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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

Curiosity and Blindspots

Curiosity is a double edge sword. On the upside, it allows you to continually learn, to evolve, and connect with others. The downside, it requires humility, a step out of the limelight, and opens the door to the possible need to admit you are wrong, uninformed, or may slow the process.

With those “downsides, " staying with what you know is tempting, but let me challenge that. Yes, it may be easier, but who does it serve? Only you- temporarily. Switching the focus to others, drawing out their experience and wisdom, and becoming comfortable admitting you don’t know or asking more questions is a liberating experience. It is this skill that shifts the “I” to “we”, you become a partner in discovery with others.

Years ago, I was in a class and was asked to draw a circle representing all of the world’s knowledge and information.

  • I then was asked to color in how much knowledge I had (very small sliver)

  • I then colored in how much I didn’t know (much bigger slice)

  • Finally, we thought about how much we didn’t know that we didn’t know. This is your BLIND SPOT! (the majority of the circle)

For example, have you heard of the “climate ball?” Researchers have found that there has been a spike in major league home runs tied to climate change which, in effect, warms and thins the air causing the ball to move farther.

This was a great visual reminder of how little I know and how much I can become aware of. If your goal in life is to keep that initial sliver small, you can continue as usual and stop reading this. If you recognize the enormity of knowledge and how some of that information could benefit you, why not double down on curiosity? It is not like anyone’s sliver of knowledge is much bigger than yours. In reality, we all know just about nothing!

Curiosity is the key that unlocks potential.

Curiosity allows for reflection, debate, and innovation it is this which will separate you and your team from the rest.

You do not need to prove your worth; you have already done that. Now is the time to draw out the greatness in others, create a culture of risk-takers, celebrate thinking and questions that go beyond the expected, and take you to uncharted waters.

As leaders, by default, we consciously or unconsciously possess a perceivable level of intimidation and superiority. It is from this perspective that humility comes into play. Recognize this dynamic and use it as an opportunity. An opportunity to speak last, ask for others’ perspectives, and welcome dialogue and healthy debate. It is from this place that others will rise and share their wisdom.

Can curiosity slow down the process, can it open a can of worms and de-rail the momentum? Yes, AND, it is those very things that may also lead to innovation, extraordinary realizations, and transformation. Allowing time for the process to unfold is the key to emerging greatness. That said, it is also reasonable to put guardrails on your "creative/ curious" time so as not to get off track.

My Challenge to You:

  • Commit to learning something new each day. Widen the sliver.

  • Before you render an opinion or advice, ask one more question.

  • Disaattach from being “right” and instead seek to understand and learn.

  • Did you know Brian Grazer, one of the most successful movie producers, attributes his success to “curiosity, (it) has quite literally been the key to my success, and also to my happiness…curiosity is what gives energy and insight into everything that I do... Curiosity infuses everything that I do with a sense of possibility.”

  • Read this great Forbes article on curiosity and leadership.

  • Finally, share this idea with your team. Invite them to infuse curiosity into the team discussions and listen to their brilliance!

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