Notes from A More Beautiful Question Pages 1 – 88

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– Five Habits of Mind: Evidence, Viewpoint, Connection, Conjecture, Relevance. There is value in recognizing a system or process behind questioning and then evaluating those questions. Essentially, looking at my questions, and rather than immediately pursuing an answer, considering the question itself.The big one is Relevance – “Does this matter?” 

– There’s a real value in recognizing the answer that sometimes comes packed in a question – this is the difference between an open and closed question. Consider, “Why is torture effective?” vs. “Is torture effective?” The way a question is asked will result in different answers, and can reveal much about the questioner.

– Asking questions online is different – and easier – than asking questions in person. This is because it allows for a certain amount of anonymity. Especially in work or social cultures where asking questions can indicate weakness, being able to anonymize questions opens up a whole realm of possibility. This reminds me of Gladwell’s Cockpit Culture from Outliers.

– Great quote from Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid, from 1942: “If you dream of something worth doing and then simply go to work on it … if you think of, detail by detail, what you have to do next, it is a wonderful dream even if the end is a long way off, for there are about five thousand steps to be taken before we realize it; and start making the first ten, and stay making those twenty after, it is amazing how quickly you get through those five thousand steps.”

– It’s great to see the power of habit discussed, especially in terms of questioning our long-ingrained ideas. These habits and ideas get caught in a groove, and become psychologically calcified, invulnerable to questioning not because they are the best answers, but simply because they always have been. And that’s not a great reason.

– More on that: “It means thinking of things that are usually assumed to be negative as positive, and vice versa. It can mean reversing assumptions about cause and effect, or what matters most versus least. It means not traveling through life on automatic pilot.

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