Questioning and Posing Problems


Having a questioning attitude.

Developing strategies to produce needed data.

Finding problems to solve.

How do you know?



“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”

Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize Winner)


“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”



“Nothing shapes our journey through life so much as the questions we ask.”

Greg Levoy


“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.”

Claude Levi-Strauss, businessman


“Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”

Roger Lewin


“Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.”

Albert Einstein


“Bromidic though it may sound, some questions don’t have answers, which is a terribly difficult lesson to learn.”

Katherine Graham


“Find a way to engage the heart in the problem and you are likely to see the child rise naturally to his own optimal levels of uncertainty, risk and relevance.”

Richard Jones


“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke


“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”

Jacob Bronowski


“Here are the three great questions which in life we have over and over again to answer:

Is it right or wrong? Is it true or false? Is it beautiful or ugly?

Our education ought to help us to answer these questions.”

John Lubbock


“A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity.”

Samuel Johnson


“It is in the formulation of the problem that individuality is expressed, that creativity is stimulated, that nuances and subtleties are discovered.”

Herbert Thelen


“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances.”

Albert Einstein


“When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen.”

Arland Gilbert


“If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking — by all means ask!”

W. Clement Stone


“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them, they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.”

Orison Swett Marden


“If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.”

Dr. Robert Anthony


“There is no education like adversity.”

Benjamin Disraeli


“Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.”

Kahlil Gabran


“Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best.”

Michael Johnson, 200 and 400 meter world record holder


“A problem is your chance to do your best.”

Duke Ellington


“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

John Foster Dulles


“When you are face to face with a difficulty, you are up against a discovery.”

Lord Kelvin


“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

Jean-Baptiste Moliere


“It’s not the answers that enlighten us, but the questions.”



“If we would have new knowledge, we must get a whole world of new questions.”

Suzanne Langer


“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”

Eleanor Roosevelt


“If you spend more time asking appropriate questions rather than giving answers or opinions, your listening skills will increase.”

Brian Koslow


“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”

William Arthur Ward


“A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes


“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.”

Samuel Johnson


“Philosophy may be defined as the art of asking the right question…awareness of the problem outlives all solutions.  The answers are questions in disguise, every new answer giving rise to new questions.”

Abraham J. Heschel


“Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solution.”

Edward Somers


“He who is ashamed of asking is ashamed of learning.”

Danish Proverb


“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”

G. K. Chesterton


“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

Charles Kettering


“The vast majority of problems, decisions and situations which confront us daily are those which do not have just one answer.  Several solutions are usually possible.

Logic suggests that if one can mentally generate many possible solutions, the more likely it is that an optimum solution will be reached.

This a creative process—the formation of new and useful relationships.”

Richard E. Manelis


“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”

Bernard M. Baruch


“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.”

Nancy Willard


“Ask a question and you’re a fool for three minutes; do not ask a question and you’re a fool for the rest of your life.”

Chinese Proverb


“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reasons for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Albert Einstein


“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

Ellen Parr


“It is not only by the questions we have answered that progress may be measured, but also by those we are still asking.”

Freda Adler


“The key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions.”

John A. Simone, Jr.


“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Mahatma Gandhi


“Why and How are words so important that they cannot be too often used.”



“Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.”

Stephen Covey


“The one real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking  questions.”

Bishop Mandell Creighton


“The world is but a school of inquiry.”

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne


“He who has a why can bear almost any how.”

Friedrich Nietzsche


“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?”

Charles Connolly, psychologist


“I have no special gift.  I am only passionately curious.”

Albert Einstein


“When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

Richard Buckminster Fuller


“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”

Theodore Rubin


“The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.”

Alan Saporta


“The real problem is what to do with the problem-solver after the problems are solved.”

Gay Talese


“Good questions outrank easy answers.”

Paul A. Samuelson, Nobel Laureate in Economics


“There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough to solve.”

Mike Leavitt, former Governor of Utah


“It is better to know some of the questions than all the answers.”

James Thurber


“Problems are the price you pay for progress.”

Branch Rickey, Baseball manager and executive


“We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

John W. Gardner


“Be curious always!  Knowledge will not acquire you – you must acquire it. “

Sudie Back, psychologist


“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


“I have always grown from my problems and challenges, from the things that don’t work out, that’s when I’ve really learned.”

Carol Burnett


“Outstanding listening leaders understand that true wisdom begins with the questions we ask. Like Albert Einstein, intelligent people ask great questions. Moreover, the best questions are the questions we create and ponder for ourselves; especially the questions that prepare us for difficult and challenging times.”

George Knuteson, President of WhisperGLIDE Swing Company


“Ultimately, we are seeking a better understanding of what is means to be human. In this quest, progress is not made by finding the ‘right’ answers, but by asking meaningful questions.”

Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores


“Asking a question is the simplest way of focusing thinking…Asking the right question may be the most important part of thinking.”

Edward de Bono


“We grow up never questioning that which is unquestioned by those around us.”

Margaret Mead


“There are questions which illuminate, and there are those that destroy. I was always taught to ask the first kind.”

Isaac Isador Rabi, Nobel prize-wining physicist


“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”

Henry J. Kaiser, American industrialist, shipbuilder


“There are innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was created, why was it not created sooner?”

Samuel Johnson


“It is easier to judge a person’s mental capacity by his questions than by his answers.”

Le Duc de Lévis


“To question a wise man is the beginning of wisdom.”

German Proverb


“‘Tis not every question that deserves an answer.”

Thomas Fuller


“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”

Francis Bacon


“I can evade questions without help; what I need is answers.”

John F. Kennedy


“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

Anthony Robbin


“Good questions, ones that we care about and want to answer, call us outward and to each others. They are an invitation to explore, to venture out, to risk, to listen, to abandon our positions. Good questions help us become both curious and uncertain, and this is always the road that opens us to the surprise of new insight.”

Margaret Wheatley, Forward of The World Café


“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel,


“You know children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.”

John J. Plomp, author


“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

Dorothy Parker, writer and poet


“We only think we are confronted with a problem.”

John Dewey


“There are no foolish questions, and no man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.”

Charles Steinmetz, electrical engineer


“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

Lee Iacocca, American industrialist


“It is more important to ask one good question than to settle for easy questions with obvious answers.”

Beverly Nance


“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

John Steinbeck


“The ‘silly question’ is the first intimation of some totally new development.”

Alfred North Whitehead


“Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.”

René Descartes


“The trouble with life isn’t that there is no answer, it’s that there are so many answers.”

Ruth Benedict, American anthropologist


“Successful leaders are great askers.”

Warren Bennis


“I love solving problems. That’s emotional cookies for me.”

Liz Bishop, senior vice president of Heffernan Insurance Brokers, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal


“Fear paralyzes; curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid.”

Patricia Alexander, American educational psychologist


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein


“The wise man questions the wisdom of others because he questions his own,

the foolish man, because it is different from his own.”

Leo Stein, American art collector and critic


“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”

Indira Gandhi


“Not every question is a good one. I hate the phrase ‘there are no stupid questions’ because, actually, there are a LOT of stupid questions – we just don’t want to make the stupid people feel stupid for asking them.”

Mike Figliuolo, writing at the ThoughtLeaders blog


“Problems are often stated in vague terms…because it is quite uncertain what the problems really are.”

John von Neumann


“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

M. Scott Peck American Author


“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”

Antony Jay, British writer, broadcaster, director and actor


“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

Voltaire, French writer, historian and philosopher


“One does not begin with answers. One begins by asking, ‘What are our questions?'”

Peter Drucker, business consultant, as quoted at


“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

Eugene Ionesco, French playwright


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