A vibrant colorful illustration of a person asking a question to another person in a lively discussion.

What’s your most valuable mindset?

Mine is inquiry.

We prize decisiveness, creativity, empathy, and plenty of others. And they’re all important! But I think approaching situations with questions has served me best.

In the classroom, it looks like asking how a student got to their result, or why their problem-solving approach was successful. Approaching with inquiry, even when the student is correct, builds confidence, efficacy, and a growth mindset. Even when a student goes off the rails or behaves inappropriately, asking rather than telling usually opens up valuable communication.

In planning, it looks like asking myself why a goal is important, why a given approach will be most effective, what other solutions should be considered, and what the potential pitfalls will be if I go this way. If I’m building a learning experience, it means asking how every second of the experience is valuable, revising when it’s not, and then asking again.

In management, it looks very similar. Even if I think I know a better way, I try to ask questions. If an employee or colleague is struggling, I try to dig into their thinking rather than just “fix” it with my own. When the need for behavioral intervention arises, I inquire into my employee’s mindset and choices even if I know they were problematic. Again, these lead to real communication. And my “best” solution might change based on knowing more about the circumstances.

In leadership, inquiry is even more critical! Genuinely asking others for their thoughts has been invaluable; even if I end up going my original direction, the contrast of others’ ideas has always helped refine and improve mine. The best leaders I’ve known ask genuine questions. The worst are the ones who know everything and act alone.

So: in the spirit of inquiry, would you pick inquiry as your MVM? (That’s Most Valuable Mindset!) Have you found others more valuable? And here’s the real question: why?





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