Thursday, February 18, 2021

Questions call answers into being

Red Spiral by Joyce Wycoff

Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, offered a simple 2-step exercise on a Tim Ferriss podcast. 

  1. At the end of the day, write down your most important question (MIQ)
  2. First thing the next morning, brainstorm answers to that question.
This elegantly simple exercise can promote a powerful interaction of conscious and subconscious, sometimes prompting powerful results and even breakthroughs. However, there is a pebble in the stew.

Which Question?

“Most Important Question” is pretty intimidating. What if I ask the wrong question … or a stupid question? Struggling with finding the right question can waste a lot of energy. Try changing one word: instead of important, substitute interesting.

Just ask an interesting question, one you really would like to have answers for. If you really want to know why the sky is blue, go for it. However, you might find it more productive to ask questions about something you're trying to learn or accomplish.

One easy way to find an interesting question is write down 10 of them. Make a numbered list of ten empty lines and then fill in the lines. Find questions that start with Who, What, Where, Why, When or How. Don't worry about whether or not they're reasonable questions.

For example:
  1. How could I find a mentor?
  2. What would make me stop eating sugar?
  3. Where could I find a puppy?
  4. What’s keeping me from getting the raise I deserve?
  5. When should I post on my blog?
  6. What online course would appeal to my target audience?
  7. Why am I not healthier?
  8. What would make my writing more compelling?
  9. Who needs what I can offer?
  10. Where would I love to live?
Somewhere in the process of writing ten possible questions, you’ll probably write one that interests you. If not, write five more.

A second easy way to find an interesting question is to use some of these prompts:

Where can I find more information about … 
Who could help me …
When would be the best time to …
What do I want from …
How could I …
What would happen if I …
How can I make X better?
What would make X easier/more beautiful/ more fun?
What do I need to do about …
Who knows how to ...

The Secret Revealed

This can be a daily practice rather than a one-time exercise. Because you can do this every day … or even more often ... it doesn’t matter whether or not your question “works.” Tomorrow you will try again with the same question … or a different one if you find a more interesting one.

Once you find a question, write it down in a journal or in online note using Evernote or OneNote. Have that journal available when you wake up and write down ten answers to the question. You may wake up knowing the answer, and, if so, great. However, even if you don’t, write ten ideas even if they sound ridiculous. Ten minutes or so should be plenty.

Questions are the energy that calls answers into being. This process can be done anytime you have a question. Write it down. Let it simmer while you do other stuff. Come back later and do the brainstorming. Do this for 30 days and then report back about your results.


  1. I am a firm believer in the power of questions and LOVE this post. Your prompts are thought provoking. I'm sharing this with several clients. As always, I bow in gratitude to you for sharing your keen insights and wisdom.

  2. Becky ... yes! Questions are amazing ... glad this is useful to you. I'm finding Most Interesting Question to be a powerful exercise.