Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Asking the Right Questions II

I wrote this post back in 2009 and I think it's time to revisit this issue again.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of higher level education is that you learn how to learn. We touched on this topic several times in my Psychology program in graduate school. It still fascinates me to this day.

But I'm not here to talk about theory. I'm here to talk about practice.

Let me give you a very real example. At my last workshop, one of the photographers kept asking me the following question,

"Is this okay?"

I didn't think much of it at the time but I saw pretty much the same type of images over and over again with no real improvement over the 2-day workshop. It occurred to me that this photographer wasn't pushing himself to change/grow but was instead looking for approval for what he was already doing.

That's learning done wrong.

Rather than asking "Is this okay?" he should have been asking "What can I do to make this image better?" or "What is good about this image?" Questions like "Is this okay?" doesn't give you any substantial answers. "Is this okay?" doesn't show me that you're looking to reinvent yourself or that you're pushing yourself out-of-the-box. It just shows that you're perfectly happy playing in your box and want others to accept you for who you are. It shows that you'd rather not play by anyone else's rules in which case you don't need to ask the question at all.

It's okay if you're not looking to grow, to learn. If you're content doing things your way and repeating your results, no one can tell you otherwise. But if you're looking to effect change, then learning how to ask the right questions is paramount.

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