Yesterday I mentioned that “How you gonna do that?” is a question that stops the idea flow. I’ve always been annoyed by cynical queries, but  it wasn’t until I read The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen that I really began to understand why questions matter so much. They write, “The size of your question determines the size of your answer. Few people ever ask  earning, inventing, innovating, generating and creating questions.” 

Whether you’re asking a question of yourself or helping someone else find a creative solution, what kind of question can help you find better answers? You can start with something as simple as, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” that helps you focus on a positive outcome. 

There’s another question starter that seems to be the companion of the creative thinker. Two little words can open up the imagination: What If? What if people could carry their favorite music around in a tiny device? What if we build a Website where friends could connect? What if we put solar panels on the roof of a car?

Or try asking yourself, “What can I do to…”

grow myself?

create abundance?

serve others?

find kindred spirits?

build my dreams?

have more adventure?

Don’t dismiss too quickly questions that challenge you and don’t stop asking because you don’t get an answer a minute after the question crosses your mind.

If I’m stuck or bored, there’s one question that I’ve found guarantees I’ll swing into action. That question, which seems ridiculously simple, is “How can I make things better right now?” As soon as I ask it, I start looking right in front of me for the answer. Sometimes the answer is a bit mundane (i.e. fold the laundry or stop being so grumpy), but move often it leads to an awareness of larger improvement that can be started immediately. 

Most certainly, notice whether you’re asking yourself questions that welcome or discourage creative thoughts. Once you become aware of the power of questions, you’ll start asking for the answers that you truly want.

$100 Hour: Trendspotter Faith Popcorn suggested that time is the hot commodity and great opportunity lies in creating a business designed to save people time. Personal concierge services have become increasingly popular, as have more specialized things. One of my favorites is a service that downloads music on busy folks’ iPods.

Explore More: Several years ago, I met  Maureen Thomson when she showed up in Making a Living Without a Job in Denver. Since then, she’s come to seminars in Boston and Las Vegas.  I’ve had the fun of watching her take a little idea of being a wedding officiant and build it into an enchanting business called Memorable Ceremonies. Maureen also writes a column for theNorth Denver News and her recent piece called Simple Pleasures brought more mail than anything she’d written. Take a look and I think you’ll see why. It’s a terrific piece about her own joyfully jobless journey and how she’s moved ahead. 

Outlandish ideas move the world ahead far more powerfully than logical steps. An outrageous imagination is ultimately the most practical contribution. ~ Alan Cohen

One Response to “IdeaStarter#10 Ask Idea-generating Questions”

  1. Judy Miranda

    Barbara, Thank you for these ideas! To counter all the negative questions and news being offered, I’m writing your questions onto Post-It notes and placing them around my home to bypass the negatives and continue thinking creatively as my new business gets up and running.

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