Redefining Adversity Through Questioning

When I began reading Warren Berger’s, A More Beautiful Question (2014), I found myself intrigued by the anecdotes scattered throughout the book. They highlight the success stories of some of the world’s most inquisitive individuals who later evolved into inspiring innovators, ranging from the origination of the popular sports drink, Gatorade, to Airbnb, a disruptor of the hospitality industry. However, regardless of the uniqueness of each story, they share a profound similarity: solutions come from asking the right questions.

Asking the right questions is something we, as problem-solvers, have control over. For example, we can opt to use the Why/What If/How process, as my fellow graduate school classmates and I demonstrated for our wicked problem project, which transitions from one line of questioning to the next until a solution is established. On the contrary, to form what Berger calls a beautiful question, “an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change” — one must perceive the circumstances they cannot change. One must perceive the defining moments of their past — the synchronistic events that have led up to present day. As Berger states, “It all starts with slowing down, stepping back, and trying to shift perspective in order to see your own life—and the problems, opportunities, and challenges worth tackling—more clearly.”

As an educator, I am constantly grappling with how I can inspire my students to invest in their learning and achieve the most positive experience in my classroom. Just as my wicked problem project taught me, I must not only teach, but more importantly lead by example. As such, my greatest source of inspiration has been unravelling the path that led me to where I am today and sharing my personal story with others in hope of motivating and educating.

Although I consider myself to be a reflective individual, I, like most, can get bogged down by day-to-day stressors. Therefore, to help crystalize and visualize my most pivotal event — donating 65 percent of my liver to my younger brother, Cameron — I created a custom My Maps with Google. To explore, click on the map below.

As highlighted in my map, upon preparing for transplant surgery, Cameron and I were faced with a decision. We could view our situation as the culmination of an unfortunate sequence of events and write it off as an experience of the past, or we could chose to seize it as an opportunity to bring about change in the future. As Berger notes, “When innovators look at the world around them, they’re often looking for what’s missing. But while questioning your own life, it’s also important to look, via ‘appreciative inquiry,’ not just for what’s missing, but also for what’s there.” Cameron and I sought the positive in the hand we were dealt.

My Most Beautiful Question

Throughout this process, my most beautiful question has become clear: How can I spend my life inspiring others? The future depends on curiosity and passion, and I hold myself accountable for helping equip my students with such characteristics. My goal is to make my students “winners” as described by Thomas L. Friedman, who stated, “The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime” (2013).

My story is proof that, sometimes, what may seem like the ugliest circumstance may actually lead to one’s most beautiful question.

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as much as I.Q. Retrieved from

Wicked Problem Solution: Rethinking the Role of Educators

At the commencement of CEP 812: Applying Educational Technology to Issues of Practice — my third graduate course in matriculating through the Master’s in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University — I was offered the opportunity to explore what characterizes a problem of practice and to what extent it can be solved. While one may use logic, critical thinking and creativity to solve well-structured problems and complex problems, the same cannot be said for wicked problems. As John C. Camillus states, "A wicked problem has innumerable causes, is tough to describe, and doesn’t have a right answer” (2008).

Although a wicked problem is seemingly impossible to solve, my classmates and I took on the arduous task of researching and proposing a solution to Rethinking the Role of Educators. As linked to below, we constructed a multimodal presentation that encompasses a narrative of our journey, beginning with an explanation of wicked problems and ending with a proposed solution. Our proposed solution encapsulates refining and enhancing professional development practices for educators.

The Why/What If/How problem-solving process we conducted was adopted from Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question (2014). The process stems from curiosity, as we brainstormed a multitude of Why questions, progresses into the What If stage where one begins to imagine a solution and concludes with developing plans on How the solution can be implemented. Of note, our presentation includes excerpts from infographics that we designed, peer-reviewed research, and data collected from a survey that we created and conducted, which assisted us in forming a solution.

To access the presentation, please click on the image below. Additionally, please feel free to comment with any questions, concerns or feedback you may have. Thank you in advance for exploring our proposed solution.

Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

Camillus, J. C. (2008). Strategy as a wicked problem. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from