Captains Curious: The Practice of Curiousity

Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. The newest contributing member is Sandi Amorim! To learn about the other Captains Curious, please click here.

I’ve been asking questions my whole life

I’d have to confirm with my mother but I think I started talking in 1965 and it would be safe to say I started asking questions shortly thereafter.

I’ve been asking questions my whole life.

That’s what happens when curiousity is one of your core values, as it is for me.

I want to know how things work, what makes human beings tick and what really IS the meaning of life.

I want to know.

So I live my life inside the questions, both personally and professionally. My clients say I’m relentlessly curious, which triggered my curiousity about the word relentless.

No surprise really; this is how my life works.

I hear something => it triggers my curiousity => I ask questions.

Think back to your childhood and how naturally curious you were, how the questions arose effortlessly. You really didn’t have to think about them too much. If anything, it seemed there was an endless supply of questions, much to your parents chagrin.

Where did your curiousity go?

When did you stop asking questions of yourself and others?

What had you suppress the natural curiousity you were born with?

It’s drummed out of us, I know, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be cultivated. Like anything worthwhile, you can turn it into a practice.

Yes, I’m serious. Practice asking questions.

  • Notice which questions come easily to you.
  • Notice what kind of questions make you uncomfortable.

Socrates set us on this path by asking disciplined questions to pursue thought, explore ideas, open up issues and problems, and uncover assumptions.

Leonardo da Vinci called it curiosità: an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

You can practice!

When I first became a coach, I had a cheat-sheet of questions on my desk. Even though it came naturally for me, because I wanted to really hone my skill I used this sheet to help me remember what worked.

Here are a few sections of the sheet to help you get started:

Ask questions about the future:

  • What will it look like when you have achieved your goal?
  • What will you see, hear and feel when you’ve achieved your goal?

Ask reframing questions:

  • How would you view this problem if you were twenty years older? Or twenty years younger?
  • How would this situation look from another point of view?
  • If this situation were funny, what would you be laughing at?

Ask questions to debrief:

  • What worked or didn’t work about this situation?
  • What have you learned about yourself from this situation?
  • What learning did this situation provide?

People worry about asking the right question, but when you come from a place of curiousity, almost any question will work.

Why? Because questions reliably shift focus and energy.

“Great minds ask great questions. The questions that ‘engage our thought’ on a daily basis reflect our life purpose and influence the quality of our lives.” – Michael Gelb

I’ve learned that it’s not so much about asking the right questions but rather about asking them at the right time, and the only way to learn that is by practicing.

Instead of asking why a situation is the way it is, ask how you might contribute to the solution.

Instead of asking close-ended questions (yes/no) ask open-ended questions that create a space of possibility and move things forward.

You may not be relentless as I am, but you can certainly develop this skill.

Curious about how this might work?

Let’s experiment this week.

  • Begin each day by asking yourself a well formed question.
  • Use the examples above and let yourself be playful about it.

When you come from that place of curiousity, people tend to be much more open and willing to respond.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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Sandi Amorim is a fiery coach and instigator on a mission to have you shine. She works with creative, entrepreneurial women who are tired of “someday, maybe” thinking and ready for her style of bold-hearted coaching. You can find her sharing her passion (and asking a whole lot of questions) at Deva Coaching.

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Are you curious? Sign up for updates Here.

Would you like to submit a guest post on the subject of Curiosity? Send an email to susan {at} susanTblake {dot} com with the subject line: Captains Curious.


2 Responses to Captains Curious: The Practice of Curiousity

  1. LynnH (ColorJoy) September 29, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Thanks for the reminder. Questions are powerful. I’ve been asking many about baking, which is one task in my worklife. What about questions in my scheduling life, or my financial life? What about questions about my website?

    Love it. Thanks to Sandi and also to Susan. Hugs.

  2. Sandi Amorim September 29, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    When we act like something is real or the “truth” there’s no room to explore. When we ask questions a new space is created.

    The thing that’s awesome is you already see how asking questions works for baking! Now you can intentionally practice asking in other areas of life.

    That calls for a big Woohoo!

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