A Better Question?
Hello Creatives, and welcome to the brand new year! LifeArt Studio has re-opened its doors and we're ready for business as usual. Er, strike that. We are in no way ready for business as usual around here. We're ready for business as unusual, as my mentor Jeffrey Davis likes to say. We want business that leads each every stakeholder in the project to step daily into the next best version of herself. And that's the big, bold intention for LifeArt Studio in 2015. This is the time of year when resolutions, goals, intentions, determinations abound. Lots of different opinions out there about the value (or even practicality) of making resolutions or setting goals and intentions for a new year. I myself have always been big on periodically reviewing my life circumstances and then setting up structures that will improve them. And yes, I've been known to get a little maniacal about it. But then, we each have unique ways of moving through the world; we hold very specific beliefs about what is possible for us; and we endeavor to find helpful conditions that allow us to live a life that rises up to meet our vision of what that life can be. Make no doubt about it, we all do this, but some of us do it by default.
So in my annual retreat, I thought I would be spending a lot of time revising and refining my intentions for 2015. But this year, something different happened in my December retreat. I spent much more time immersed in questions than I did in making resolutions or intentions. The whole month of December, in fact, became a dedicated practice in questioning. I participated in an online exploration of core questions devised and facilitated by Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder called Live The Quest. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Jeffrey sent a prompt, question, or short video from one of his visionary friends designed to inspire participants to envision how we will live (and quest) in 2015. (See more about Quest 2015 here.) Twelve creatives successfully living and learning and sharing their insights in a variety of ways appeared in my inbox to pose a provocative question for reflection and writing. And the questions were big. Scary sometimes, annoying sometimes, and challenging in the very best sort of way. I wrote and wrote and wrote into these questions as I spent time alone, as I sat on my cushion, as I walked my Dash, as I listened to music, as I lit candles and allowed myself to rest, to release tension, to re-consider possibilities.
In his latest book, Tony Robbins says questions are the answer. If you ask better questions, you'll get better answers. A higher level question will give a higher level answer. The questions you ask will determine what you focus on, and what you focus on will lead to what you manifest.
In classic Robbins provocateur style, he directs his readers to consider the questions we ask more than any other? "What are your obsessions? Finding love? Making a difference? Learning? Earning? Pleasing everyone? Avoiding pain? Changing the world?"
And he throws down an interesting challenge when he asks how aware we are of what we focus on. "Your primary question in life. . . will shape, mold, and direct your life." Hmmmm, I wondered. What is my primary question?
Warren Berger, too, has addressed the question of questioning in his new book A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. He says sometimes questions are actually better than answers because they spark change, innovation, and progress. This is a fascinating book and not one focused on the BIG QUESTIONS OF LIFE (like why am I here and what is my purpose), but on what he calls “Beautiful Questions”—borrowing from the e.e. Cummings line “Always the beautiful answer, who asks a more beautiful question.” There are, Berger explains, “certain kinds of catalytic questions that can lead to game-changing answers and results. These are the questions that, once raised, tend to get people thinking in a different way—and can trigger a process that leads to some kind of breakthrough.”
To provoke innovative thinking Berger explores three types of questioning: why questions, what if questions and how questions. And he advises those interested is sparking creativity and innovation to learn to lean into the question, instead of rushing too soon to conclusion. This book is worth the read.
The Quest 2015 questions proved to be “more beautiful questions” for my winter retreat. But the most provocative question for me came at the end of my month-long journey into questioning, and it came from Jeffrey Davis himself. He asked: “What burning question of possibility will influence what and how you create these first 3 months of 2015?”
I urge you to watch this 4-minute video to hear more about his approach to exploring this question. He suggests asking three types of question in response to this prompt: what if questions, why questions, and why not questions. This exercise just might set you on a new journey in 2015, one ripe with possibilities for your creative flourishing. It did for me. What if we took concrete steps toward cultivating and nourishing our capacity to create something new and original this year?
And remember, the power comes from asking the question. The solutions will rise up to meet you.
Not a bad way to begin this new year: lean into the question. Instead of resolutions, goals, objectives, intentions, how about beginning 2015 with a question? What's the question that will lead you to your highest flourishing in 2015?