In 1965, a guy named Dewayne Douglas, he was the football coach at the University of Florida, he watched his players run around in sweat and drink gallons of water for hours in the hot Florida sunshine and he squinted up into the sun one day and he wondered out loud to himself, why aren’t the players going to the bathroom more often during practice?
And then he asked that question of a kidney researcher at the university who then went on to develop a drink to replenish electrolytes and aid hydration. The result became Gatorade, of course named after the Florida Gators.
Let me give you another example. 1943, while on vacation in New Mexico, a guy named Edwin Land, he took his family portrait with his camera and then his daughter asked him immediately, “Oh daddy, you took the picture. “Can I see it?” Which led Land to ask himself a question, what if you could somehow put a dark room inside a camera? And the answer to that question became the Polaroid camera.
In both of these examples, the innovator was asking a more powerful why or what if kind of question. Instead of the less powerful kinds of questions like which one or who or simple yes/no questions. When we learn to ask more powerful questions, we get more powerful insights. Einstein, he once said that much of his breakthrough thinking in relativity came from wondering to himself, what would the universe look like if I were riding on the end of a light beam at the speed of light? Well, that might sound like a crazy question, but it’s also the kind of crazy question that created breakthrough thinking.