My little brother (the lawyer), turns out he is a really smart guy! We’ve been talking a lot this week about and opportunity/challenge that we have. Several times I’ve called him with “Will, what about. . . ” to which the wise young one replies, “What is the issue that you are trying to address. . . ” (a more eloquent way of saying, “so what’s your point?”)
I should back up. My mom has a white board next to the phone and for as long as I can remember in blue marker across the top of the board my dad’s cell phone number (and boy is there a story to go along with that, but I’ll save that, let’s just say, don’t go copying that number when you stop by to visit!) and “What’s the point?” She keeps it there because it’s a really good question to ask, or at least keep in mind. I learned the value of “So what’s the point” in my MA program. One evening we spent 45 minutes in groups solving one of those “If you were shipwrecked what items would you keep” type of problems. We were all working hard to use all of our leadership/group/collaborations skills (It was a Group Dynamics and Collaborative Leadership class) at the end of the time it turned out the whole lesson was about the very first question that we should have asked (and no one did). . which was “What’s the point?” It turned out half the people in my group were working under the assumption that we were working to get rescued. The other half of the group was working under the assumption that we were going to have to survive without rescue. You come to different solutions depending upon the assumptions you are working under. The point was, we need to clarify “What’s the point” with our group before we got started. It was a big lesson. Be clear on the purpose before you get started, while you are working and when you finish.
My brother reminded me of that lesson again this week when he kept asking me, “What are you trying to do?” Turns out most of the time I had too big of a solution for the problem, or a good solution, for another problem. I’ve long been told it’s not about the answers, rather it’s about the questions. This week I’ve seen again the power of a good question, and sometimes it is as simple as, “So what’s your point?”