In these Posts, I offer ways to manage our Well-Being; how we can thrive in Relationships; be Happy. Let’s engage together on this journey.
In this Post, I continue to discuss the 5 factors to assist us in Observing how we are performing in our Relationships, being Awareness, Responsibility, Request, Respect and Curiosity.
In Part 2, I introduced our ARRRC allowing us to language our actions in Relationship, test those actions and then modify them accordingly.
I will now discuss Curiosity and Awareness.
Curiosity is the bedrock of our Well-Being.
It informs our learning, our Awareness, our empathy(1).
My journey with Curiosity started within the walls(2) of my all male, almost all white and Protestant boarding school on the outskirts of Sydney. Here I became enthralled by Socrates, his questioning underpinned by his oft-quoted
ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστον βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (the unexamined life is not worth living)
that I translated in a lunchtime Greek class under a large tree.
This questioning was enlivened by reading the great authors, playwrights and poets. And in real time, I read all I could about what was happening outside my walls, the 1960s challenges to the constructs around war, gender, race, feminism, culture and sexuality.
Oh, the power of stories. Something was stirring within this uptight nerdy teenager. This stirring was ignited when one of my many why not? decisions took me to the United States several years later, embarking on an experiential journey of Curiosity that has been fundamental to my Well-Being. I will discuss this personal journey in a later Post. For now, I will observe the importance of being Curious.
The importance of being Curious
It is important to be Curious
- about ourselves. I will talk more about this in later Posts, especially in the context of creating space for us to do this.
- about our intuition or gut feelings. Each of us has stored within us a warehouse of experiences and learning, usually out of our Awareness but which provide a rich source of our thinking. When we do become Aware of these in our family and work lives, all too often we are tempted to dismiss anything that runs counter to what we and others may see as “reason” or “logic”. When these random thoughts arise I find it useful to take time out, be Curious and play with them, for they enrich my thinking and actions. I will talk more about this in a later Post when referring to the Why not? decisions that have shaped my Well-Being, my life.
- about others. This not only enhances our understanding of others but also of ourselves(4). What a great excuse to travel. We just tell ourselves it is to dispel the mists of fable and clear the mind of prejudice taught from babyhood, and facilitate perfectness of seeing eye to eye(5), feeding our Awareness and Respect for others. Being Curious about another also leads to finding out points of common interest, enhancing the intimacy of the Relationship. This aspect cannot be underestimated in our Careers. For a fun representation of this see All that We Share at https://youtu.be/jD8tjhVO1Tc
- about everyday stories, from history, books, plays and art, reminding us of words attributed to Goethe, he who cannot draw on 3000 years is living from hand to mouth(5). How much more enjoyable and thought-provoking to apply stories handed down through the centuries to our own Leadership and Parenting, rather than sit in endless costly seminars hearing about methods devised by experts in another context and time than where our Leadership and Parenting is occurring (6).
- in our everyday roles, such as the ones I am focussing on in these Posts, being a Partner, Parent and Leader. I remember an early mentor describing the three roles of a director, ask questions, ask questions and ask questions.
We all inherently know this. However, we get trapped, feeling too overwhelmed to take time
- to walk, solvitur ambulando (“it is solved by walking”)(7)
- to read,
- to have a mobile-phone-free chat with our partner, children and team members, or
- to pause before we offer our thoughts and ask the other’s thoughts on a matter.
Let’s wear this ARRRC in multicolours on our shoulders.
AND LET’S JUST SIT WITH OUR CURIOSITY
Let’s enjoy being Curious, our only “goal” to be in learning, to be in becoming. Forget our formal education or Careers, be in the moment. To dream on Einstein, yes, Curiosity has its own reason for existing; however, we do not have to know the reason, just be Curious and see what happens. Enjoy our becoming for
life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed….I find I am at my best when I can let the flow of my experience carry me, in a direction which appears to be forward, towards goals of which I am but dimly aware. In thus floating with the complex stream of my experience, and in trying to understand its ever-changing complexity, it should be evident that there are no fixed points. When I am thus able to be in process, it is clear that there can be no closed system of beliefs, no unchanging set of principles which I hold. Life is guided by a changing understanding of and interpretation of my experience. It is always in a process of becoming (8).
Shylock’s words in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, first heard aged 14 still resonate with me:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food … If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?
As I looked around my all white, male classroom, my thoughts drifted to all those “others” that I had not come across in my social milieu, learning only from the opinions of my elders, all too often fed by the language of stereotypes. So different from my recent experience of being in the minority at our grandchild’s first birthday party in Sydney.
As I write this my thoughts drift to how, after so many years talking about inclusion, our Awareness (and Respect) of others as legitimate beings is still wanting. Take the current same-sex marriage debate in Australia. As a Parent and Leader, I would want my children and my team to feel legitimate in their identity. It was heart-warming to chat to same-sex parents enjoying playing with their two children at our grandchild’s party, though heart-wrenching for them not to be acknowledged as a married couple in Australia, and having to explain that to their children. Where is our Curiosity, Awareness and Respect? What is the ricochet effect of this?
Wearing Awareness on our shoulders summons us
- to better understand ourselves(9),
- be aware of how we may affect others, especially through our own moods and emotions, which I will discuss in Part 7, and
- closely aligned with empathy(10), to understand others and relish the benefits of diversity.
Let’s Ground this to Everyday Conversations
Let’s bring this Curiosity and Awareness to our everyday conversations with our partner, children and team members and ask 3 simple questions,
- am I entering this conversation with an open mind?
- am I being Curious rather than being too quick to espouse my knowledge and come across as the expert?
- when I do offer my “knowledge”, is it as one of several possibilities?
If you like visuals, see The Conscious Leadership Group’s Are You Choosing Curiosity Over Being Right? at https://youtu.be/VtEmR2tBFgM
What else is going on here? How we listen.
UNDERLYING QUESTION: How do you see yourself as a listener? Are you into reloading(11)?
In my next 2 Posts, I will offer thoughts on the other elements of ARRRC:
- In Part 4, Responsibility and Respect.
- In Part 5, Request.
I look forward to our next engagement. Until then, take care of yourself, your loved ones and your work teams.
Have a question?
ARC Coaching, Mentoring & Facilitation is all about generative questions. Let’s travel together to create possibilities. See www.arccoaching.com.au
Contact Bill Ash at email@example.com
- Daniel Goleman, the “guru” of Emotional Intelligence, in his book Focus refers to “self-awareness” and “empathy” as “fundamentals of emotional intelligence”, at p. 3.
- In his poem Walls the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy expresses the danger of being oblivious to our Walls:
With no consideration, no pity, no shame,
they have built walls around me, thick and high.
And now I sit here feeling hopeless.
I can’t think of anything else: this fate gnaws my mind—
because I had so much to do outside.
When they were building the walls, how could I not have noticed!
But I never heard the builders, not a sound.
Imperceptibly they have closed me off from the outside world.
- Source of image: http://quotesgram.com/img/einstein-quotes-on-questions/9854557/
- See Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Other, at p 19 and his observation at page 45 that that he did not understand he was white until he lived in Africa. So it was with me living and travelling among diverse racial groups in the United States, South America and Hong Kong after I left Sydney University.
- The original creed of Thomas Cook quoted in Roman Krznaric’s The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live, Profile Books, 2011, at p. 176. In this book, Krznaric takes us through everyday stories from history, each informing how we may live our lives today. Topics include family, work, travel and creativity.
- See the Norwegian Professor of Social Psychiatry Tom Andersen’s caution that the problems with methods are that they are preplanned in another context and at another point in time than where the practice happens; in his article Human Participating: Human “Being” is the Step for Human “Becoming” in the Next Step included in Collaborative Therapy: Relationships and Conversations that make a Difference, Anderson, H., & Gehart, D. (Eds) (2007), Routledge. Quote is at p. 82.
- See Arianna Huffington’s Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson and the Virtues of a Good Long Walk, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/hemingway-thoreau-jeffers_b_3837002.html
- One of my favourite quotes from Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person, Constable, 2004, p. 27
- See footnote 4.
- See footnote 1.
- See Are You Listening Or Just Reloading? at http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/650627