Are You Into Jeopardy?
Winter Park, CO Colorado
What would we do without questions? Well, for one thing, without questions, there would be no Jeopardy, the quiz show.
“Alex, who is … what is … where is blah, blah, blah?” This popular game implies that, given any concept, there exists a unique question to match it.
So it goes – here is the answer, you guess the question, another answer, another question. You are a winner, ding, ding, ding! Does this relationship of response and then query really exist? Could we truly have all of life’s answers – if we could just realize the questions?
Even though the ancient philosopher Socrates knew nothing of this brain game for winnings, he, too, valued questions as the key to winning – winning the truth of life. The Socratic method of questioning is to earnestly reflect on anything and everything and then to reflect on it again and then again, gaining new perspectives and valuable knowledge with each examination.
Unlike Jeopardy, Socrates explored one question after another question, never believing that any single consideration was the end all for any one answer. While promoting self-understanding and human excellence, Socrates prescribed constant inquiry as the remedy to unenlightened assumptions and foregone conclusions, both factual and philosophical.
No matter at which end of contemplation the question comes, we cannot do without questions to complete the cycle of our knowledge. When, why, how, who, and what can we discover about life’s constant questions? As a life coach, I know my greatest professional tool is a poignant question. Yet, questions, like all communication, have as many angles as there are people to conceive and to scrutinize them.
Be not weak of heart or fearful of the looming question. Shy not from full-on entanglement with your many life inquiries. That is my unsolicited advice and I am sticking to it. Most of us tumble – pestering ponders over agonizing contemplations – to determine everything from our greatest passions to our daily grocery list. How might we tame our unruly questions? When in doubt, don’t jeopardize, Socratize.
Socratizing can be as simple as formulating the question, examining all possible answers, and acting on the most evident truth. First of all, we must not be distracted by faux-questions when challenging ourselves to a reflective task. Ditch manipulative questions when you smugly believe you already know the answer. Formulate forward-looking inquiries that will truly clarify, expand, and inspire.
Do not linger on dead-end questions for which you habitually refuse to entertain a new response. Beware of statements disguised as questions. If you would ever, ever ask yourself, “Why am I so stupid?” – get a new question, for heaven sakes. Consider asking, “What knowledge would I need to accomplish that which I desire to do?” The properties of this new question are pregnant with Socratic possibility.
Next, to critically examine all of the possibilities surrounding a question, we must consciously choose to learn from the resulting answer. In the welcoming of new knowledge we willingly make vulnerable all of those concepts we are already inclined to believe. We challenge ourselves to adjust, whether slightly or monumentally, all that we know with each discovered answer.
Lastly, plan to embrace the possible answer that most advances you towards your excellence. Do not hesitate to act on your new conviction of fact or philosophy. Know that all fresh opinions, ideas, information, and concepts attract a revised pattern of thought and altered focus of energy. Grow with this transformation until a new challenging question and subsequent answer, or answer for which you finally connect to a question, stimulates yet another direction.
I believe it does not matter which comes first – the question or the answer. However, we cannot do without either and must have one to realize the other. With both ends of inquiry soundly in place we can actualize our never-ending quest to learn and to thrive. Both Alex Trebek and Socrates would congratulate us. Winner, ding, ding, ding!
– Marianne Klancke is a certified professional coach and group development facilitator. What are your coaching questions or communication concerns? She welcomes any comments email@example.com.
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