The Power of the "Ask"
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
Jesus, Luke 11:9-10 NASB
You will never grow beyond the questions that you are willing to ask.
Have you ever been sure of something and then somebody comes along and asks you questions about it? Suddenly, your shallowness is exposed. You realize that you don't know as much as you thought you knew. This is the power of questions.
Questions are an open door to a world we do not know. If you are stuck, confused, or your head is spinning with emotions, the pathway out is through a question.
Most of us spend our entire lives filling in "blanks" - what we don't understand or know - with assumptions. Assumptions are the gateway to confusion, racism, bigotry, hatred, discontent, and sadness.
a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
Do you see that? Assumptions are based on being certain WITHOUT PROOF. In other words, we are just making up things - filling in the blanks - without truth or facts. My mother used to call this "living in a fantasy world." And, oh my, what wonderful fantasies we have imagined.
We "pretend" to know what other people are thinking or feeling.
I learned this lesson early in my career. Email was just beginning and social media - Facebook and Twitter - had not been born yet. I had just been promoted to a supervisory position. I had no clue what I was doing (there is some wisdom for those of you struggling with a new boss).
One day, I got into this email battle with one of my employees. I had sent a request for a status on something she was working on. When I read her first reply, my anger and impatience got the best of me. We went back and forth until I finally, out of frustration, got out of my chair to go see her.
Well, after a face-to-face discussion, both of us realized that neither one of us was talking the same language. I was reading her emails the wrong way. And she was reading my emails the wrong way.
What I know now that I did not know then was this: I was asking the wrong questions. Her responses were being driven by what I asked her for - and they were pushing some emotional buttons that I didn't understand.
I was asking the WRONG questions.
The I was asking the WRONG questions was because I started with some assumptions about what was going on. I assumed that she was "dragging her feet" and my questions implied that very thing. No wonder she was upset - duh!
Asking questions in an open and curious way unlocks the path to clarity, focus, and connection. As a scientist, I should have known better. Scientists call this "inquiry" and it is the foundation of all scientific understanding.
Are you have problems connecting with people? It can likely be traced to your failure to ASK. Or if you are asking, it may be your failure to ASK the right questions. Either way, you are filling in the blanks and making assumptions about the other person that may be unfair.
This touching story shatters our assumption defenses.
Many years ago, a 10-year-old boy walked up to the counter of a soda shop and climbed onto a stool. He caught the eye of the waitress and asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?”
“Fifty cents,” the waitress replied. The boy reached into his pockets, pulled out a handful of change, and began counting. The waitress frowned impatiently. After all, she had other customers to wait on.
The boy squinted up at the waitress. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he asked. The waitress sighed and rolled her eyes. “Thirty-five cents,” she said with a note of irritation.
Again, the boy counted his coins. At last, he said, “I’ll have the plain ice cream, please.” He put a quarter and two nickels on the counter. The waitress took the coins, brought the ice cream, and walked away.
About ten minutes later, she returned and found the ice cream dish empty. The boy was gone. She picked up the empty dish—then swallowed hard.
There on the counter, next to the wet spot where the dish had been, were two nickels and five pennies. The boy had had enough for a sundae, but he had ordered plain ice cream so he could leave her a tip.
Living inside of your own head all of the time is dangerous. Making assumptions about other people can block you from connection. And that block in connecting will leave you feeling lonely, isolated, and can lead to depression.
The pathway out is the through a question.
What are you telling yourself about your current situation? Are you making assumptions about the other people in that situation? Have you stopped to ask yourself or them the right questions?
You don't know what you don't know. And asking questions may uncover things that will surprise you get you unstuck.
Having a hard time coming up with questions? Try these resources: 8 Most Powerful Questions to Get Unstuck, 28 Powerful Questions for a Happy Life, and 30 Thought Provoking Questions You Should Ask Yourself Everyday.
I close with this one question: What DON'T you have in your life today because you refuse to ASK?
Ask for it and believe that you shall receive an answer.