Most of us spend our entire life looking for the right answers – from the first day of school until retirement, success is measured by answers. But the real value of those answers is based on the quality of the questions. Good questions inspire deep thinking and profound insight, and the best of them can help people define themselves and the world around them. James E. Ryan, dean of Harvard’s School of Education, shared his five most important questions last year in a viral commencement address, since expanded into The New York Times’ bestselling book, “Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions”.
These questions, beginning with “Wait, what?” and continuing with “I wonder…?,” “Couldn’t we at least…?,” “How can I help?,” and ending with “What truly matters?,” can – in the words of Clayton Christensen – “promise greater clarity, compassion, wisdom, and fulfillment in our lives.” Ryan illustrates each of these with experiences from his own extraordinary life, including his Supreme Court clerkship and meeting his biological mother as an adult.
As Ryan writes, “Questions are like keys. The right question, asked at the right time, will open a door to something you don’t yet know, something you haven’t realized, or something you haven’t even considered – about others and about yourself.” Watch the video or read the book to learn more about how questions can unlock understanding and connections.