Dumb Questions

You know, those questions that usually start with "should I..."

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Ah, the things we can learn from the idioms we use everyday. We’re awash in them for better or worse.(1) Some of them we find really useful, and some of them — well, some of them grate like nails on a chalkboard.(2) For instance, we’ve all heard someone say “there is no such thing as a dumb question.” But really? Come on. There is no way that’s true. I’d be willing to bet(3) you’re thinking of someone right now you had the misfortune of sharing a classroom with. In fact, every time I hear (or say) “there are no dumb questions,” I immediately concoct a few “dumb questions” in my mind.

I want to offer a phrase today for us to think about. Ok, I won’t call it “dumb” for fear of offending, but I will refer to it as “harmful.”

The phrase is “Should I…”, and it usually takes some form of “Should I go do that thing that is good for me?” So,

  • “Should I get up and exercise?”
  • “Should I call someone and tell them that I care?”
  • “Should I be proactive with my clients?”
  • “Should I forgive so and so who did that one really awful thing to me?”
  • “Should I…?”

These are the kind of questions we ask in our own minds when we already know the answers. When we allow it to linger, it is the question itself that is our block and our enemy.The longer we allow questions like these to linger in our minds, the more time we give our Lizard Brain to create excuses. And the more we sustain these sorts of questions, the less our ability to take the action we already know we should. Let your questions be your guide. But when you are asking one that you know the answer to already, stop asking and start doing.

There may not be dumb questions, but it is likely we have some that are there simply to provide us an excuse for not taking action.

  1. There’s an idiom right there.
  2. There’s another one.
  3. And one more, for good measure. Also, “for good measure” is an idiom. Ok, I’ll stop now, I promise.
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