What If?

A primary way to learn is to ask questions.  We were born with a rabid curiosity to observe, to relate with and to ask questions of others for understanding.  What happened to that curiosity for you?

Society offers two social pressures that inhibit us from asking questions:

  • We don’t want to appear to be stupid.
  • We are not willing to be seen as challenging or uncooperative.

In the book, The Innovators DNA, the authors offer a very simple story that accentuates the importance of asking questions with little to no reservations.  Edward Land, cofounder of Polaroid, was on a family vacation and he took a picture of his three year old daughter.  His daughter wanted to see the picture and asked to do so immediately, apparently many times.

This one question from a curious three year old drove Land to think about “instant” photography.  Within a few hours, Land developed the basic insights to produce what would become a transformational and industry changing product, the Polaroid Camera.  Between 1946 and 1986, 150 million cameras were sold along with expensive film packets.  This technology came about as the direct result of a valid question.

You won’t create a new industry with each question, but you must observe, relate and ask in order to continue a practice of applied learning.  We are not typically given the graces of a three year child, but don’t excuse yourself from asking.  Be polite, be humble and be genuinely passionate to comprehend as you relate with people and they will come to understand and even appreciate your inquiries.

We are still learning?

“Once you have learned to ask questions — relevant and appropriate and substantial questions — you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you need to know.”     —  Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner  —


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