As you can tell from my posts, I’m really interested in kids and young people and how their minds develop. I watch for insights on that in things I read.

            Today’s post has to do with the development of a college-age young man, as related in Will Wise’s book, Ask Powerful Questions.

            Wise tells about teaching a college class on leadership training. One of the students, Brad, seemed always angry in class. Here is how Wise describes him:

            “In Brad’s mind, the world was ‘out to get him and his peers.’ When he spoke, his eyes would be revealed from under his hiding place—an immaculate baseball hat…his hands would turn into fists so tight that his knuckles turned white…he carried so much anger that it was difficult for him to learn…he was like a dangerous snake ready to strike.”

            Will Wise approached the class by gently encouraging the students to ask a lot of good, thoughtful questions. After some time, Wise describes a remarkable change that occurred. He said that once Brad “learned to ask questions of himself, his life began to turn around.”

            You can get a sense of Brad’s transformation from the following email that he sent after the class was over.

            Brad wrote: “Before taking this class and learning this material, I blamed the police, I blamed the school administration, I blamed the culture, but I forgot one thing—I forgot to blame myself.”

            Later, upon further reflection, Brad shared this post on social media: “It’s [easy] to pretend like we are victims in this life, putting off our happiness to the circumstances presented. Is that really how you feel, though? Do you really feel that helpless? If so, why? If so, what’s holding you from seeing all this magic? [We say] ‘It’s not my fault, it’s yours.’ [I say] swallow those words and smile. Take responsibility for your journey. Take pride in it. Look at you! You started as a seed…now you’re skipping around a flying spaceship through a galactic cosmos. Such a special opportunity to feel bliss in this short existence we call human. It’s open for you to see.”

            I was struck by this: When Brad “learned to ask himself questions, even to blame himself” this actually helped him gain a greater sense of adventure and wonder.

            Isn’t that interesting? There is such a tendency to complain about the way the world is, to talk about what others are doing wrong. But does that ever lead us to a sense adventure or anywhere good? 

            Brad is reminding us that facing ourselves honestly, being willing to question ourselves and even to change ourselves may not be the “threat” we sometimes think it is. It may actually be an invitation to adventure.