โ€œI would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.โ€ โ€•Richard Feynman
"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." โ€•Bertrand Russell
โ€œTo ask the 'right' question is far more important than to receive the answer. The solution of a problem lies in the understanding of the problem; the answer is not outside the problem, it is in the problem.โ€ โ€•Jiddu Krishnamurti

Useful questions:

  • When facing a tough situation (or dealing with sunk cost) use the wise outsider question:
    • Imagine a wise outsider has come to make a decision for you (not burden with the baggage, the cost, the backstory). What would he do?
    • โ€‹Andy Grove: if we got kicked out, what would our successor do?
  • To be more productive: "What one task can I do now that will make the rest irrelevant or easy?"
  • Avoiding confirmation bias: "Under what conditions would my idea be a bad idea?"
  • Gaining claritiy: "What is the real truth of the situation that is not yet obvious to me?"
  • When you want different results (in life/business/etc) than everyone else, ask questions no one else has the courage or will to ask.
    • "What is currently not possible in my life/industry that if it was possible, would change the game?"
  • "What would your life look like if you measured every decision you made against your future vision?"
  • โ€œWhat does it mean?โ€ is often impractical. It's better to ask:
    • "How can I use it?"
    • "What can I learn from this?"
  • What is working and what could be working:
    • "What brings me satisfaction in my life? How can I do more of it?"
    • "What could I be happy about?"
  • When a question triggers anxiety or fear, ask kaizen questions - small, gentle, action-oriented questions:
    • When you are trying to reach a goal, ask yourself every day: "What is one small step I could take toward reaching my goal?"
    • After Epictetus: What is it I want that is not within my power?
    • When you are unhappy but aren't sure why: "If I were guaranteed not to fail, what would I be doing differently?"
  • When stuck on something challenging: What might it look like if it was easy?
  • "Via Negativa" questions like:
    • What kind of person I don't want to be?
    • What is my not-to-do list for today?
  • To avoid survivorship bias when presented with a new statistic, inference, assessment, ask:
    • What's the process that generated that data?
    • What are the things that could have happened that might have led them to not measure something?
    • What's the data that's not present?
  • The Hamming Question: What are the most important problems in your field, and why arenโ€™t you working on them?
The question you most often ask yourself (or others ask you) can either guide or control you:
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." โ€•Thomas Pynchon
Seeking the right questions beats seeking answers. Answers are fragile. Questions forge a path. Answers can lead you astray.
"The right question at the right time can change the course of a life, can still a turbulent mind, or heal an angry heart." โ€•Ryan Holiday


Last modified 7mo ago
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