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Question Everything

Here’s the thing: most anyone you ask would agree that they absolutely, positively, without a doubt want to escape mediocrity. I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right? Who would say “No – I think I’ll settle for mediocre. That’s working for me.”?

And yet, that is exactly what many people do, day in and day out.

Why?

Because escaping the gravity pull of the mediocre is hard. Really hard. And, in general, human beings shy away from the really hard.

But, if you still want to raise your hand for this adventure, here’s the very first thing you must be willing to do:

Question Everything.

What do I mean by everything?

– Question the stories you tell yourself about what is and isn’t true.

– Question the ideas that you believe to be 100% accurate.

– Question the goals you’ve set and make sure they are yours and not someone else’s.

– Question everything you’ve learned and accepted as infallible.

– Question everyone who sets themselves up as a leader or a teacher.

– Question the business ideas that are believed to be “the gospel”.

– Question anyone and anything that ever makes you feel less than.

There are lots of other stuff to question, but this list should get you started.

You many chose to ask your questions privately – just you and you. You may choose to ask them out loud with a select group. Or you may choose to ask them on a big scale.

If you do chose to ask them out loud, be polite, never assume you are 100% correct and always leave room for different opinions. That is sort of the point of asking questions, right?

I want to prepare you for something, though. (No one prepared me for this, so I want to spare you the shock.)

If you chose to ask them out loud, some people will not be happy about the fact that you are questioning. Question-askers mess with the status quo and that makes many people uncomfortable. Especially if your questions a) make them start to question b) requires them to consider changing in any way.

We are creatures who enjoy comfort and predictability. We don’t want anyone spoiling that by rocking the boat. So if your questions involve other people, expect push back. Sometime hard push back.

If you are asking your questions out loud and they rattle cages, expect some people to suddenly go radio silent on you.  Like I said, those who ask questions can make some people uncomfortable.

The upside is that there will also be people who will encourage you to ask questions, support you as you seek out what is true, even walk along side you to make the journey more fun.

Asking questions is a tough road. It forces us to wake up from The Matrix and carve out our own reality. The great news is that it forces us to wake from The Matrix and carve out our own reality. :-)

What say you? What are your thoughts and experiences about questioning everything?

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  • http://www.elianevans.com Elian Evans

    Question, baby question! TY

    • Anonymous

      You should make a poster of that. :-)

  • Tami Morello

    I’ve also encountered the baffled, totally confused, blank look response. Like it never occurred to them to question the thing they just accept at face value. Like they’re not sure why you’re rattling the cage they didn’t even realize was a cage.

    • Anonymous

      Sadly, you can’t make them want to see it Tami. You can just keep asking the questions for yourself.

  • http://facebook.com/david.pancost David Pancost

    “Question-askers mess with the status quo.”

    Which is why Socrates was forced to decide to either be banished from Athens or drink a cup of Hemlock. Either way, for him asking questions lead to death. Now that’s an extreme example, I know, but the reality is that people don’t like anyone messing with the status quo.

    Questioning everything, however, is the only way you can actually make sure that you’re living by your own internal values. The fun thing is that question asking makes life a very exciting adventure. :-)

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank your for this very necessary reminder. It’s really important. Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      If there is something that I am not willing to even look at, chances are it has me by a chain. Thanks for taking on this adventure!

  • http://www.kdaydesign.com Kyle

    This is a great post for a Monday, it reminds me to avoid complacency and make friends with discomfort.

    I work for an organization that used to be very entrenched in its ways. Questioning anything led to exactly what you described: silence or push back. In extreme cases, there were some people who would go above the question-asker’s head and make sure their ideas were shut down.

    Sometimes who you’re asking is as important as the question itself.

    • Anonymous

      ewwww….I’m hoping that because you said “used to be” that your work environment is no longer like this. I worked in a similar kind of environment and had to quit – twice – because it had such a negative suck on me.

      And yes – the person we choose to field our question is every bit as important as the question itself.

      • http://www.kdaydesign.com Kyle

        Yes, things have certainly improved over the last couple years, though I’m not sure what made me stick it out!

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  • http://www.paulylacosta.com Paul L’Acosta

    It’s the basis of true understanding. Thanks Sarah and see you soon! ~Paul

    • Anonymous

      oh right!!! you will be at SOBCon – yay!!

  • http://www.billhandy.com Bill Handy

    Back in the day we called it having a good BS radar/meter and using it on yourself from time to time. Of couse we called that “eating your own dog food”.

    Going to go rock in my rocking chair now.

    -Bill

    • Anonymous

      I like the wisdom you dispense from your rocking chair. :-)

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    This is why I’m always trying to find my enemy when I blog. It’s great to have people say how smart you are, but the ones who disagree with you is when you begin to escape mediocrity. It takes a tough skin, but it’s very much worth it!

    • Anonymous

      I was in the middle of a conversation like you describe on another blog last week. I said “if we can’t learn from those who have conflicting views, I don’t understand the conversation.” Some people go that and some didn’t. And you are the one who taught me that having a tough skin goes with the territory. :-)

  • Jon Lewis

    Okay. I’m questioning whether to question everything. There is a happy medium, and like everything, you can take some ideas too far. Questioning can be great, but questioning can also cause doubt where not warranted. There has to be tact.

    • http://facebook.com/david.pancost David Pancost

      I agree, Jon. Second guessing yourself can lead to a lot of “analysis paralysis” and other negative consequences.

      I think what Sarah had in mind was more to do with questioning authority/experts. Too many people swallow what others say with out really thinking about it and that can lead to trouble.

      For instance, in my earlier attempt at blogging, I blindly followed the “expert” advice that I should post every day or at least 5 times a week. I tried that and very quickly exhausted myself and my ability to write quality posts. Since then I’ve discovered what best works for me (twice a week).

      Now I always question the “experts” and follow their advice only after thinking about it first.

    • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

      If you don’t question it how do you know your doubt wasn’t warranted?

    • Anonymous

      Totally get that Jon. For me, I want to feel comfortable calling into question anything and everything. That doesn’t mean I necessarily WILL, but if there is something I hold too sacred to question – that’s the thing that’s gonna trip me up. And the reverse is also true. I have to be willing to be questioned. The discomfort of that is quite the learning experience. And I always think it’s important to use tact, nice manners, and an openness to being wrong. My Mother The English Teacher would be appalled by anything less. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Ah, questions – my favorite subject. OK, just one of my favorite subjects. But since the others are curiosity and wonder, I submit that they’re all related.

    Questions are good, and like many things, must be used wisely. Questions are powerful – or they can be. A question is most powerful when the asker waits for the answer and really listens to it.

    Ask. Question. Wonder. Be curious.Don’t accept the status quo just because it is there. But celebrate it if you get a good answer. And be willing to be rocked if you get a surprising answer. Yes, leaving room for different opinions is sort of the point.

    Asking questions isn’t only about rattling cages. Ask questions with a generous spirit, and be willing to be changed by the answer. Be willing to be rattled as much as to rattle, and that is a powerful question and a powerful Asker.

    • Anonymous

      Totally agree Susan. We must be willing to examine ourselves as much as, or even more than, we examine others. I believe it is that openness that allows everything to wash over us without (much) resistance. And being available to really HEAR the answer to the questions we pose, even if we don’t like them, is the key to it all. Thanks for making this conversation better. :-)

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    LOL. When I saw the title of this post I just HAD to come read it. Absolute truth! DO question everything. And YES, even some close collaborators will “go radio silent on you” when you push them out of their comfort zone and they don’t know what else to do. Others will insist that they are open-minded and you are not. (I find that very interesting – that the more polarized in black and white someone is thinking the more they think THEY are the open-minded one. But I don’t understand it really.)

    What I want to know is this. When confronted with proof that conflicts with the status quo and all you’ve been conditioned to believe what are they really thinking? Do they simply not believe anything that doesn’t agree with their current paradigm? Do they rationalize it away? Or do they just pretend they didn’t see or hear it? One of these days I am going to find someone who does that who is willing to tell me how they can ignore overwhelming proof that the illusions they’ve lived in all their lives are false.

    • Anonymous

      When you write your research findings on this, will you please share?! I am equally mystified.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s a great idea. But is it really time consuming? –Don’t mean to be sarcastic. Right now I’m focused on questioning the idea that I need to be accomplishing more in a day than I actually have time to do and working on blowing that belief right out of the water with a big old bazooka.

    Thanks for the article,
    Lily

    • Sarah Robinson

      I applaud your bazooka skills – yay you!!! I don’t really add “questioning” to my to-do list as much as I just take it with me wherever I happen to be. Sometimes the question and answer takes about.05 seconds. And sometimes it takes longer. The trick is to catch yourself before blindly doing, following, believing or whatever. Just a slight pause is often all it takes. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/marksherrick Mark Sherrick

    If you don’t ask questions, you can’t truly know the answer.

    If nobody ever rattled the cage around them, people would still think the earth was flat and was the center of the solar system.

    If nobody ever rattled the cage around them, the United States of America would definitely not exist as it does today, and likely not at all.

    If nobody ever rattled the cage around them, we wouldn’t have the Hooligan community that we do thanks to Sarah and her friends.

    If nobody ever rattled the cage around them, we would all be living in cages…

    thankfully we do not. Shake your cages, folks – try to take the door off, even!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jbleakley1 Jason Bleakley

    So true! Well done.

  • http://www.anikejewels.com Anike Jewels

    My thoughts exactly! Thank you for sharing this.

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  • Joanne

    Just bought this as a bumper sticker for my car, so I agree: Question Everything!

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