Tag Archives: Curiosity

Discuss or Defend?

Discussing involves active listening.  Curiosity.  Openness.  It requires genuine interest in ideas, even if they contradict your own.

Defending involves taking and holding a position.  Looking for openings to argue against another idea.  Preparing your response, while you should be listening.

Discussing takes time.  Discussing requires courtesy, respect, and patience.  Defending, not so much.

Most discussions we see on TV, or hear on the radio, aren’t discussions at all.  They’re exercises in defending.  Questions and answers are metered out in an attempt to defend one position or another.

It’s often the same in a business setting.

The search for alignment, a conclusion, a decision, or an all-out victory often trumps everything else, including a meaningful exchange of ideas.

How often do you defend, instead of discuss?  Be honest.  We’re just discussing here…no need to get all defensive.

What if you went through an entire day without defending?  Think you could do it?

 

We Are All Mountain Climbers

AlanAroras--Mt Everest 2013

There it is…Mount Everest from the air.  Each year, about 150-200  climbers attempt to reach its summit, 29,029 feet above sea level.  There are thousands of other mountain peaks in the world, but Everest is the highest, and most challenging.  Of course, from this angle it looks pretty tame.

That’s the thing about mountains.  Perspective is everything.  Until you face a climb yourself, you can never fully understand what it takes.  Watching others make the climb, or hearing their stories about what it was like, are no substitute for taking on the climb for yourself.

Look around you.  If you look closely, you’ll see that each of us are climbing a mountain.  Some mountains are short and easy, while others are as high or higher than our friend, Mr. Everest.

This is the point where I could wax on poetically about striving for the highest peaks in life, chasing ever higher summits, new vistas, and new challenges.  Yes, do all of that.  Don’t let anyone stop you…especially yourself.

No, I’m not going to talk about the standard, inspirational mountain stuff.  Instead, I’m going to talk about weight.

When embarking on a climb, is it better to carry twenty pounds, fifty pounds, or one-hundred pounds of gear on your back?  Obviously, all things being equal, less weight is better.  Gravity is not your friend.

How much weight are you carrying on your climb?  Only the essentials?  Anything extra?  Are you carrying baggage that won’t be used?  Why?  Carrying all that extra baggage isn’t helping you reach your summit.

What about your fellow climbers, especially those closest to you?  How much extra baggage are they carrying?  How much of it is yours?

The best strategy for extra baggage (and its unnecessary weight) is to avoid packing it in the first place.

 

 

Photo Credit:  Alan Arora, who owes me some details on how he was able to be in the cockpit jump seat of an Airbus A319 at the perfect time to capture such a beautiful shot of Mount Everest.

Wanna Learn Something? Think Like a Teacher!

You’re sitting in a training class.  The instructor is describing some new set of management concepts or the latest system enhancements.  You try to listen and stay focused.  Your mind wanders a bit.  You force it back in line.  After all, there may be something useful here that you can apply to your work.

Later, someone asks you how the class went.  You shrug your shoulders, reporting that you learned a couple of new things.  You then have trouble describing what you’ve learned.  Not an inspiring endorsement.

Imagine the same training class.  But, now you’re there to learn the material well enough to present the same class to another group next week.

You don’t get to pick and choose what applies to your work.  You need to learn the subject in its entirety.  Preparing to teach a subject requires active learning.  You’ll watch how the material is presented, the visual aids and examples the presenter uses, and the way the presenter moves around the room.  Nothing less than full mastery of the information will suffice.  Anything less could lead to failure when it’s your turn to teach.

Do yourself a favor.  Prepare like a teacher, learn like a teacher, and think like a teacher.  The truth is, you will be teaching this class next week…to yourself, as you try to remember and apply what you learned in the class.

Curiosity and Zombies

Are you genuinely interested in how something works, why things happen, what people think?

Do you look at articles describing how some industry you’re not a part of is facing a new market or regulatory challenge?

Are you entertained to learn that Starbucks Frappuccinos and iced coffees may be changing ice cube usage customs in Europe?

Do you click on links to articles about Africapitalism and venture philanthropy?

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to “fly” off a cliff wearing a Wingsuit?

Do you wonder how the education systems of the US can be improved by the proliferation of MOOC’s and alternative learning services like Udacity, Khan Academy, and others?

Do you marvel at how a rocket engine made mostly of solid rubber can power a spaceship launch?

Do you look at things as they are, and imagine how they could be changed by process improvements, new inventions, or new technology?

Are you an “early adopter” of new ideas?

The ultimate question is:  Are you curious?

The happiest and most successful people I know are curious.  They choose to be explorers in a modern world.  Pursuing answers to what, where, who, how, and (of course) why is what makes them tick.  Their curiosity is the key to an engaged existence.

They may not find, nor like, all of the answers.  That doesn’t stop their insatiable curiosity to learn more.

Show me someone lacking curiosity for life, and I’ll show you the closest thing to a living, breathing member of the walking dead.  Who knew curiosity would be better than shotguns against zombies?

Why?

One of the most powerful words in our vocabulary is:  Why?

In the hands of a toddler, it can become one of the most challenging.  I remember a number of conversations with my daughters when they were in that 2-5 year-old range.  They demanded the most thorough explanations of just about everything imaginable.  I know that my wife and I heard the word “Why” at least a hundred times a day.    

Why is it so powerful?  Why do toddlers use it so much?  Simple.  It opens our minds to new information.  It drives learning.  It fuels the fire of curiosity that burns within each of us.    

Are you using “Why?” as much today as you did when you were younger?  Is the fire of curiosity still burning for you? 

Why not?