Day 293 – How being curious about one thing can block you from being curious about another

This morning on our dogwalk I saw another dog person whom I hadn’t seen in ages. From across the park she started waving her arms at me. I waved back. Then she became more agitated and was clearly trying to communicate something more to me than a simple “Good morning!” I was–with great curiosity ;-)–trying to figure out what she was trying to say and was focused on her to the extent that I did not see the police officer hiding in the bushes, waiting apparently for dog walkers who did not have their dogs on the leash.

Luckily, I did figure out in time that what she was mouthing was “Police!” and I was able to get my dog onto the leash before there was a fine to pay. What I discovered this morning was that when you focus all your curiosity on one point, it is easy to overlook something else.

Day 291 – Setting up a laptop

It turns out that you can practice curiosity not only when buying a laptop but also when setting one up. When I got my last laptop, the one that is still my main laptop, I actually invested in getting a techie in to set it up properly for me. Because I am only planning to use this one in a limited way I didn’t want to spend the money this time and so have been working on the set-up myself. (Luckily, it’s kind of cloudy today, a good day to be indoors and working on something like this.)

This computer has Windows 10 on it and my other one has some earlier program (that tells you how much I know about technology, I think it’s Windows XP, but I wouldn’t want to bet any money on it), which means it has taken some trial and correction* to get the volume set up the way I want and a free program downloaded to show videos and a few other things configured. Tomorrow I’ll work on getting the free version of Office I believe I’m entitled to through one of the universities where I teach. For today I have done enough searching and testing and so on.

* “Trial and correction” is the phrase Timothy Gallwey of The Inner Game fame uses. He feels, and I agree, that it is more accurate than “trial and error”.

Day 290 – Shopping for a laptop

Yesterday I set off for the second time to look at new laptops. What’s wrong with the one I have? A while ago it got dropped. It still works as well as it ever did, but because it landed on a corner and the hinge got damaged I can no longer open and close with any ease or confidence. Clearly, this rather gets in the way of its usefulness as a laptop, especially for someone like me who carries it around a lot, mainly to show PowerPoint presentations.

The above story means that I had a very specific idea of what I wanted. I don’t need a good computer for home. I have that, even if it is five years old. I was looking for something as inexpensive as possible to carry around. Nonetheless, I let the salesman, who (as far as I could tell) was very knowledgeable and helpful explain a few different models to me. I went home with the least expensive model that fit my needs, but being open to what he was telling me means that I feel good about the choice I made. I felt I was informed.

Day  289 – Leaving the map at home

Today was a holiday in Austria, and my dog and I went on a relatively long hike (a bit over 12 kms). What was special today was that it is in a part of town we almost never go to, an hour away from home. I also only briefly consulted the map at home and then followed the trail markers, which certainly at the beginning of the trail only showed up when we had to change direction. It was a little like practicing River or existential curiosity. We walked along without trying to control every step of the way, only responding to signposts as they turned up. A little practice,  at least. 

Day 288 – Retroactive Inquiry

Looking back at my post from yesterday, I’d like to say that I really don’t see curiosity as being mutually exclusive to critical thinking skills, although my post (written in a hot and crowded room when I was in a bad mood) could be interpreted that way. After all, as Walter Kotschnig said, “Keep your minds open but not so open that your brains fall out.”

This morning, in a cooler, quieter place, it struck me that the idea that managers earn and deserve their tens of million in compensation could be a good point to practice Inquiry on. Some possible questions:

Data selection step

  • What cases are you thinking of?
  • What criteria for determining compensation are you using?
  • How do you see the job, skill set, contribution, etc., of top managers?
  • What are you comparing their responsibilities to?

Adding meanings step

  • What do you think happens when those amounts of compensation are not paid?
  • How do you see the connection between the skill set and so on and the amounts paid?

Drawing conclusions step

  • What do people get paid for? or Why do companies pay salaries?

Taking action step

  • How can we establish appropriate pay scales, in your opinion?
  • What systems can we set up to make that work?

 

With special thanks to Quote Investigator for the original source of that quotation: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/13/open-mind/  I thought erroneously that it was from Carl Sagan.

Day 287 – The role of education

In this case I’m thinking specifically of the role of my education on me. I’m attending a panel discussion on the topic of top managers’ compensation. This is a topic that has interested me for a long time and that I’ve read a lot about. But that’s not the education I’m thinking of at the moment. What I’ve been feeling as I listen especially to one of the panelists, who feels that these top managers earn and deserve the tens of millions they receive, is my training in critical thinking. I may be terrible at facts and figures, but I can recognize contradictions and holes in people’s logic at 50 paces. And, boom, there goes my openness. I start taking delight in arguing with the person in my head and stop listening. Hello, judging.