A very long to-do list has got to be one of the biggest curiosity killers of all time. The very idea of it–you live and act to check off one thing after another without thinking (most of the time). Ah, well.
I forgot yesterday to schedule a post for today. That’s because I was wrapped up in trying to create a team-building activity to someone else’s specifications. I mention this because, although it didn’t involve curiosity, it did involve creativity, which in this case meant living like a river. I planted the seed of an idea last night and waited to see what would sprout. Lo, and behold, at 5 o’clock this morning I had an idea. There’s something to this living like a river thing.
I had a really good week but now have to work over the weekend on things for other people. I’m not feeling very curious, just put out that after two weeks of long days and good results I can’t stop and enjoy life. Ah, well.
One thing I’m realizing this week is how often I actually do practice interpersonal curiosity and openness in the classroom. That is a really nice realization for me. I seem to go into a special mode where I wait to see what the person means and ask really good questions to find out more (even if they aren’t classic Inquiry questions). For the time being, I’m satisfied with that, even if I don’t transfer that openness to my life outside the classroom as often as I would wish.
One thing I like about teaching is that I almost always at some point have the chance to practice live Inquiry.
Today the topic was leadership–what the participants think of Nelson Mandela’s leadership and, above all, why. I did one of my favorite activities with them. I sketched out the Ladder of Inference in masking tape on the floor and had the participants ask each other Inquiry questions tailored to the rung the person was standing on. We always learn a lot about the topic at hand by exploring how others see it–what data they select, what meanings they add to that, what conclusions they draw, and what actions they think should be taken. For example, I learned from one participant how important it was to him that Mandela made small talk to connect with people first, before moving onto business.
The exercise was fun and interesting.
Clearly, I am going to be practicing a lot of this kind of curiosity this week. With only two participants–and two participants who do not want to work in a pair but rather want my input and attention all the time–there hardly seems to be another way. But they are pleasant and willing and experienced so at least what I’m listening to is teaching me something.
Listening with interest is also a form of curiosity, and it is one I practiced intensively today. I tend to forget that it should count as curiosity practice because I have been doing it most of my life.