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D E C E M B E R    2 0 1 8    E D I T I O N

To be more creative,
stop asking these questions

Questions can fire the imagination and feed your creativity. In my research for The Book of Beautiful Questions, I found dozens of questions that can help in identifying fresh ideas, overcoming creative block, soliciting useful feedback, and getting an idea “out the door” and into the world.
However, the questions we ask ourselves about creativity also can have the opposite effect. They can undermine creative confidence or cause us to misdirect our efforts. In a post that ran recently on Fast Company’s site, I cited five questions that can be thought of as “creativity killers.” These are questions you should stop asking if you want to be more creative.
In the post, I explore such commonly-asked questions as AM I CREATIVE? (The answer is yes—and creativity researcher David Burkus explains why we should stop doubting ourselves and think of creativity “as a gift that is available to everyone.”)
Another question to avoid is: WHERE WILL I FIND AN ORIGINAL IDEA? As I explain in the full article, there are sources of inspiration all around—an abundance of raw material that we can begin to study and play with, even if we’re not quite sure how we might want to reshape it. This means the answer to that question Where do I find an idea? is simple: everywhere.
I also consider the question WHERE WILL I FIND THE TIME TO CREATE?, as well as HOW CAN I COME UP WITH A BLOCKBUSTER IDEA? These two questions, like other creativity-killing questions, mostly serve as excuses for not getting started on creative work. All the time you need is there; you just have to allocate it properly. And the notion that you can “find,” at the outset, a surefire winner of an idea is a fallacy. There’s no way of knowing before you do the work, so just start doing it.
Which brings us to the last question, WHERE DO I BEGIN? The short answer is, to quote composer John Cage, “Begin anywhere.” The longer answer regarding how to deal with this question (and the other four questions) is contained in the full article​

Ask these questions
and your boss just might promote you



Want to also share a piece I just posted on my “Questionologist” blog at Psychology Today. It’s on the sensitive issue of how to ask questions of your boss. Whenever I give talks at companies, this issue comes up: People want to be able to ask the boss questions, but they’re afraid it will make them look bad. But it’s possible to “question up” in ways that a supervisor is more likely to appreciate and respond well to. See the post “Ask These Questions and Your Boss Just Might Promote You,” for a few tips and a handful of questions to help with that.

The questioner gets questioned

Recently I hosted a Quora Session for the first time, and it was an interesting experience. People from all over world send you questions in advance, and then at the time of the session, you answer about 10 of those questions live on Quora.

People wanted to know how to use questions to make better decisions, how to be a better critical thinker, how questioning could improve their relationships and enhance their creativity, and how to use questioning to be a better leader. There were also a few unusual questions (“What do you do when you know you’re f---ing up your life and you can’t seem to stop yourself from doing it?”) and I tried to answer those as well.

You can check out the full Quora session here:

Later, parts of the Quora session got picked up by some of Quora’s partner sites at Forbes, Apple News, and Inc., under the headings How to Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills, Why The Best Managers Encourage Their Employees To Question Everything, How Can Leaders Foster a Culture of Honesty?, and How to Ask Smarter Questions When You Network.

I’m looking for college students who have read A More Beautiful Question (prize offered!)

There’s been growing interest in A More Beautiful Question as a college first-year reading book (meaning, a book assigned to all incoming freshmen students). In my outreach to colleges and universities about this, I’d like to be able to share some input from college students who’ve read the book.

If you read the book at some point in the last few years while attending undergrad-level college, send a quick email to to let us know that. I may then ask you to provide a short 2-line testimonial for the book. As a thank you for that testimonial, I’ll send you a free signed copy of my new book, The Book of Beautiful Questions. This is a limited offer; not everyone who emails me back will get a prize, but anyone who I actually ask to write testimonial will definitely get a prize.

A giveaway for audiobook lovers

This one is for people who like to listen to books.

At the 2015 Audie Awards, Audible named the audio version of A More Beautiful Question as “The Best Business/Educational Audiobook of the Year.” The same narrator who helped AMBQ nab that award is the narrator for 2018’s The Book of Beautiful Questions. This week we are giving away two free audiobook download links to the new book. (You would have to register with Audible/Amazon in order to redeem the promo code, but it does not require you become a member.)

In addition, I happen to have four MP3-CD disks to give away, containing the audiobook version of A More Beautiful Question. You can listen to these disks in a car or a home CD player or insert the disc into your computer and transfer the MP3 files to your iTunes library.

If you are interested in either or both of these free audiobook offers, send an email with “Audiobook request” in the subject line to by no later than one week from now: Wednesday, 12/19/18, 11:59 pm EST.

After that deadline, we will pick at random the winners of these two giveaways and notify them. (If you don’t get an email back from us, that means your name wasn’t chosen for this very limited promotion, sorry.)

And here’s something you can give to me…

Hopefully, some of you by now have picked up a copy of The Book of Beautiful Questions (or BBQ as we call it around here). If you’ve had a chance to read all or even some of the book and you like what you’ve found, I ask you to consider doing a short Amazon review. I know, it takes some effort, and who has the time to write reviews these days, etc. But it’s really important to authors like me to get those early reviews from readers. In the case of Amazon, it can affect the way they promote the book.

You don’t have to write a masterpiece of a review—just a couple of lines, with a few takeaways you might want share with others. My previous book, A More Beautiful Question, was successful in part because of all the great reader reviews (more than 200 of them on Amazon) and now I need the same kind of juice for the new book.

In spreading the word about The Book of Beautiful Questions, you are also spreading the message about how questions can help people with deciding, creating, connecting, and leading. This, in turn, helps me fulfill my own personal Beautiful Question that I’ve been pursuing the past 10 years: “How might I share the power of questioning with as many people as possible?”

Amazon reviews »

Thank you, as always, for your interest in beautiful questions, and I hope to continue the conversation with you on Twitter, Facebook, and the website.
Copyright © 2018 A More Beautiful Question, All rights reserved.

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