And at the moment I seem to practicing curiosity in the unspectacular but practical way of trying to find variations on our standard dogwalks so that my dog doesn’t get bored.
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 all the time–there seems hardly to be another way. But they are pleasant and willing and experienced so at least what I’m listening to is teaching me something.
Well, I didn’t practice much curiosity today (Sunday), but I should have some big opportunites to practice tomorrow. I’m teaching a one-week workshop with two participants. (Don’t ask.) Curiosity may be one of my best tools, I’m thinking. Will keep you posted.
Today I did, for the most part, manage to be curious about and respond to my participants’ challenges. For the most part.
I don’t know what happened when I went out this afternoon with my dog–partly, I think, there just wasn’t that much going on in the park and on the street–but I relaxed and walked along with open eyes and an open mind. And, lo and behold, that state of mind (close to what I am calling curiosity):
- Reduced my stress
- Set me up to be more responsive and therefore more effective
- Helped me build better connections to the people I passed
- Contributed to my enjoyment of life
Just as I hypothesized so long ago. Hallelujah! 🙂