Breakthrough questions

Among people who live a life of the mind, courage and conviction is a hard combination to beat, as Kris pointed out in a recent post from the MIT conference he attended.

Between the Lines reported that Nicholas Negroponte has this to say about "impossible."

"Impossible" at MIT is a code word for "Do it."

I LOVE people like that.

But courage, clarity and conviction is an even more potent combination. Whether in science, theology, the arts or other creative pursuits, a problem well stated, as they say, is half solved.

In many of these cases there is an intuitive understanding of the challenge. I know in my own experience building wood furniture, the questions are one of space, proportion, weight, contrast, color, depth, texture, joinery and size. These questions are understood and I enjoy the pursuit of design in the middle of a project.

Charles Radtke, who never visualizes the finished product from a drafting board, is a modern wood furniture maker that I admire both for his design sense and his sense of adventure. 

But sometimes clarity requires us to formulate a precise question in order to arrive at a satisfying answer. In other words, it's beneficial to take a step back from the constant mental churn to ask the right question.

Early in my married life, it was this question: "why do you see this differently than I do?" I can tell you that got me a whole lot closer to a satisfying answer.

Problem half solved.

Today, I'm adding a new category to make those well-stated problems easily accessible to future Festival participants by cataloging some of your breakthrough questions asked on the way to creative solutions.

Happy (clear) questioning!

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