Course Description

When you think of powerful human attributes, what comes to mind? Intelligence? Resilience? Focus? Confidence?

These are important, sure, but the question I invite you to ponder is, “What qualities are the most upstream, such that when you have them, many other strengths naturally follow?”

Consider confidence. People sometimes ask me how to develop confidence and my answer is always “You don’t.”

Confidence is the effect of doing things that you’re afraid to do and facing fear. And to move through fear, you have to get curious enough about it to find its root.

"How do I develop confidence?" really asks, “How do I get rid of my fear?” You don't. You face it by being curious and getting intimate with the feeling. This is exactly how asking the wrong question makes you go in circles.

Many spend their entire lives trying to escape fear without ever being curious enough about it to learn what it’s trying to teach them. But what if we are here to heal fear, not manage it?

As humans, we are always asking questions, consciously or not. Your belief system is actually a set of questions that your actions say to Life, “Am I correct?” Life answers with things going well for you or not.

If you accept this, then you immediately see that asking intentional, clear questions is critical. Is your life unconsciously asking questions like:

  • “What happens if I spend half my waking hours doing something I don’t love?”

  • “Shall we stay together just for the kids?”

  • “Will money eventually buy me happiness?”

  • “If I just tell myself I’m okay, will I feel that way?”

When you become more conscious about the questions you ask yourself, you automatically become more aware of the ones you ask others, which is a whole other domain.

People constantly give you enormous amounts of information that is largely unseen because they you questioning/listening skills and awareness. If asking questions is yang, listening is yin. 

Listening means hearing between the lines, sensing the tones, the pace, the timbre, the word choice, and more. Did they answer quickly? Too quickly? What did they not say that you would have liked to hear? Did they give you too much information or too little? Did they look up or down? Right or left? Did they furrow their brow? Cross or uncross their arms? Laugh when it isn’t funny? It all means something. 

Most people know only how to listen to content; that is, to what was said. Listening to context, however, is a skill we must learn to be able to be deeply aware. You cannot effectively hire, manage, or train a person without this skill.

For example, some people know a handful of good interview questions, but they don’t know how to ask follow-up questions based on the answers to drill down to the bottom of the candidate’s values, attitudes, weaknesses, and more. 

The average hiring manager skates horizontally with questions that the candidate can easily perform, and then wonders what they missed months later when the employee’s true colors show. 

If you want to be able to hire for responsibility, ownership, engagement, and other subtle values-level attributes, you have to be able to listen between the lines. You have to know what stock language is and how to get underneath it. You have to be able to sense when someone is deflecting and not let them. You have to be able to feel when someone is contracting.

This leads us to the final topic of this course: intuition. Intuition is as much a sense as sight, touch, and taste, but for most of us, it is atrophied. If you’ve ever known something that you couldn’t possibly know, but just did, that was intuition. It can and must be developed if we’re to be high-functioning humans. Rather than just being a random event, with practice, you can use it reliably as often as your sense of smell.

Curiosity is a superpower, because it is upstream of all learning. When you are curious about something, you learn. When you are not, you don’t. If you’re curious about your own limits, they lessen. If you’re curious about how you don’t listen, you listen better. 

Curiosity is a soul-level attribute and is therefore foundational to everything you want: strength, intelligence, consciousness, resilience, confidence, focus, etc. Because any quality you want to be calls you to ask, “What’s getting in the way?” But only curiosity will see you through to the root answer.

Incuriosity is not only the cause of many of our societal problems but even moreso prevents their solutions. By the time we are preteens, we learn to stifle our curiosity and become “practical” adults who don’t ask curious and challenging questions (especially when they don’t know the answers) that threaten the status quo.

Recall how well the utterly relevant question, “When are we going to use all this?” went over in high school. That question, asked every day in our world, should cause public education curriculum to be completely rewritten, threaten teachers’ jobs, and unravel the very structure of our society. But for those fearful of change, curiosity must be immediately dismissed.


Consider what happened to Galileo when he asked the question, “How could I find out for sure if the Sun revolved around the Earth?” Or when Meister Eckhart (who was also excommunicated)  asked, “What if the belief in God actually inhibits the experience of It?”

Or when Federal Express asked the question, “What if we could deliver a package overnight?” Or when Steve Jobs asked, “What if your entire music collection fit in your hand?”

Curiosity and the questions that follow change our world. These are among the most powerful tools available to us as human beings, yet most of us will never wield them.

This course will change that for you. And finally, the obvious question:

Will you join me?

The Art of Asking Questions broadcasts live on Zoom, Thursdays at 11:15 am PT, beginning March 31, 2022 for 11, 1 hour sessions ending June 9. All recordings will be posted by the morning following the session, becoming an online course.

Josef Shapiro

Since I first trained as a business coach at EMyth in 2002, I’ve been a change agent for thousands of business leaders and managers. Coaching is a fast-growing industry, but it's also very young. I'm a perennial student and never satisfied with the pace of human change because I think we can do better. For me, it’s an unsolved mystery and the needless suffering inside workplaces around the world hangs in the balance. It affects us all. Learn more at clearandopen.com.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    1. Introduction

    • Introduction

    • Introduction

    • Assignment

  • 2

    2. Soul-Level Curiosity

    • Soul-Level Curiosity (4.7.22)

    • Soul-Level Curiosity (4.7.22)

    • Assignment

  • 3

    3. Challenging Values

    • Challenging Values (4.14.22)

    • Challenging Values (4.14.22)

    • Assignment

  • 4

    4. Listening For Hidden Doors

    • Listening for Hidden Doors (4.28.22)

    • Listening for Hidden Doors (4.28.22)

    • Assignment

  • 5

    5. Listening as a Shift in Consciousness

    • Listening as a Shift in Consciousness (5.5.22)

    • Listening as a Shift in Consciousness (5.5.22)

    • Assignment

  • 6

    6. Listening For Hidden Motives

    • Listening For Hidden Motives (5.12.22)

    • Listening For Hidden Motives (5.12.22)

    • Assignment

  • 7

    7. Cultivate Your Intuition

    • Cultivate Your Intuition (5.19.22)

    • Cultivate Your Intuition (5.19.22)

    • Assignment

  • 8

    8. Leading With Questions

    • Leading With Questions (5.26.22)

    • Leading With Questions (5.26.22)

    • Assignment

  • 9

    9. Fishing, Inquiry, Permission and More

    • Fishing, Inquiry, Permission and More (6.2.22)

    • Fishing, Inquiry, Permission and More (6.2.22)

    • Assignment

  • 10

    10. Voracious Curiosity, the Unknown, and Hiring

    • Voracious Curiosity, the Unknown, and Hiring (6.9.22)

    • Voracious Curiosity, the Unknown, and Hiring (6.9.22)

    • Assignment

    • The Art of Asking Questions (Document)

  • 11

    11. The Spirituality of Listening and Asking Questions

    • The Spirituality of Listening and Asking Questions (6.16.22)

    • The Spirituality of Listening and Asking Questions (6.16.22)

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