No doubt, you have often heard it
said, "There are no stupid questions," or, "The only stupid question is the
question you didn't ask."
Although these statements-of-truth are often repeated, over the years I have found that very, very few people ever really ask the questions they should. -- For that reason, if you will notice, in almost every book I have written I capitalize the word "ASK" whenever it is used.
It is my opinion that the reason most people don't ask questions is because of the teachers (?) they encountered during their earliest education. -- How many times did a teacher (?) tell you to "sit down and shut up" when you asked a question in class? -- After enough instances, you finally 'learned' that asking questions was not acceptable behavior.
Beyond that, it is also my opinion that those of us who keep asking questions ... even after we have been told to "sit down and shut up" countless times ... are the ones who succeed in business and in life. That's because, unlike those who quit asking questions, we eventually get the answers we need to accomplish the things we want to do. The more questions we ask ... questioning anything and everything ... the greater our understanding of business and life.
I have known a lot of stupid people in my life. But, how do I know they are really stupid?
It's really very simple...
Really Stupid People never ask any questions.
Stupidity is a learned condition ... not an inherited trait.
Stupid people are created by parents, teachers, the clergy, and all the other authority figures. It begins the first time an inquiring young mind is denied the opportunity to 'question' the efficacy, accuracy, fidelity, veracity, or effectiveness of anything ... or that same inquiring young mind is denied access to known facts because the parent, teacher, or whoever, is too lazy to assist a child in finding an answer the child can understand.
Education should be about 'answering questions,' and teaching children how to 'find answers,' rather than about maintaining rules and accepting the input from any one source. Even known, proven facts should be taught to be questioned.
Then again, don't be holding your breathe waiting for our society to adopt such an educational format; based upon teaching 'questions,' rather than rote 'answers,' because ...
Bureaucratic bodies and crooks ... in government and business ... depend upon stupid people for their very existence.
Although the vast majority of authority figures ... in education, religion, the professions, business, government, and all other activities and endeavors ... are quick to recite "There are no stupid questions," or, "The only stupid question is the question you didn't ask," their 'sit down and shut up' attitude toward those who do ask questions speaks louder than their words.
When a person has been told to 'sit down and shut up' ... by either word or action ... enough times, that person finally learns that asking questions ... about anything ... is an unacceptable behavior. Then, it is easy for anyone seeking 'control' over that stupid (unquestioning) person by using one of the oldest tricks in the con-man's handbook -- "first give the victim the answer you want, then ask the question."
Unfortunately, in today's society, it has become ingrained in our populace that, "only stupid people ask questions." Thereby, it is only necessary for the bureaucratic body, or crook, seeking control over another ... for any reason ... to first give that person, or those people, the answer they want before they ask the question. -- Because their intended victim has already been conditioned to be stupid, they can proceed with impunity knowing they will never be questioned - and - if anyone should have the audacity to raise a question, it will be all too easy to get the stupid people they control to assist them in labeling the questioner a fool, an heretic, or even worse.
Stupidity Can Be Cured!
All you have to do is ASK!
Every condition in your life has it's cause. -- Poor people are poor, because they have never asked themselves, "why am I poor?" -- They just accept the condition and pass it along to their offspring.
Unless YOU learn to ASK for what you want from life, you will be stupid. But, you have to keep on asking, and Asking, and ASKING until you get the answers that will, finally and lastingly, lead you to a full understanding of success in business and in life.
ASK, and you will receive. -- It is better to appear to be stupid in the eyes of really stupid people than to NOT ASK and really be stupid yourself.
J.F. (Jim) Straw
Business Lyceum e-Letter
+++ [Moderator's Comments] +++
I almost agree with you Jim ;-). Your statements are true. However, I also learned that many people don't ask questions, not because they are afraid, but rather because they don't know the question to ask. When my oldest daughter was 10 or so she gave me a riddle: "A man is driving down the street with his radio on and pulls over to the side of the road and shoots himself. Why?" You could only ask questions that resulted in a yes or no answer. I didn't know the first question to ask! And I learned then that it's not a fear of asking, rather not knowing what to ask. So, it is up to us as teachers or mentors to bring out the questions in people.