Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

Curiosity Across Political Distance

I’ve been trying to channel Walt Whitman’s wisdom, “Be curious, not judgmental,” but I confess I’m not always successful.

And, drawing on an old aphorism I used in my previous career — that if one person is asking, five more are wondering, I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation with someone who is genuinely trying to be curious across current political divides, both ideological and geographic. photo - Snyder Studio Shot

Enter Stacy Snyder, Arlington potter and founder of Together Virginia, a PAC devoted to  fostering conversations between Virginians with a particular focus on rural voters. Their goal is to encourage trust and understanding.

Which seemed like a grand place to start a conversation about curiosity and listening well…

Listen to Choose to be Curious #29: Curiosity Across Political Distance. 

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Curiosity Journal, Life Lessons, Making a List, UnComfort Zone

Curiosity & the Fluid Career

surf2Yes, that’s me. On a surf board. In Hawaii. Admittedly, ten years ago. I thought it was a good image for a conversation about fluid careers and catching the curiosity wave…

I was delighted to be invited back by Dana Theus and Mary Brodie at InPower Women for another conversation about curiosity – this time in the context of the fluid career. When they invited me on the show, I think they expected to explore my own fluid career – which is a fine tale, but I offered something both personal and more universal. Let’s talk, I suggested, about “choosing to be curious about futures one might not yet have contemplated, about being intentionally open to the unknown, asking more questions about what emerges, and doing some rapid prototyping to see what might work, using that information to build and (re)shape that emerging future.” 

I hope you’ll listen to the whole show (30 minutes), but here’s some of what we covered and what has worked for me:

Following threads and finding fellow travelers. One of the biggest and happiest surprises for me has been the discovery of rich new networks and communities of people to whom I’ve become attached as I’ve chosen to be curious and entered into many entirely new realms of activity and interests.

0.8 Prototyping. Borrowing from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, I’ve learned to try new concepts out before they are fully cooked (even before they are at “1.0” stages of readiness [hence: “0.8”]), and letting things fail, be messy, listening to and learning from others — and then trying again, with all those lessons in mind.

My simple rules: Drawing on the work of Donald Sull & Kathleen Eisenhardt, I like to think about the simple, most foundational guidelines that govern how/what I do:

  1. Choose to be curious.
  2. Change my point of view to see something new.
  3. Ask myself “how might I….?”
  4. Go toward the fear. (Fear, broadly defined, as the things to which I feel resistant)
  5. Iterate, reflect, repeat.

Curiosity Walks: I made this thing up, the “curiosity walk” — a mix of mindfulness and scavenger hunt. It’s a way to be more intentional and attentive going about a place, whether as a tourist or in our workplace. What can I see or learn by being just a little more curious about wherever I am? What’s actually going on? How do I feel about it – specificallyHow might it be different?

Aldous Huxley: Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you. — This reminds me to stay fully present with whatever is going on. What I choose to do with what happens will shape the lessons I learn, the patterns I discern, the habits I form, the possibilities I believe open before me.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Isn’t there something that interests you, even just a little?  A reminder that we needn’t be “passionate” about everything we pursue and that, sometimes, the best discoveries come from following a loose thread that interests us just a little, just enough that we choose to be curious…and see where it takes us.

Listen to InPower Women Coffee Break: Curiosity and the Fluid Career

Choose to be Curious, Curiosity Journal

Curiosity to Go, a debut

Going into Year two of this Choose to be Curious adventure, I’ve been wondering where the stretches will come — which way I’ll decide to push myself and the show — and where those efforts will take me.

Opportunity knocked.

The morning show hosts at WERA asked me to put together “shorts” for their use during the drive-time program. Ever the station enthusiasts, they see it as an opportunity to highlight programming, but they concede they actually like Choose to be Curious, love that it’s gotten them thinking, and they’d like to share that with their audience. Who am I to stand in their way?

So this is my first effort with previews and highlights, all in under five minutes. Turns out this format is an entirely different beast. Listening to it on the air, I heard all the room for improvement, had second thoughts about construction, saw where else I might have gone with it. And there’s the beauty: it’s another chance to learn, to stretch, to test.

I think what I like best about this format is the chance to link very different shows in new ways. In an interview for InPower Women’s “Coffee Break” series earlier this week (more on that later), I shared my “reiterate, reflect, repeat” mantra. These “Curiosity to Go” segments are just that – an opportunity for reiteration and reflection, coming to me from entirely unforeseen source.

Just me, listening to the universe again…

Listen to “Curiosity to Go – Ep. 1 – 2017.05.17”

 

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity and Writing Fiction

One of the many things I love about doing the radio show Choose to be Curious is the many and remarkable new people it brings into my life. But sometimes I return to familiar folks, and this was one of those special occasions. Such a pleasure to explore curiosity and the art of fiction with author and college friend, Laura McBride.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #28: Curiosity and Writing Fiction – with Laura McBride.

Laura’s new novel ‘Round Midnight, “equal parts intricate and graceful,” was released May 2. More on Laura and her work here.

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity & Trust

How lovely to mark the first anniversary of Choose to be Curious with a focus on something like trust!

From the very first conversation with teacher Micaela Pond to the most recent with Monique Brown on racism, trust kept coming up in our conversations about curiosity in work and life. So I asked Scott Nycum, whose take on curiosity and leadership has been so well-received, to come back and explore this tender topic with me.

And what a delight to have the excuse to revisit some favorite moments in shows with Kelly Falkner on scientists and curiosity, Tom King on curiosity, the CIA, and the Caped Crusader, fellow WERA producer Jesse Robinson on the curiosity of “yes-and” in improv, Evie Priestman’s curiosity battle cry in our look at gender identity, and Jenn Seiff’s calming “5-5-5”.

I am deeply grateful for all the people who have made Choose to be Curious possible – from my talented and endlessly patient teachers, trainers and mentors, to my gracious and wise guests, my loyal listeners, and all the things so worthy of our curiosity. Thank you for choosing to be curious with me!

Listen to Choose to be Curious #27: Curiosity & Trust – with Scott Nycum.