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Leadership by Choice: Increasing Influence and Effectiveness through Self-Management by Eric Papp

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Chapter 3

The Importance of Questions

Don't Answer Your Own Questions

Growing up, my dad taught me the value of questions and always told me not to answer my own questions. Often he would say, “We all have questions, and we hurt ourselves by answering our own questions.”

For example, say you're at a clothing store and you notice that a pair of jeans has two prices, $89.99 and a $29.99 reduced price. You look at both and think, “It can't possibly be $30 for this pair of jeans.”

Without hesitation or asking a store clerk, you walk away without actually knowing the real answer. Maybe that's the price and maybe not, but you gain no information at all by answering your own question.

I always wanted to attend the University of Notre Dame, but I knew that it would be too academically competitive to go there right out of high school. Most people at this point would stop and think, “If I can't get in my freshman year, I'll just go somewhere else.” But I didn't do that.

My question was, Could I transfer there and, if so, what was that process? Rather than asking and answering my own questions, I did the research and found out that, yes, I could transfer and learned about those requirements. After completing my freshman year at the University of South Florida, I applied and was accepted into the University of Notre Dame.

Leaders ask good questions and then sit back and listen. They don't pretend to know all the answers.

Questions and Onions

At some point, you have probably asked a question ...

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