The magic question

Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of Acumen, teaches us that if we truly want to make the world a better place, we have to listen to the unheard voices. If you haven’t read her Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, I highly recommend it.

Often, those who have remained unheard for a long time have learned to remain silent. To get them to speak up, you have to ask the right questions.

Zoe Chance, a Yale professor, offers such a good question – which she calls “the magic question”:

“What would it take to [fill in the blank]?”

If you have 7 minutes, listen to her recent interview on NPR, and pay attention to how this magic question revealed a simple solution to child trafficking in a small Zambian village (start listening at 4:15 if you are short on time).

This magic question conveys humility, respect, and vulnerability. It takes privilege and saviorism off the table.

Are you trying to help another person, or an entire group, either at work or at home? Do they feel heard?

Have you asked them what it might take?

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