I'll be honest that I haven't been reading as much as I usually do. Most of that is an issue of the summer and being busy coaching baseball, doing yard work, taking and picking up kids from camp, and work. Mostly work. However, I've gotten back into it with a vengeance and began tackling the pile of books that has accumulated over that time. I do love my Kindle, but there is something to holding the book, dog-earing pages, and using a highlighter. Thus, the stack. I really did intend to read them when I bought them. Honest. Be warned though, I read more on the edges of leadership these days given that most of what is written about leadership these days seems to be repackaged. I must be getting old.
Anyway, I've been thinking a lot these days about asking good questions because I believe that most of the major issues we face in the world are a result of asking bad questions. Asking questions of "who is to blame" instead of "what are WE going to do about it," is just one example. So I'm gravitating to books that help me think more clearly, more often, and more openly. I found a really good one that you should pick up by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner…two economists…hang with me.
They are the authors of Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics, and their latest Think Like a Freak. All of them made me go "hmmm" out loud because they look at issues, problems, and challenges from the perspective of asking good questions to get at the root cause not just what it would appear to be on the surface. Our news comes to us pre-washed and shrunk to sizes that apparently we consume best – two sentence tweets. With that, we miss nuance, debate, perspective, the works. I truly believe that if we moved past the lens that we have crafted to see the world and actually see the world for what it is, many of these challenges facing us could actually be addressed.
Kicking the can down the road is not a solution any more. We will continue to find ourselves asking why we are in the same place as we were years before. Being economists, the authors write a lot about incentives and how to truly influence other people. As LeaderShapers, we embrace living in possibility every day and thinking about how best to influence others and ask good questions seems like an exercise worth doing. I would pick up Think Like a Freak as it is their latest and I think best book. I think you will really enjoy reading it. It's hard to put down.
On to the next book in the stack. Here we go…