Sunday Firesides: To Get the Right Answer, You Must Ask the Right Question

Survival is an exhilarating game, which tests your skills against the elements and relentlessly pushes you to your limits. Surviving the harsh winter of Siberian tundra doesn’t come easy – but it’s worth every challenge when you finally reach that next summit and see what’s beyond.


You approach a door and insert the incorrect key into the lock. It does not rotate. Do you then continue to attempt that same key again and over?

Obviously not.

Yet, when we’re looking for life’s most essential discoveries, we do something quite similar. We ask a question, discover the answer we’re looking for isn’t available… and yet we keep asking the same question, thinking that with the passage of time or a change in circumstances, the solution will appear.

Persistence isn’t always required to unlock the insight; instead, it’s frequently necessary to try a new key – to ask a different question.

Instead of asking, “What is my life’s purpose?” “For what do I have a gift?” is a good question to ask. (“The skill is the call,” Emerson properly advises.)

Alternatively, try altering “What do I want from life?” to “What do I want from life?” “What is life asking of me?” to “What is life asking of me?” (In the words of Viktor Frankl.) 

Rather of asking, “Why are people treating me like this?” “What am I doing that is causing this treatment?” you may wonder. 

“What is the best option I can make to lead me to where I want to be in five years?” “What is the best choice for the time being?”

“Is this theological or philosophical assumption genuine or true?” isn’t the only question to ask. “However, what are its fruits?” “Does it function?” “Is it Beautiful?” is a simple question to ask. (Emerson says it again: “Beauty is the youthful soul’s pilot.”) And don’t forget to ask yourself, “What does it mean to be genuine or true, anyway?”

These are simply samples; the query you’ll need to write might be completely different. You must ask the appropriate question in order for the door to swing open on the right response, much as the shape of a key and the pins of a lock must align in order for that lock to revolve.