Stay in the Question

Having all the answers isn’t a good thing, says Tim Hurson, productive thinking and creative leadership expert. “Productive thinking requires us not to rush to answers, but to hang back, to keep questioning even when the answers seem obvious.”

Being OK with ambiguity fosters creative thinking, he says, but acknowledges it’s hard to do. “We are patted on the head for coming up with that one right answer quickly—the faster you answer, the smarter you are,” says Hurson, who’s also the author of Think Better, An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking. “This drive for singularity and speed continues in our adult lives. In business, the successful manager is the one who is decisive and always has the right answer.”

But being able to stay with the question is one of the most powerful thinking skills you can develop. Here’s how he says to do it:

“Question. The more we question and the more we stay in the question, asking it over and over again, the more useful our ultimate answers will be.”

“Remember, initial ideas usually aren’t ideas at all. They are little more than regurgitations of the patterns we already have. The reason they arise is simply that they lie so close to the surface of our consciousness. They have little to do with productive thought. They are merely recalled.”

“Live in your question until you can see the vast panorama of possible answers.”

“Make lists all the time. Ask why things are the way they are. Ask how things might be different. Always be making lists.”

“Your mind is a treasure box of ideas, inspirations and insights ricocheting and resounding through your hundred billion neural connections,” Hurson says. “Sometimes you just have to wait for them to come into view.”

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