I heard this author, James E. Ryan, interviewed on a podcast, and I thought, I need that book. The book, which started as a graduation speech, celebrates the art of asking--and answering--good questions. He proposes five questions in particular that he promises will bring clarity, curiosity, courage, compassion, and conviction. (see the 5 questions below)
What's so refreshing about the book is that although the author is Dean of Harvard's Graduation School of Education, the writing is fresh and funny, and the anecdotes are mostly personal and revealing. No Ivy League-Harvard somber and serious here.
I had occasion to put one of his questions to immediate use. My stepson was going through a bad patch, and I kept calling and asking him how he was. But it began to feel more like I was grilling him, nagging him to get out of bed, and go do something, anything. I decided instead to try Question 4: "How can I help?" which Ryan says is at the base of all good relationships.
Yesterday I called my stepson, and I listened to him say once again that he was resting (depressed), and I asked, "How can I help?" I told him I loved him, and I truly wanted to help. That question changed the tone and tenor of our conversation, and he told me I'd already been helping.
This 138-page book also falls into the newly popular category of a short, easy read. It could be read in one sitting, straight through, or as a meditation question-by-question, which is more how I read it.