And the Big Question is….

Back in March 2020, as the world plunged into Covid craziness, I wrote Now Is The Time To Lead. Here we are in July 2020, and now is still the time to lead. The world is ripe for positive change, and the opportunity to reshape it is right in front of us all. As my friend Jennifer Garvey Berger says, “The seeds of the future are now.

In my post, I suggested that one of the best ways to lead into positive change was to create hope and possibility. To think beyond the bad stuff that’s happening right in front of us, and to double down on defining and creating a future that we collectively want.

How are you going with that?

I reckon one of the best ways to create hope and possibility is to craft a question worth answering. A question that activates our creativity, focuses our efforts, and stimulates momentum towards a better future.

A Big Question.

What’s a Big Question?

A Big Question:

  1. Creates a massive possibility to live into
  2. Reflects something you deeply care about
  3. Pulls you forward and forces you to grow
  4. Provides a focal point, an anchor, amidst the chaos
  5. Helps you to create more change than you ever imagined possible.

Here are some examples of some global change-makers’ Big Questions:

What if we could create a ​world where anyone can belong anywhere? (AirBnB’s Brian Chesky)

How can we use our business to save our home planet? (Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard)

What if we could be as productive (or more) in 4 days as we are in 5? (Perpetual Guardian’s / 4 Day Week’s Andrew Barnes)

Here’s a couple more closer to home:

How can we make New Zealand the leadership capital of the world? (Alicia McKay and I chat about this on our What’s On Your Mind podcast)

Here’s my current Big Question: How can I best contribute to growing a world of authentic change-makers?

Now Questions

Without a clear Big Question, you run the risk of being swamped in what I call Now Questions. Now Questions are the ones that ask for a more immediate response. They’re tactical. They’re questions like:

  • How can we get this project done on time?
  • How do I deal with this drama at work?
  • How can I get more quality sleep?
  • What’s Trump up to now?

Now Questions are everywhere. They’ll never go away. Some are important, and you need to answer them to help you clear the path. It’s just that if we’re not thinking beyond the Now Questions, we’ll never create a sense of movement towards something really worthwhile.


Your Big Question should be a TISA:

Thrilling: ​It should be both scary and exciting to contemplate. It’s compelling and spooky, like a good thriller.

Intractable: ​It’s potentially paradoxical or seemingly unsolvable in nature.

Stretchy: ​It will require you and your people to grow, personally and professionally, to meet its challenge.

Ambiguous: You aren’t exactly sure how you’re going to answer the call of the question.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that leaders, teams and organisations that craft a compelling big question are better able to harness the energy and intent of people. They create a movement around a future worth creating. That’s why we make defining your Big Question a core part of the Change Makers curriculum.

A Big Question is something on the horizon to aim for. It might not be achieved in your lifetime, but it’s worth aiming for.

So, what might be your Big Question?

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