"There are no stupid questions."

I'm sure we've all heard how "There are no stupid questions," plenty of times... But, let's be honest, there are stupid questions. There are questions we all hear that make us go "Ouch... how could they ask that?"

And, knowing how quick we are to judge others for their stupid questions, we hold back on asking our own.

Especially when we feel that "Ouch" with our own stupid questions. When the struggle to understand is inexplicable. That tip-of-the-brain, "how am I not getting this?" feeling, when it ... all ... just ... feels ... out ... of ... reach. And the more we think it through, the further it feels.

When you ask enough stupid questions you start to realize that asking the stupid question is the only thing that saves you from doing something stupid.

Case in point: I was on the phone with a coworker, discussing an important project. As most important projects go, it came with different risks we had to weigh. We'd been discussing it for days. It was the kind of mental work that goes home with you, infiltrates your personal life, and your nightly dreams. It was weighing on us heavily.

One day, I called him on the drive home to discuss it more, desperately hoping we'd find a solution.

We chatted as we both multitasked. Me, stuck in traffic, him... doing whatever else it was. And we kept coming back to the same impasse.

Then, after a long pause, he sighed and hit me with: "It's time to just bring the whole thing right up the edge, and let's just let it dangle over a bit. Right to where it's practically falling over. But then, we keep it from tipping over by adding a big old reliable rock on top of it. We can even have some kind of safety net if we need."

I sat there, puzzled. I was trying to understand what was the edge? Which part did he want to dangle? What (or who?) was the "big old reliable rock" that we could use to reduce the risk? He seemed so confident in what he was advocating, while I was a puddle of confused goo.

After a long pause, I finally swallowed my pride and said: "I'll be honest, I'm really not following - what are we taking to the edge?"

"Huh?" he responded.

"I'm not getting it - how does the analogy work?" I asked, admitting stupidity.

"Oh... no, sorry. That was to someone else. We're decorating for a party. And the streamers we're hanging keep falling. We need a way to secure them."

Ask the stupid question, so you don't make stupid decisions.


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