Most book titles are cheesy, and the ones that are provocative often lead you astray. But when this book was recommended to me, it immediately went on my Amazon wishlist.
Peter Block’s book, however, was nothing like I imagined. I thought that if the answer to How? was yes, then I didn’t understand the question. Or that questions were stupid and actions were all that mattered. As an action-oriented guy, I thought I would resonate with him saying that we should stop asking questions and start changing the world.
But that’s not his approach. Block articulates that when seeking to change or start something, the how questions are constraining. By asking them, we’ve already cemented our approach. For example, when asking, “How much will it cost?” we already assume that money is needed for something.
But, instead of simple deconstruction, Block builds and offers new questions:
- Instead of asking, “How do you do it?” you ask, “What refusal have I been postponing?”
- Instead of asking, “How long will it take?” you ask, “What commitment am I willing to make?”
- Instead of asking, “How much does it cost?” you ask, “What is the price I am willing to pay?”
- Instead of asking, “How do you get those people to change?” you ask, “What is my contribution to the problem I am concerned with?”
- Instead of asking, “How do we measure it?” you ask, “What is the crossroad at which I find myself at this point in my life/work?”
- Instead of asking, “How have other people done it successfully?” you ask, “What do we want to create together?”
By switching the questions, we move from a life and work centered on bottom lines and benchmarks to a life of meaning and fulfillment.
But if you’re thinking, “I’m just biding my time and padding my bank account while working for the man so that one day I can do what I want,” then Block has a message for you, too. You’re being too predictable, and you’re still falling into the trap of the first six questions. Block writes, “Choosing to act [now] on ‘what matters’ is the choice to live a passionate existence, which is anything but controlled and predictable.”
And he keeps dropping the hammer throughout the entire book. Block knows what he’s talking about, and anyone looking to start something or change something should read this book. As should anyone wondering, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” no matter how old you are.
I read several books a year, and this is on the list of those I’ll reread every year because something new will hit me every time I sit down with it. I started it on Friday, by the way.
It’s that good.