A quick story:
A child was playing outside on a sunny day and ran exuberantly up to his teacher.
“Why is the sky blue?” he asked.
“You’re too young to understand, so we’ll just say it always has been.” she relented.
“Hmm, okay!” said the child. The bell rang, promptly and everyone went in and on with their school day.
Later that evening, the child went home to his parents, one a psychologist and the other a physician and asked the same question to each.
“Well, when we are little, we are taught what the color blue looks like, and so when we see that color in the sky we form a cognitive/associative connection to that description and therefore interpret it as blue based on our past experience.” said the psychologist.
“Uh, I don’t get that, but okay!” said the child.
“When light enters our eyes, it stimulates special structures designed to interpret the various frequencies of light and provide that information to our brains,” said the physician, “and then our brains tell us the color is blue.”
“Um, I really don’t get that, but okay!” said the child.
Finally, as modern kids do, the child looked up a science video on the matter and received a very detailed description on the filtering of light frequencies by the unique chemical makeup of the atmosphere which causes people with normal vision to experience the sky as blue.
“I don’t think I get any of that.”
The next day, the boy went back to school and his teacher pulled him off to the side at recess.
“I think I didn’t answer your question about the sky very well yesterday. I should have asked a question first. So, why do you want to know why the sky is blue?” she asked, now more patiently.
“Because hanging from the monkey bars, the grass was on top and my favorite color is green, and I wish that’s what the sky was, too.”
Oftentimes, we choose to respond to what we hear with our own flavor of an answer and based upon our willingness, or ability to take the time to answer, or our own knowledge set and history. And today, there is no shortage of inputs. Every question (or statement, or position) has a question behind it, and even though every answer may be correct at one level, it may be immaterial one level lower. Sometimes the answer relies on the antithesis to the question. In this case, an equally fair question might have been “why isn’t the sky green?”
In our lives – be it a political position, or a business problem, or a relationship – we prefer to see things through our own highly customized lens. Take the time to question the question, think about how someone else might answer, what might motivate the possible answers. Look for the simple and contemplate the complex. Hang upside down from the monkey bars – and look at things from a different perspective than your own.