This was written by Gary Douglas and posted on the Access Consciousness Blog in May 2015 and reprinted here.
There are no stupid questions. There are only stupid people who don’t ask questions.
People have always told me that the way I do business is different. I may indeed have a slightly different point of view about most things in life – and I’ll change my point of view on a dime. I question everything all the time.
Innovation occurs when you are willing to be in the question and to ask a question always. Whatever conclusions we come to become the limitation of what we can actually achieve and receive. Don’t assume: “We’ve got this part of the business right,” which is what Kodak did. They assumed: “We’ve got it right. There will always be film.” They didn’t get innovative. They knew about digital and electronic imaging.
“There are no stupid questions. There are only stupid people who don’t ask questions.”
Did Kodak look at that and ask: “Which is the direction we need to go? What do we need to create here?” Or did they go to the conclusion that they would always have the answer? Once you decide that you have the answer, nothing that doesn’t match your conclusion can come into your awareness. You’ve got to be willing to see what kind of awareness you could have if you were willing to question.
The purpose of a question is to gain awareness. With increased awareness, different possibilities become available to you. When you become aware of the possibilities, you can make choices. Choice creates. With each choice, you can look at: “If I choose this, what will this create?”
“The purpose of a question is to gain awareness.”
Whether it’s in your organization, in your family, or in your life, being a leader is about knowing that you are going wherever you’re going, regardless of whether you have followers. It’s about inviting the possibilities, creating the future by the choices you make today, and choosing beyond other people’s limited points of view.
Leadership is also knowing when to follow and when to give over. If I hire someone to work for me or with me, I ask them what job they want to do. I’ll give them a list of about five things I need done, and I’ll ask: “Which of these are you good at? Which of these would you like to do?” People will tell you what they would actually like to do. What you’ve got to be willing to recognize is, what they would actually like to do is what they will do easily. If you give them the choice to create their job, the end result will be that they will go beyond that, and create more in their job. So always be willing to turn somebody loose.
“Leadership is also knowing when to follow and when to give over.”
Many of the people I work with say, “You’re always willing to let people fail.” Yes, because if they don’t ask me a question, I can’t stop their failure. But once they have failed, then they are at least going to ask the question, “What do I do to not fail?” When they get to the point where they have failed once, they will work harder to make up for the damage they have done from their point of view. Who is going to win under those circumstances?
We have the tendency to believe that communication will solve all problems. Have you ever found that to be true? The best communication is actually listening. People have this weird point of view that communication is: “We will talk about it.” Real communication is being aware of the energy people create by what they say.
With most people, what they say and what they think are two different things. When I hire somebody, one of the questions I ask is: “What question should I have asked you that I haven’t asked you?” It’s amazing what comes out of people’s mouths. They will suddenly tell you what you didn’t ask, but what you really need to know about them. You’ve got to be willing to ask: “What question haven’t I asked you, that I should have asked you?” Do this with everything you do with people.
“You’ve got to be willing to ask: ‘What question haven’t I asked you, that I should have asked you?”
Most people have learned that if they give too much information, they’ll get slapped. Never slap somebody for giving too much information. Thank them for the information. You can discard it, you can discount it, or you can choose not to use it. But don’t slap them for giving you the information. Always make sure that you are receiving whatever they have to say.
That doesn’t mean that you have to change your point of view. It just means you have to be aware that they have a different point of view. If you get that people have a different point of view, then real communication is going on. You’ve got to get what people receive and what they don’t receive. You want to be aware of where people are actually functioning from. This is part of living in the question.
“You want to be aware of where people are actually functioning from. This is part of living in the question.”
When you are willing to ask questions constantly, you become the question. You begin to function as the question. A question empowers. An answer disempowers. What question can you be that would create the change you have always known is possible – in your life, in your organization, and in the world?
– Gary Douglas is the founder of Access Consciousness®, a personal growth modality of tools, techniques and processes to change and empower people in all areas of life including business, money, relationships, health and more. A vibrant 70-year-old grandfather and author of nine books including the best-selling book “The Place,” Gary continues to inspire others daily with his work and openly proclaims that for him, “life is just beginning.” Access Consciousness is now in 131 countries throughout the world.