all relative – if you have got a stone crushing your feet a tiny prick on your finger will go unnoticed.
And sometimes we are so intent on looking for the answer we want that we do not see all the different answers/choices we have. It’s like when one door closes we keep staring at it for so long that we do not see all the countless doors that open. The faster we let go faster we will move.
Stay Calm and Keep Moving without Knowing