A creative person is by nature a questioner. They are driven by doubt, curiosity and wonderment. It is our questions that fuel and drive our thinking. Many problems arise from making assumptions. If you assume, you think you know when you probably don’t. Questioning destroys assumptions.
Ask questions of yourself constantly. Ask yourself these questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? You can learn more by looking for an answer than finding it. Questions are more important than answers because they help you to be more engaged with the world around you. Voltaire said ‘Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.’
Visitors to galleries spend an average of eight seconds looking at a painting. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum restored Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch at great cost. The curators wanted to extend the time visitors spent observing the painting so they asked them to submit questions.
The curators selected the 50 most popular questions and supplied answers. Many questions focused on topics curators don’t like to address: Can you prove Rembrandt painted it? How much is it worth? Are there any good forgeries of it? Are there mistakes in the painting? Why is it good? Why is it so gloomy?
These questions and the curator’s replies were pinned near to the painting. The average viewing time increased to half an hour. Visitors alternated between reading the questions and answers then closely examining the painting. They looked closer, for longer. The questions stimulated their curiosity. They raised awareness of the richness and complexity of the painting.
Constantly ask questions. It helps you to be engaged with the world around you. We are surrounded by all the answers; we simply need to work out what the questions are.
Rod Judkins MA RCA is an artist, writer, and professional public speaker, delivering lectures and workshops that explain the creative process and help individuals and businesses to be more inspired in their lives and work. He is author of The Art of Creative Thinking the bestseller, Change Your Mind: 57 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Self.
Copyright Rod Judkins 2013