“Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.”

Most powerful three letter word

If I ASK you what’s the most impactful and powerful three letter word is in English language?

Your answer could be Why, War, Run or for someone it might be Dog. But over the years I have observed that the most powerful three letter word or I could even take a step further and rephrase the question.

I ASK you what the most important word is in English language. No matter if it comprises of three letters or more.

The answer to that question is within the question itself.

It’s ASK.

All human progress is a result of someone ASKING a question? For instance, Newton asked himself while sitting under the shade of an Apple tree, why this apple fell to the ground, it could have gone up? Or most recently Elon Musk asked Why can’t we have driverless cars? Is it possible to have a more efficient mass transit system? Can we make space travel possible for everyone?

All scientific research is done in order to look for answers to some Question. Many great books were written when someone ASKED a right question.

This article would be incomplete without mentioning the famous proverb, “He who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever”. Even India’s first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi once said, “The power to question is the basis of all human progress”.

Anatomy of ASK

As per merriam-webster dictionary, the word ASK is a noun and a verb both.

It’s a verb when we use it to raise a question, seek information, or make a request. So the question is does it carry the same importance when used for situations other than questioning?
The answer is YES, it is equal or infact more importance when being used as request.

Steve Jobs ASKED

It is very famous story which Steve narrated himself in an interview.

Steve was just 12 years old and he wanted was looking for some spare parts. It was then that he decided to search for a number in phone directory to call HP. He was able to talk to Mr. Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, and asked for the spare he was looking for to build a frequency counter. Steve managed to get the spare part from Hewlett, but on top of that Steve was also able to acquire an internship at HP factory for assembling frequency counters.


Here are excerpts from Steve’s interview demonstrating the incredible powers of simply ASKING:

"Now, I've actually always found something to be very true, 
which is most people don't get those experiences because they never ASK . 
I've never found anybody who didn't want to help me when I've asked them for help. 
I've never found anyone who's said no or hung up the phone when I called. 
I just asked. And when people ask me, I try to be as responsive, to pay that debt of gratitude back. 
Most people never pick up the phone and call, most people never ask. 
And that's what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. 
You gotta act. And you've gotta be willing to fail, you gotta be ready to crash and burn, 
with people on the phone, with starting a company, with whatever. 
If you're afraid of failing, you won't get very far."


This is just one very powerful example of how the ability to ask can make a big difference in someone’s life. There are thousands of other examples of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs that used the power of asking to make great leaps in their lives.


Great Books Written When Someone ASKED

Many books were written only because some people dared to ask real sound questions.


In my search for spiritual enlightenment, one of the great religious books written on Islamic sufism was Kashf al-Mahjub (Unveiling of the Veiled) was written by Al-Hujwiri popularly known as Data Gunj Bakhsh. This book was written when someone asked him few questions about ‘Tassawuf’ (Islamic mysticism). Similarly one of the great books ever written on the rights of Holy Prophet Muhammad is AL SHIFA (Healing) was written by Qazi Ayaz.


In the same way one of the greatest Self Help book “Think and Grow Rich” that was written by “Napoleon Hill” when Andrew Carnegie ASKED him to interview some of the leading business magnets and successful figures of that time like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Henry Ford etc. It was because of that ASK which resulted in the distilled wisdom of those great minds and was later published as a book. Till today this book is the default first choice of anyone looking for worldly success.


Don’t ever be shy of ASKING

Since childhood we are taught that the one who sleep’s, looses. I say, the one who doesn’t asks, looses.

It’s a dilemma that most people in our society feel embarrassed of asking someone for help or advice. They think it would prove them less worthy or less knowledgeable. This inferiority complex keeps them afar from acquiring wealth of key knowledge that is available to them. Most of us avoid doing things that hurt our ego, and ASKING is one of those actions in which we have to kill our ego, keep the shyness aside and gather the courage and confidence to pick up the phone and ask, to go to that boss and ask, to knock on that door and ask, to approach a senior or a junior and ask.



In one of my personal favorite self-help books, “THE ONE THING” author ‘Gary Keller’ has written a very good passage captioned “Life is a question”. That passage became my inspiration for writing this article.

Why so much focus on QUESTION whereas all the time what we do is look for the answers?

So focus on ASKING and never hold back. Just ASK.

‘Ask and you shall receive’