Just as a computer glitch can scramble data, the experience of being human in today’s world can affect your curiosity, distorting it from its original purpose.
For example, many children learn to be more curious about how to please the adults in their lives than about how to express themselves fully. The schools I attended as a child taught me to be really curious about how to ensure I had the Right Answer when the teacher called on me.
As I recall, during high school years, I became quite curious about how to get a certain boy to like me. Later, in the corporate world, my curiosity still slanted toward gaining approval, at this point from higher ups in the food chain.
Curiosity about who I am and what my gifts are….this curiosity was not allowed to surface and flourish until I was well into adulthood.
Based on what I have observed in my clients over the past 25 years, I am SO not the only one.
Why this is a critical conversation: Unless your curiosity goes beyond survival and comfort, beyond reassurance and the remediation of pain, you are at risk of getting caught in chasing results – not, I might note, a strategically sound or sustainable approach to success.
Your curiosity and resulting inquiry will be limited. You will put outcomes ahead of people (also known as objectifying people). Never mind all the missed opportunities for you and those you lead to learn from the path to those outcomes. The journey becomes merely a means to an end, and desired change? Much less likely to occur or last.
You want your contribution to add lasting value, don’t you? Then be more curious about what’s alive and true for the people involved than about the shortest line from a to z. Be more curious about how you and your team think, process and learn, how each of you perceives and feels, than about the fastest way to achievement.
Be really, really curious about what stirs inside you in response to thoughts and emotions, yours as well as those of the people you lead and develop. Then be curious about how to meet whatever that is inside you with open heart and eyes so you can learn from it and apply that wisdom in your work. This is some of the most powerful, transformative and inspiring leadership anyone can offer.
Notice if your curiosity has you wonder, How do I get the other person to do xxx or yyy, or How do I convince him/her to do xxx differently, faster, more efficiently….? If these are the only questions you are asking (how to get more out of people or what is the fastest way from a to z), then your curiosity is limited to chasing an outcome. While logical and potentially useful questions, if they are the only or primary questions, this can indicate your curiosity has, in fact, been corrupted and needs to be debugged. Or at the very least, opened to a wider channel that goes beyond fixing, resolving, ending pain, gaining approval and reassuring you that your work (and by extension, you) has validity.
Oh, and did I mention:
Fully functioning curiosity will unlock lives and worlds.
The more you embody wide open, uncorrupted curiosity, the more likely those you lead will, too.
And that’s what I call a powerful outcome.
In celebration of your questioning heart!
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