The Magic of Questions

I love magic. Whether it’s a big-name illusionist like David Copperfield, or my son showing me a new card trick that he’s learned, magic always captivates me. I enjoy the suspense, the shroud of mystery, the surprise that I already know is coming. That Oh, that’s so cool, moment.

But here’s the thing. While my initial reaction is typically Wow! How did they do that?, that’s where my curiosity stops. I don’t actually want to know how it’s done. I prefer for my mind to remain blown. Isn’t that the whole point? If the secret is revealed, the mystery dissolves. I don’t have to wonder any more. But the magic is lost.

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There’s a reason why the best magicians don’t reveal their secrets. Isn’t that why their illusions are so entertaining? The marvelous beauty of the mystery. The transfixing moments that leave you in wide-eyed wonder. If you were simply given all the answers to everything, you wouldn’t have anything left to be curious about. Nothing left to question. Nothing left to learn. Nowhere left to grow.

Some people can’t just enjoy the moment, embrace the mystery and let it inspire them. They must know how the magic is done. Buzzkills take it even further and find their greatest satisfaction in pulling back the curtain to expose the magician as some sort of fraud. As if we’re supposed to say, “Thanks, Frank. He’s a fake. You’re a genius.”

From my perspective, having all the answers is a creativity killer. Where is the opportunity for growth in that? A pocket full of definitive answers leaves you creatively broke. Arriving at nothing but black and white conclusions stifles the infinite possibilities within a technicolor dream world of discovery. Your imagination only gets led down dead end streets. At your best, you’re only a copycat of someone better.

The best leaders aren’t the best because they already know everything. Masters of a craft aren’t masters because they’ve “mastered” it, per se. They’re constantly pushing limits and boundaries. Searching for more. Finding answers along the way that somehow lead to more insightful questions. They’re fascinated by what they still don’t know, enjoy the ebb and flow and are still awed by the mystery of it all.

Personally, I would find more value in sitting one-on-one with someone who simply asks good thought-provoking questions than I would sitting in an arena listening to some so-called “expert” know-it-all. Ironically, I would trust and enjoy the questioner’s company more because they can admit that they don’t have all the answers. They’re willing to leave the answers, and further questions, up to me.

I’m glad that there are others like me who embrace the magic of questions. And I’m sure there’s a place for everyone else who simply must know how the magic happens. I just hope they aren’t sitting too close to me at the show.

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