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August 6, 2020

Opportunity to Learn

by Amanda Chong

Leadership, Self Improvement

Question = Authority Opportunity to Learn

As children get older—usually starting at about 2 ½ to three years—they will use language to ask questions.[1] That marks the beginning of a torturous life for parents… Agree? Imagine children clinging on to you with never ending “Why?” It is not uncommon that parents get frustrated and silence their children, putting a full stop to an opportunity for them to learn more.

At school, children were taught to obey the rules, everything taught by their parents and teachers must be oh, so true. At work, those who conform are rewarded, those who get the most correct answers are labelled as Champions. On the flip side, those who raise questions or doubts are being accused of being rebellious or worse still, spreading negativity. Why?

Questions stir fear in us because we think that being able to answer everything proves us ingenious and we can get punished for not knowing. Questioning can be perceived as a challenge to authority[2], as something wasting our time because it does not give us what we want – The Answer. But thinking about this, without questions, will answers even exist?

The world is experiencing rapid change. “What got you here might not get you there” – by Marshall Goldsmith. Leaders need to keep up with this by constantly questioning what’s next, what works, what doesn’t… By saying leaders, it is not only the company’s CEO or our managers. I am implying all of us. Why not change out perception towards questioning, from authority to opportunity to learn?

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” – Bill Nye. If children can learn from the adults, why can’t the adults learn from children? If we can learn something from our superior, why not the other way round?


[1] Using Questions to Support Your Child’s Learning, by Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parlakian. February 20, 2011. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/219-using-questions-to-support-your-child-s-learning#:~:text=As%20children%20get%20older%E2%80%94usually,an%20interesting%20object%20or%20person

[2] Become a Company That Questions Everything, by Warren Berger. April 30, 2014. https://hbr.org/2014/04/become-a-company-that-questions-everything


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