The Power of Questions

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Questions — we have so many. Who gets health care or deserves it? Should students referred to as Dreamers be deported? Should transgender individuals be allowed to use the public restrooms that correspond with the gender to which they currently identify? Why do health disparities continue to exist? The Internet changed the world to what? When will tweets be expanded to 280 words?
Research, which is so important to evidence-based care, is about asking questions, as are the NCLEX, certification, high-stakes testing, and patient safety. At the 2017 NLN Education Summit, questions were in the air. How do we differentiate the DNP degree from the PhD? What are the purpose and hallmarks of DNP projects? Who should serve on DNP committees?
Organizations are defined by the questions they ask or fail to ask. A corollary posited by news commentators, whose work is all about asking questions, emphasizes that asking the right question is 95 percent of getting the right answer. Is that true? What makes a question good or bad? Is there such a thing as a bad question? There is no question that questions are fundamentally essential and impactful. They move us forward and shape destinies.
Interestingly, there is no one-size fits all format for them. In fact, it seems that the timing of the question, as well as the type of question asked, matters. In The Language of Man: Learning to Speak Creativity (2016, Daymark Press), Larry Robertson provides a typology of questions that have the potential to lead to incredible results. Check them out and try them on.
So, what’s my point? Glad you asked. Questions can shift perspectives and mindsets and result in the creation of pathways to breakthroughs. Simply stated, questions open us up. And when pursued tenaciously, answers, even unexpected ones, do come. Openness is central to creativity. And creativity requires a willingness to reconsider either deeply held assumptions or well-worn answers to pernicious and persistent problems. Keep asking your questions and encourage your students and colleagues to do so. Better options — the health of the nation and its creative capacity — depend on our asking questions.
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