Putting aside your ego and having the humility to seek advice or help, or learn more from others, is essential in maturing as a father and helping your family as a whole.

Chris Gardner credits the power of being teachable for raising him and his son out of homelessness.

The single dad at the centre of the movie The Pursuit of Happyness wasn’t always a fan of asking questions.

Retrospectively, Gardner has said he didn’t really appreciate the positive impact of asking questions ‘of the right people, at the right time.’

Now, he’s learned the importance of asking “how to” instead of wallowing in the woes of “why me?”


Pursuit of Happyness - ask questionsAt the beginning of his book, “Start Where You Are”, Gardner wrote,

‘The more I got past my own ego, the more willing I was to flex my question-asking muscles, the more daring I became in putting the answers to use.’

Asking the right questions empowers possibility.

The biggest success stories Gardner said he’s come across, involve people who “in tough times, never stopped asking themselves big questions.

They never ceased, “to dare, dream, and do — and create — using every resource at their disposal.

Being struck or stuck by circumstance — inherited or otherwise — may get us down, but if we pursue teachability, they cannot keep us pinned down.


Former Forbes contributor Ashira Prossack somewhat agrees.

Prossack wrote,

Simply put, the more questions you ask, the more answers you’ll receive and the more solutions you’ll uncover […] By simply asking a different question, you can open up the possibility of having dozens of different answers and ways to solve a problem.’ 

He explained,

‘The trick to solving a big problem is to break it down into smaller problems […] It’s much easier to tackle something step by step than it is to be staring down a behemoth of a challenge.’

Solutions need quality questions, because the quality of a question necessitates the quality of an answer.

Harvard Business Review calls the vacant space left from not asking the right questions, a ‘missed opportunity.’

Having a teachable approach to problem-solving has a major influence on outcomes.

Leaning on Behavioural Science, HBR said, ‘the biggest inhibitor’ to asking questions is ‘that most people just don’t understand how beneficial good questioning can be.’

Learning + Relationship-Building

For Harvard, ending a sentence with a question mark, trumps ending a sentence with a period.

Citing research as far back as the 1970s, they argued,

‘People have conversations to accomplish some combination of two major goals: information exchange (learning) and impression management (liking). Recent research shows that asking questions achieves both.’

HBR concluded: not asking enough questions limits relationships, and hinders possibilities for problem-solving.

Providing some ideas on improving how, and when we question, HBR suggests:

  1. Favour follow-up questions: People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.
  2. Know when to keep questions open: avoid interrogation. Whilst direct questioning has a place, open-ended questions can result in more unique answers.
  3. Get the sequence right: well-timed questions can influence future queries. Whereas blunt, confrontational questions right off the bat may close off answers.
  4. Use the right tone: Casual tones invite participation; overly formal tones can close people off, inhibiting their willingness to share information.’

Matching The Pursuit of Happyness star Chris Gardener’s advice on questions, author and leadership mentor John C Maxwell notes: ‘Good questions inform, great questions transform.

Being teachable by honing the humble art of asking questions transposes into good advice for fathers.

Pushing aside the cliched ‘self-help’ fluff and its polished power slogans, questions cut through the foggy grime of the dad’s daily grind.

Questions unlock possibilities. They trim off the fat. I know from my own experience that a good percentage of fathering is about problem-solving.

From time to time this looks like a dispute between two warring children, financial events, or fixing equipment.

For dads, questions power potential. Being teachable opens doors to solutions without which progress, healing, professional, and personal growth are impossible. Successful fathers ask good questions.

With this in mind, repurpose Harvard’s assertions, and aim more to put a question mark at the end of sentences, than a full-stop.

To quote Solomon, ‘Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.’ (Proverbs 12:1, ESV)


Photo by Nathan Cowley.

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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