A More Beautiful Question Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: A More Beautiful Question will teach you how to ask more and better questions, showing you the power that the right questions have to transform your life for the better.

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A More Beautiful Question Summary

Do you remember asking your parents loads of questions when you were a child? Little did you know that the skill of being inquisitive could be so beneficial as an adult. The problem is, throughout your childhood you lose that natural curiosity that can improve your life in dramatic ways. 

Asking the right questions is a vital skill to have for success. It can change your entire life if you ask “why not me?” or “how can I improve?” Questions like these helped me start a company and double my income this year. Learning to be curious will change your life, but you need to know how to do it right for it to work. 

To invite the power of the right questions into your life, you need to learn to ask the four beautiful questions:

  1. Why?
  2. Why Not?
  3. What if?
  4. How?

In Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, he dives deeper into each of these to show you how they will improve your career and life.

Here are the 3 most curious lessons I’ve learned from this book:

  1. Asking questions makes us more creative and intelligent, but school takes this away from us at a young age.
  2. Questioning “why?” is good, but when you ask “why not?” you open hidden doors and find solutions to your problems. 
  3. “What if?” questions help you combine ideas to form better ones, and wondering “how?” helps you start acting on them. 

Put your thinking cap on and let’s learn how to ask great questions!

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Lesson 1: We are born with the important and useful trait of curiosity, but we lose most of this skill when we go to school.

Questions set humans apart from other species on earth. And not only that, but they are vital to our survival and success. When we investigate the world around us we learn to be creative and come up with new ideas that improve our lives. It’s important to know what you don’t know, but until you ask, you’ll never figure that out so you can learn more.

We’re lucky that each of us are born with this magnificent trait. If you are a parent or have been around kids recently, you know how many questions children ask. One estimate put the number at 40,000 questions a day from kids between two and four! Our research indicates that children don’t just seek attention either. They genuinely want to know about the world around them. 

Sadly, the American education system smothers this valuable skill. To be successful in school, you have to become good at learning facts so you can do well on tests. There’s no room to nourish curiosity when you’re worried about useless facts like what year the war of 1812 was. But this is why this book is so powerful, because wherever you are, you can learn to ask beautiful questions that will change your life.

Lesson 2: Ask “why?” to get smarter, but learn to ask “why not?” to become a more innovative thinker.

Let’s start with the first two questions. We begin with “why?” This is known as a naive question because of the innocent, child-like wonder that it represents. It’s good to wonder why things are a certain way because it helps us take apart and understand complex issues. For example, if I ask a politician why the country has run out of money, they must give a straightforward answer. Knowing the reason for the oversight can help improve the dire financial situation. 

“Why?” questions have their limits though. To go from simply getting answers to finding solutions to problems, we must ask “why not?” The power in this second beautiful question is in its ability to make us question our basic assumptions about the world. 

Many people just do what they do because “this is the way it’s always been done,” without ever questioning it. When you ask “why not?” you unleash the power of an innovative mind. This kind of thinking has changed lives, and our entire world. 

Take Airbnb for example. This revolutionary company began when two flatmates asked “why not offer conference goers an inexpensive place to stay in our own flat?” Their “why not?” question solved the problem of hotels around these events booking out, and changed our world at the same time.

Lesson 3: If you want to be more creative, try “what if?” questions, and for help taking action use “how?” questions.

A few years ago I got the book What If? by Randall Munroe as a gift. It’s a compilation of absurd scientific answers to the weirdest “what if?” questions. Although it’s mostly humorous, it has a very important point. Asking “what if?” has the power to change our way of thinking, which can improve our world. 

Imagine you lived in a village near a river. To get to the other side, people had to walk the bank until a shallow spot provided a way to cross. If you ask “why?” that might not get you anywhere. But asking “what if we built a bridge?” get you thinking outside of the box and on the road to solutions. While exciting, this question is only part of what you need to solve your problem. To get the bridge built, you have to ask “how?”

This last of the four beautiful questions is the most difficult to answer. It requires commitment, patience, and endurance to ask “how?” You have to be determined to follow-through with exploring all the necessary steps to solve your problems. But knowing how to implement your solutions is vital to seeing them become reality. 

By combining this question with the others, you give yourself the ability to put your new, life-changing ideas into action. With the power of questions on your side, you can do anything you set your mind to!

A More Beautiful Question Review

I’ve always loved asking questions, but A More Beautiful Question made me love it even more. The types of questions this book teaches us to ask are life-changing. It helped me reflect on some or the best experiences that I’ve had that began with asking a question, and motivated me to keep asking!

Who would I recommend the A More Beautiful Question summary to?

The 57-year-old third grade teacher who has to hear thousands of questions a day and wants to help their students learn to be curious, the 37-year-old writer who wants to become more creative, and anyone who would like to learn how to think more innovatively.

Last Updated on August 25, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.