The Powerful Question

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.


Questions explored honestly help us discover our truth. Questions reflected upon with intention lead to understanding, self-insight, and clarity about things like who we are, what we want, and how we can take action. When we can express our wisdom with depth, we connect with others who share our dreams, who need what we can give, with experiences that enable us to grow and move with purpose.

“If we would have new knowledge, we must get a whole world of new questions.”  ~Susanne K. Langer

Questions invite us to look at ourselves, others, and our circumstances from different perspectives. They help us break out of our habits, shift our default behaviors, and slow down our autopilot. Questions can lead us where we want to go. The simple, most powerful, direction-providing question I know is “What do I want?” Just 4 words. So simple, although looking within the answer can be challenging, especially when we are new to asking the question. (Like most things, if we practice asking it, it gets easier to answer over time.)

“Unanswered questions aren’t threats; they are challenges and catalyst.” ~Colin Wright

Questions engage us. They call us to look, listen, touch, feel – that is, to sense and make sense. We can find meaning when we open to the power of a timely and relevant question. Getting to that question in any given situation stems from immersing ourselves in the experience and being present with ourselves, those we are with, and the situation that surrounds us. Questions help us tune into the channel where we get signal and not noise.

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~William S. Burroughs

Considering questions others have prepared (for example, these) can open our thinking and see the possibility in questions. In that spirit, I offer some questions that I hope invite exploration of “what if”. May you feel invited to consider a new response to whatever experience you’re contemplating today.

“Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them.”  ~Ralph Gerard

What if I:

… released the pressure?

… rewrote the stories that do not serve me?

… didn’t have to know?

… allowed myself to be super curious?

… moved the bar against which I judge myself (others, situations, experiences)?

… made this easy and fun?

… made taking care of myself a priority?

… trusted my intuition and insight?

… already have the courage I need?

… turned this into an opportunity?

… questioned the rules I use to shape my life?

… chose my words and actions with intention?

… took one small step right now?

Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions. 

~Earl Gray Stevens


Vicki Flaherty
Vicki Flaherty
VICKI FLAHERTY creates and spreads joy in the world through one-on-one coaching to support individuals being their best, facilitating mindfulness and resilience-related experiences, blogging about leadership and life, and capturing moments of joy through her photography and poetry. She believes in being present in the moment, focusing on what really matters, honoring every individual, listening from a place of openness and caring, examining issues from different perspectives, and acting with passion, courage, and creativity. The common thread of her career is that every step involves helping people succeed. As an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, she designed a variety of people-focused experiences such as onboarding, mentoring, career development, and talent management programs for organizations. She’s created leadership, mindfulness and resilience programs for a Fortune 50 company, and is most fulfilled when facilitating experiences that help people lead their lives with clarity, intention, and authenticity, and that encourage health and wellbeing. She loves taking long walks along the Iowa River, cooking delicious food, and traveling with her husband, and she enjoys yoga, gardening, writing, and photography. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter, and subscribe to her blogs: Leading with Intention, And Then Opens Possibility, Where Possibility Awaits, the joyfull eye, and the small things.

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