What Question Are You Trying To Answer?

All life is existing to answer a question even when such is not obvious. Some of us will choose the question to answer, some of us will stumble on it and some will never know or care to know.

Tell me what question?

A long time ago when I had zero clues about life and her nuances, I lived life as one who was trying to help another individual answer questions in their life. Simply, I don’t think for myself or contemplate.

I was told what to do and I did it. Little did I know that what I was told to do was trying to help another (my parent) answer the question of their own life – it’s not a bad thing as you would see.

But as I journeyed green planet earth, my path collided with the path of wisdom and I followed hard after it with little hesitation.

When we set out in life, as a growing child we have no idea about the nuances of life and the best we could do is to help our parents (most importantly) to answer the questions they are trying to answer: raising good children, intelligent child, godly one, and on. For parents, that is probably the most important question to them once we are given birth to and my mother was king of this. She spent her all and gave her all to see these questions answered.

It’s a loop and soon it will be your turn. Note though that parents have other questions to answer beyond their children’s well being, yes, they do.

As time matures and we begin to see the justices and injustices that inundate our community we begin to shape from the inside and subconsciously, we begin to develop the capacity to contemplate nuances. I like the way Solomon makes case for this nuances and the way he spelt it out in Ecclesiastes 8.14 stood out:

“Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke.”


As this capacity develop from the inside we begin to ask ourselves questions. Questions not erstwhile considered. This questioning period is where we tend to find ourselves and shape for ourselves “the question we are trying to answer”.

What I’ve learned though is that the way we discover this question is not a given. Some of us stumble on it, some deliberately work into it and others don’t even know it at all till death.

But things add up. All life in the end still answers a unique question: a profound reality.

Moses & Pharaoh, Jesus & Judas, Mohammad, Martin Luther King,… All life answers a question including the life of Olu that you may never know.

What question are you trying to answer?

Many months ago, a variation of this question struck me and in an attempt to answer it, I came up with a line which I’ve shared once with friends at work…

I answered and said “I’ve defined a creed for my life and that is to be the definition of what is possible when one is given to the pursuit of knowledge”. That is the question I was trying to answer “what is the limit of knowledge in the life of someone given to it” and in this case, I am the experiment.

That question, I stumbled on. I said it before some of us stumble on it and thereafter appropriate it.

Ever since it became apparent to me what kind of question I wanted to answer, I have been optimizing religiously and obsessively for it.

But that is not the end. You will agree with me that it is not possible that one will only have one question to answer. We have a number of it to answer and circumstances dictates that. However, you must know the variations of question you are trying to answer and optimize for religiously and obsessively.

Variations of Question

At a point in time your you might be trying to answer the question “what can I graduate college with if I devote myself to studying?” At another, you are trying to answer some question about your business, career, family or all together at a time.

Also, at one point the variation of the question may be “if I give my best to this what could come out of it?” At another time it will be “what minimum amount of effort can I give to this to get that?”

By the nature of the swings and fluidity, you will agree with me that nothing is static, the question our life tries to answer changes with time and our value system. Your value system determines what you devote your time to and more often than not, the question you are trying to answer is what gets your time (at least expectedly).

Since that is the case, then you are allowed to change your question per time, in fact, it can be said that the evidence that you are growing is a the rate at which you change or add to the questions you are trying to answer. No scolding, embrace your life in all ramifications.

Why it matters that you know what questions you are trying to answer?

In Derek Sivers article No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no he made a point that “when deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”” But how would you know what to say Hell Yeah to consistently? A quick win is to ask yourself if it aligns with any of the questions you are trying to answer at that time. If it doesn’t, it should most likely get a “no” answer.

As Derek continued in his article, “when you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!” But the starting point is to know what you should even say “HELL YEAH” too. And that my friend is one of the compelling reasons to know what question exactly you are trying to answer.

Since I concluded within me that I needed to know the answer to the question below (tweet) while I serve as the experiment at the same time, I have set my priorities right and that my friend has tremendously helped me a lot. Now I say HELL YEAH to anything that will foster that and NO to anything that leaves that endeavour the same.

Another reason why it matters bothers on what I wrote on this thread:

Knowing the question you are trying to answer informs your optimization strategy. You set out daily optimizing the right things that matters to you not just anything that is available.

Post inspired by Efosa Ojomo’s tweet: