Answer the Question!

The movie A Few Good Men is responsible for delivering one of the most evocative scenes I can remember: The interrogation of Col. Nathan Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson) by Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise).

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Here’s the dialogue:

Lt. Kaffee: “Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?”

Judge Randolph: “You don’t have to answer that question!”

Col. Jessep: I’ll answer the question! You want answers?

Lt. Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.

Col. Jessep: You want answers?

Lt. Kaffee: I want the truth!

Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

Although I am certainly not entitled to you answering any question, I do have this simple challenge for you today: Answer the question!

Let’s start here: As leaders, we can agree that catalyzing learning through the placement of dynamic questions is a key leadership skill. We love it when people say, “No one has ever asked me that before. That is a good question.”

Asking questions is important. Answering questions is more important. To be effective, questions must translate into learning and action.

As I think about all of the articles I read, there are literally hundreds of good questions being asked in the blogosphere. I was recently challenged to take out a sheet of paper and make columns with the following three questions; “What are you good at? What are you passionate about? Where is the need?” Where those questions intersect can result in either confirmation or transformation. What piercing questions have you heard that are entitled to an answer? Whatever they are, take time to sit down, think through, process with others and answer those questions.

Here are 4 potential consequences to not answering your questions:

  1. Lack of productivity: If you don’t answer and act, you won’t get anything done.
  2. Hypocrisy: You cast a vision of yourself as someone who likes to talk about ideas, but you have no follow through.
  3. Loss of Opportunity: If you demonstrate over time that you’ve been given opportunity but haven’t taken advantage of it because of a lack of follow through, you may miss out on being able to advance.
  4. Diminished Capacity: You won’t grow if you don’t act on what you know.

Commit to answering a good question you’ve been asked today.


Photo credit: Variety