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A 100 Questions: An Exercise in Self-Reflection

by mikeandweegee

“What is the creative life?”
“How does one learn self–reflection?”
“What is my definition of success?”

There are just three of the questions I jotted down as part of an exercise called 100 Questions. The writing project to inspire self-discovery comes from Michael Gelb, author of “Discover Your Genius – How to Think Like History’s 10 Most Revolutionary Minds” and “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.”

I believe one of my shortcomings is my inability, perhaps avoidance, of reflection. I tend to barrel through life, looking forward to the next meeting, project, move, relationship and never really take the time to consider the events that got me here. I don’t evaluate my position or take time to just consider what occurred, where I want to go and the positive steps that will get moving in the right direction.

Well, until recently.

I wouldn’t call it a resolution but more of a life habit change. I take a personal time out, five to ten minutes every day, to mull over events and think about what is going on with me. I begin each morning by writing at least two notebook pages of my stream of consciousness. While I haven’t nailed the whole self-reflection process, nor come up with anything earth-shattering during my mental mulling time, I do feel a bit more balanced in the every day routines.

Which is probably why the 100 Questions exercise from “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” appealed to me. It was a simple way to focus my thoughts, explore the various thoughts or issues I have been putting on the back burner.

The stream of consciousness exercise is simple in form.

  • Make a list of 100 questions that are important to you.   It can include any question, as long as it’s something you deem significant.
  • Do it all in one sitting. Write quickly and don’t get hung up on spelling.

According to Gelb, the first 20 or so will be off the top of your head. In the next 30-40, themes usually begin to emerge. When generating the last 30-40 questions, you may discover unexpected and profound material.

At the end, look over your list and identify the emerging themes, or questions that were repeated or phrased differently.  Take the top ten and write them on a separate list, using that to inspire your future self-reflection lists.

What I found when I did this exercise was how much my questions centered around tapping into my creative self and finding intentional time to write (not just when I have nothing better to do).  But it also revealed an interesting question — why don’t I write about creativity? It’s what I like to read. What I like to blog about . . .

Perhaps that is a question for future self-reflection.


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