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The Power of the Question

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” – Bruce Lee

Positive or generative questions are thought-provoking and at the heart of the Positive Money process. These questions come from a place of genuine curiosity and help us navigate our day even if we aren’t conscious of them. What time is it? What should I wear? Where are my keys? 


The Power of the Question

In The Art of the Question, author Marilee Adams reminds us that this is our natural state of being. “Since we basically walk the paths in life prescribed by our questions, it makes sense to ask those which can take us where we want to go.”


Power of Questions

While this state of inquiry comes naturally, it can get shut off or turned down when expressed aloud. Think back on the toddler whose litany of “Why” questions is eventually shushed by an impatient parent. In school, I remember the teachers getting annoyed by too many questions or my fear of looking dumb in front of my peers. We’re also not taught how to ask questions outside of research or scientific settings even though they’re at the heart of discovery and innovation. In our educational and workplace settings, we’re more rewarded for coming up with solutions than for raising questions. We think asking questions will make us seem inadequate or high maintenance or will delay a project when, more often than not, our rush to find a solution can cost us in the end. 


Why Positive Money Banks on Good Questions

Positive Money banks on powerful good questions that uncover existing strengths, advantages, and opportunities that might otherwise get missed. The questions are inspired by Appreciative Inquiry (AI), a practice that taps into collective wisdom and turns on the creative or problem-solving parts of our brains when we need solutions to complex problems. For example, one of the five core principles of AI is the Positive Principle which claims that positive questions lead to positive change.


Positive or generative questions often start with How, What, or Where instead of Why which can lead someone down a road of self-critique.

Positive or generative questions often start with How, What, or Where instead of Why which can lead someone down a road of self-critique. Once you pause and notice that you aren’t entirely sure how to respond, you can ask questions like:


  • How might this be a Positive Money move?

  • What matters most about this situation?

  • What does love look like here?


These questions and others like them can help unlock your greatest strengths and true self in any situation. When it comes to money, they help you connect to your core values and what you truly want or need at the moment. For example, if you really want a new car, take a moment to notice the thoughts and feelings you have about it. What about your thoughts and feelings seem positive and what seems negative? If your future self argues against it because it will put you into debt, what might your present self say? How might you resolve the differences? 


Getting an idea out of your head can be challenging, especially one related to a desire. However, when you commit to this process – when you choose Positive Money –  you tune into what serves you and turn off what doesn’t.


Note: Appreciative Inquiry was developed in the early 1990s by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva at Case Western Reserve University.



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