I Wonder Why I Wonder Why
Let me ask you something.
When was the last time you enjoyed not knowing something?
In this age of instant access to information, it's very easy to lose our sense of wonder and curiosity. When I hang out with my grandchildren, I'm reminded how much wonder brings us joy.
"I wonder if fish sleep."
"If dogs dream, what do they dream about?"
"How come the shells on the beach are empty?"
And, of course, the classic, "Where do babies come from?"
The more we learn, and mature, the less questions we seem to have. Assumptions, conclusions, expectations, they all become part of our daily lives.
So, since we've spent many, many years learning how to think in a way that provides us the most information (or assumptions, let's be honest), we have to re-learn how to think with curiosity.
You have to start with understanding, and owning, the fact you have assumptions that are incorrect. How comfortable are you with your opinions and assumptions being challenged? Why or why not?
It all comes down to ego.
You don't have to be right to be a leader. You have to know how to think to be a leader. There is more freedom in ownership, right or wrong, than there is control in always trying to make sure you're right.
Ego lies, and tells you that you must be right, and if you are wrong, to blame and shift responsibility. But that's the exact opposite of what your people need.
Studies have found that leaders who openly admit they were wrong and take responsibility, are actually more respected than those who deflect the mistake.
Curiousity, developing and maintaining a sense of wonder, keeps us from the dangerous boggy ground of blame. Instead of asking who, the question becomes why? What? How?
Instead of, "What were you thinking?!" try, "How did you come to that decision?"
Instead of "Who screwed this up?" try, "Where did this process break down?"
One of the things I am seeing empower my grandchildren in their learning process more than any other is a very simple question. "Where do you get lost?"
In five words, they become empowered to share what they know, and ask for guidance at the exact point they trip up. They own their progress, own their learning, and then, because they did those first two steps, get to entirely own their victory in conquering the problem.
You do not have to have all the answers - you just need to know who to ask or where to start looking.
What was the last question you really dug into? Something your kids asked you? A problem at work?
When was the last time you had to stretch to find an answer?
Something magical happens when we learn something new - we build new neural pathways. Every time we experience something new, learn something new, the brain has to build a connection - or multiple connections - in order to process that information.
Here's a perfect example. A client recently shared with me her mother, who went on to become a teacher for more than 30 years, had a hard time as a child understanding the word, "selfish."
She knew what a fish was.
She knew what a saddle was.
So, her brain processed this new word with a new connection - and the saddlefish was born. Instead of, "don't be selfish," the phrase that went on to become a part of their unique family culture became, "Don't be such a saddlefish."
I'd encourage you to try something this year. Make it a daily intention to seek out and learn something new. Keep a record of what you discover.
I wonder - *wink wink* - what you'll find out!