“If you don’t understand something, ask someone to explain it in a different way. Try to say it back in your own words to see if you got it right. If you don’t understand something, odds are others don’t either. And being the idiot in the room could end up being an act of service for others.”

Simon Sinek

Once, aboard the S.S. Know-It-All, crew members strutted about like peacocks. They’d crossed this liquid maze countless times, surely no sea monster or tempestuous wind could stand in their way! Their confidence was contagious. Yet, I found their swagger veiled a deep-seated fear of questions. “What’s that on the horizon?” or “Has the North Star shifted?” Such questions were perceived as slaps in their sun-tanned faces.

Gradually, a comfy cocoon formed around the ship. It’s as though they’d boarded themselves up in a floating jazz lounge, with familiar tunes on loop. Everyone nodded to the same rhythm, fearing that an unfamiliar beat might break their dance. The occasional voice of dissent was treated like some embarrassing relative, stuffed in the cargo hold, never to be seen in broad daylight.

Then one day, I mused aloud, “What if questions were our allies? Not spies out to get us, but like those dramatic seagulls that always seem to know where the land is?” Each query could be a detour, a chance to spot dolphins or find a faster current. And what about criticism? Why not view it as the captain’s trusty parrot, always squawking when danger lurked or treasure beckoned?

Rather than squashing inquisition, why not embrace it, let it sweep the ship with a fresh sea breeze? The walls of our self-imposed echo chamber might come down, but think of the gala we could have on deck with all that extra space. Imagine the ship reshaped, now open and eager, with sails catching every gust of insight.

It’s a thrilling thought. A crew, rather than sulking at challenges, would dance a jig to confront them. And in such a world, every question, every critique would be the key to crafting a ship that doesn’t just glide but leaps forward with gusty enthusiasm.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.