Archive | Captains Curious

Captains Curious: The Practice of Curiousity


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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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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.

Captains Curious: Meet Me in Curiosity


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

Meet Me in Curiosity

Curiosity makes us better people to each other. Curiosity seeds engagement and empathy, not competition.

It means we are genuinely interested in each other, not in how we rank in comparison.

But that’s not how we usually meet each other. You know the drill: A room of strangers at the start of an organized gathering. Everyone takes a seat and the host delivers a welcome message. Then these words fill the air:

“Let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves.”

Left on our own, we choose to meet in Competition

Several years ago I walked into a room with a dozen or so other people I had not yet met. It was my first day of class in an executive business school program. We had come straight from a day of conference rooms and email floods. We were a room full of managers on our best alpha behavior. Small, formal greetings. Minimal eye contact. A silent commentary running through our minds while we sized each other up.

Competition was our default setting.

The introductions were predictable – the high performance of posturing. We offered up impressive titles with immense responsibility. Grandiose workplaces emerged from the fine print of the business cards tucked away in our pockets.

Our interactions throughout this course remained stiff and awkward. Class discussion was minimal – we spoke to our professor, not each other, seeking her approval for our egos. Delivery of our assignments and presentations was wooden, perfunctory. Often, we appeared to be fighting boredom.

Meeting in Curiosity, a twist on an old routine

A year later I joined 30 other students on our first day of a different class. Even more managers, prepared to make an impression.

We introduced ourselves, but with a twist. This time the professor asked us to tell the class something about ourselves that most people didn’t know. Without the titles, the job, the same old cocktail party lines.

The energy in the room was…different. We were a little nervous and a little excited at the same time. During the process, we laughed and smiled together. We asked each other questions, wanting to know more. We sought each other out during breaks, making connections through mutual interests we otherwise would have missed.

Most importantly,we shared our multi-faceted selves in a way that increased empathy and decreased competition. We were curious about each other.

We were present more as our whole selves.

The dynamics in this group were distinctly different. In-class discussions were lively and fluid between classmates and our professor. Breaks often ran long because they were full of conversation. Group projects were imaginative and creative, with active particpation.

Curiosity gave me a second chance

I almost missed out on a great friendship because of competition. I initially met my friend in the first class. Right away I didn’t like her. There was something about her behavior that got under my skin, and I didn’t like being reminded of it every time our class met.

I made a lot of assumptions about her. All of them were wrong.

We were introduced again in curiosity during the later class. Instead of assuming, I asked. So did she. We discovered a mutually shared interest and soon became good friends. All because we finally met in curiosity and gave each other the opportunity to be more of ourselves.

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Andrea Lewicki designs experiences for people to re-engage and maintain their curiosity. She believes that true curiosity is an ego-less quality that seeds kindness and compassion, and that the world is a better place when we can be who we really are. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband. You can meet Andrea in curiosity at the Grand Opening of The Lewicki Agency, a 24-hour interactive, live streaming event on Oct. 28th. You can find out more about her work and the event at www.thelewickiagency.com. She can also be found on Twitter at @Andrea_Lewicki.

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Captains Curious: Meeting Resistance


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

I was very excited!

When I first learned about Captains Curious and the opportunity to share a post here, I was very excited. I was just starting my own blog and so I told Susan that it might be a couple of months before I could contribute. In the time that passed I considered what I would share… and I couldn’t think of anything.

Enter Fear and Resistance

I told my wife, “I think I don’t have any curiosity,” which she obviously told me wasn’t true, because everyone has some curiosity in them. But I wasn’t feeling it. I developed a lot of fear and resistance around writing this post.

This happens to all of us at some point. We start to do something that we think is really awesome and then out of the blue… wham… we are stuck, mired in fear and resistance. We procrastinate and allow ourselves to get distracted and pulled off course. Then we run up against deadlines and start to feel overwhelmed. That is exactly what happened to me.

So how did I move past it?

With curiosity, of course.

There is a concept in Zen Buddhism called Shoshin, or “Beginner’s Mind”, which means to approach things without any preconceptions or expectations. It means letting go of what we think we know and approaching things with openness and curiosity. This idea has been adopted by a variety of spiritual paths, and for good reason!

Approaching the world with beginner’s mind can totally shift our perspective, even… maybe especially… around things we find difficult. It allows us to sort of step outside of ourselves, to look at things from a different angle, without the baggage we carry with us.

So, I approached my resistance with beginner’s mind.

I began to notice when the resistance would creep up around other things. I would catch myself engaging in negative self-talk and something in me began to ask, “is this true?” and usually the answer was No. I began to meet myself with love and curiosity observing my resistance, like a researcher might study the behaviors of animal in the wild, noticing my patterns and behaviors.

I started to ask myself questions, much like I would talk to a client to help them get to the core of their situation.

What triggered my resistance? What was I afraid of? How did it make me feel? Are there past events that I am recalling with new situations? What eased the resistance?

See… and this is the kicker… I use curiosity every day with my clients. I am curious about what they are thinking and feeling and I know how to ask the questions to help them process their stuckness, their resistance, and their feelings of overwhelm.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have curiosity. It was that I was afraid to turn my curious eyes on myself. We are all a little like that, I think. It is often easier to help others work through their process than it is to work through our own.

If we employ some curiosity and look at things with a beginner’s mind, we can move through the hard and move on to the awesome!

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Tina Robbins is a Certified Professional Coach specializing in helping women who want to reclaim their energy so that they can focus it on what is most important in their lives. She believes we can all find our place of passion, power, and purpose. Tina lives in the Denver Colorado area with her spouse and menagerie of animals. She is a spiritual seeker who has spent years on the path of discovering the Divine in herself and all of us. You can find her at her blog www.openroadscoaching.com or on twitter @openroadscoach.


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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.

Captains Curious: Curiosity, Transformation and Transformative Leadership


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

First, my story

Getting here was no easy task. It started in the womb, when my mother decided to abort me and changed her mind moments before the doctor arrived to perform the procedure. When I popped out, I was cyanotic – a blue baby. My heart was wired incorrectly and I was not getting any oxygen. So I was whisked off for my first invasive surgery. When I hit 6 months, I had my second surgery. And by the time I was 2, I had my third open heart surgery. Needless to say, safety was not something I understood well, if at all. Just to make this really clear – my heart stopped three times, for each surgery. And I was “revitalized” or, in essence, “reborn” thrice. At 35, I started noticing a pattern emerge: For me to feel alive, I needed to have near death experiences. When I had that awareness, I was rather stunned.

The story continues with my parents getting divorced at the tender age of 4. And my life falling apart at 7, when I moved in with my step-mother. For 11 years, I endured physical beatings, emotional torture and utter humiliation and cruelty. And then to top it all off, I came out at 19 and was promptly disowned. “Be straight or leave” is what my father said.

When I left, I immediately drowned myself in cheap beer and by the time I hit 27, I was only black-out drinking. Not recommended as a relationship-building skill!

I was what you called a “functional alcoholic.” I prefer the term “functional dysfunctionyte.” By the time I was 28, I was traveling around the world for business, making great amounts of money, meeting amazing people, teaching cutting-edge technology. And I was a serious mess. I was angry, reactive, defensive, impulsive, arrogant, and mean. What I didn’t know was that I was also tremendously sad, painfully hurting, severely traumatized and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

All my initial forays into therapy were shameless expeditions of flirting until eventually the cutest one of them all called me on it. I, of course, blatantly denied it, left her office and never went back.

It was after pulling the plug on my second start-up, where I worked insane hours for three years and lost $100,000, that I crumbled. I didn’t know who I was anymore and completely fell apart. Suicidal and lost, I tumbled into an abyss of confusion. And eight months later, I lost my job, my wife and the house I lived in within a one week period. I now found myself homeless for the second time. And I couldn’t fake it any longer.

Two months prior, I had started an 18 month self-help program at NLP Marin. It was an amazing 18 months of peering into my life, and it laid the foundation for who I have become. It also taught me a list of core questions that have changed the way I engage with people.

I then got an MA in Transformative Leadership Development, as I wanted to do change work with individuals, teams and organizations. I took this program (offered at CIIS in San Francisco) so I could formally learn leadership skills and disseminate those learnings to others. What I realized a year after graduating was that I was really learning the skills to lead myself, to actually walk toward the talk, and where I continued the healing journey. Once I graduated, I entered a post-graduate depression which segued two months later into my psyche imploding, causing the last of my shell to fall away.

Curiosity

It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now and the journey has been challenging, at times miserable and often downright difficult. But through it all, there was one element that kept me taking the next step: Curiosity.

When that life and death pattern came into my awareness at 35, I had profound curiosity as to why I kept manifesting that pattern, so I started asking myself questions about “the Why.” Mostly, I was curious about how I could get the pain to stop. It was unbearable, and all the coping mechanisms were falling to the wayside. I decided that if I wanted to heal and move through the pain, I had to get curious so that I could shift both my thinking patterns and behavioral patterns.

Transformation

So I held up a mirror, looked in it every day and started asking myself questions about me. “I wonder why that is…I wonder what is behind that…this just happened, what need of mine is not being met…what made her say that just now?” These questions, combined with my ferocious curiosity, afforded me the courage to continue to take each tiny step toward healing.

Transformative Leadership

In my quest for healing and all of the learnings that I have come across throughout the years, I noticed many patterns. Some of the patterns that we run unconsciously become outdated and are no longer useful. Some even become detrimental. How do we transform them? In the diagram below, I outline the path of the 7 Phases of Transformative Leadership, the first phase being Curiosity.

These phases have helped me untangle destructive patterns, unearth the roots of the patterns and allow me to choose something different.

Curiosity

Curiosity is the first of seven phases in Transformative Leadership. It’s the crowbar, the key to unlock a dead bolt, the hand gently reaching forward. Curiosity is the starting point and the entry way. Though it is the first phase in the diagram, curiosity is always welcome to visit any phase at any time. The 7 Phases of Transformative Leadership is not a linear process, but rather a fluid adventure in exploration. You may begin at a decision, act accordingly and have an unexpected result, sending you back to curiosity. You may have an awareness about something, which triggers a question, which results in more awareness which then results in yet another question.

Awareness

Think back to a time when you had one of those “Ah-ha!” moments. It could have been about yourself, your partner, your friend, your toddler, your coworker. The experience may have gone something like this: “Oh…when x happens, y person responds like this.” And then you make a decision: “Remember not to leave the food on the counter, otherwise the cat will eat it.”

Self-Reflect

This piece isn’t so much about wondering why the cat eats food left on the counter as about what’s going on with your 17 year old son who forgot to put the food away…and your reaction. It’s about looking at the reaction fully and seeing what the need is behind that reaction. Is the reaction to storm into his room and begin yelling about responsibility? Or is the reaction getting frustrated and cleaning up the mess yourself? If the reaction is on the spectrum of annoyed, angry, irritated, etc, it’s usually about a need that is not being met in some way.

Decide

This is the fork in the road, the pivotal moment, the point where you make a choice. You choose to explore your own set of feelings and not storm into his room. You choose to give yourself empathy and set aside some time to talk to him later when you’re calmer. Decisions are always about two choices: It’s about choosing one thing and not choosing another. When I choose to eat the salad for dinner, and not the pasta dish: I am choosing one thing and not the other. We always have choice, whether we choose to see it that way or not.

Act

Now that you’ve made your choice, it’s about aligning your intent (the choice you decided to choose) with impact (your behaviour). How are you behaving and how is your behaviour being received? Did you achieve the results you wanted? If not, why not? (Curiosity!) Did you have a real heart-to-heart with your son? Or are you noticing that while you may have wanted it to go one way, it actually went the opposite way – or another way entirely that wasn’t even on your radar?

Realign

When we drive a car for a period of time, we eventually wear out our tires. We make a choice about replacing tires and often get them realigned. Wheel alignment “provides safe, predictable vehicle control.” How different is this from humans? Sometimes we’re worn out from the week, jet-lagged, hungry, injured or feeling down. We may need to have a little extra care in realigning our intent with our impact.

Review

Ever filled out an evaluation after attending a training? What about after eating a meal at a restaurant? Or how about a 360 or employee evaluation? Maybe after watching a movie with friends and discussing it over chocolate cake? Taking inventory of an experience is important, especially when it relates back to us. When we know what is in our suitcase, we won’t be petrified going through customs. When we are either hiding something we don’t want others to see or we are just not sure what is packaged inside ourselves, it can be a scary thing to look inside.

So how can this help you?

The answer is: I don’t know. All I know is from my personal experience and the countless stories I have heard from others with whom I have worked. Each person has moved through each of these phases at some point through their life trajectory, whether consciously or otherwise. The key is to create a heightened level of curiosity which allows for a greater sense of awareness. In becoming conscious of entering and exiting The 7 Phases of Transformative Leadership, you have a greater ability to make the choices that you truly want. You begin to align your intention with your impact much more accurately and you travel on path in which you experience freedom in ways you may not know yet.

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Raj Neogy, MA is a consultant, facilitator, and entrepreneur who offers training and consulting in topics such as transformative leadership, conscious business and breakthrough strategy. She has worked with over 500 corporations and organizations worldwide over the last 20 years, including Fortune 100 companies like Sony, Adobe, JVC, and amazon.com. She is the principal of Argien Consulting www.argien.com and founder of Queer Leadership: A Global Perspective.

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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.

Captains Curious: Curiosity Is the Foundation for Creativity and Success


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

Curiosity is the essence of creativity

“Curiosity killed the cat.”  I still laugh when I remember my Mom saying this to me.  For me, curiosity has led me on my grand journey of becoming an acknowledged expert in creativity.  For you see, curiosity is the essence of creativity.  Without curiosity creativity and success would not exist.

Examples

I will give you several examples.  When I was quite young, I lived in a tiny rural community in Texas.  I had no role models and no experience beyond what occurred within a few short miles.  However, my curiosity ate at me.  What else is out there in that other world?

I had no resources to explore that other world.  However, because of my curiosity I developed an insatiable lust for reading.  I especially loved historical novels set in far off exotic places.  I was not allowed to read because it signified laziness.   Due to my abiding curiosity I simply found hiding places where I could read.

It was this same drive of curiosity that led me to leave my community to go to college.   What do they teach in those colleges?  I had no idea but I knew they were filled with books and I knew books satisfied my curiosity.

After I graduated I was curious.  What is it like to work in a shiny multistory building with all the walls covered with windows?  My friends and even those who loved me told me that I was not meant for technology and I would not be any good at it so I should stay away from it.  However, I was curious.  Would I be any good at it?  I would not know unless I tried.  I spent the next several years working for the market leader in emerging technologies and I excelled.  My curiosity was satisfied.

It didn’t stop there

I became aware of the field of creative thinking quite by accident.  I was told, “You are the most creative person I know.”  What does this mean?  Surely this could not be true.  After all I cannot sing, dance, or even memorize poetry.  What is creativity?   My curiosity is rising again.  Where do you go to find out about creativity and what does creativity have to do with the practical things in life?

My curiosity is pulling at me.   It must be satisfied.   I decided to go to Austin to attend a conference sponsored by the American Creativity Association.   The next year I was on the organizing team for the Singapore conference.

Do you remember my curiosity led me to read about exotic far off places when I was young?  If you are curious about creativity in a far off place, then Singapore satisfied my curiosity completely.  I travelled there and met my future business partner, Lars Ringe, founder of RobotLab.  My curiosity led me to this creativity and innovation expert from Denmark.

Curiosity drives my passions

Let us now return to my passions.  These include creativity and technology.  I am curious.  How can I take advantage of the power of social networking and social media to share knowledge about creativity and innovation?  I am so curious I decided to take classes in social networking.  Six months later, I was invited to be a professional guest blogger for the Front End of Innovation Europe held in Amsterdam.  This is an event sponsored by the International Institute of Research.  My curiosity led to me a rather terrifying and daunting situation but again I succeeded.

My curiosity led me to join many social networking groups.  Many are focused on creativity and innovation but some are focused on science and technology or women in technology.   My curiosity compels me to connect with fascinating people on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I continue to satisfy my curiosity about how to build creative teams and how to increase their performance.  I wrote a white paper entitled Mastering Creative Problem Solving Within Teams and it was presented to the International Association of Science Parks by Lars Ringe, founder of RobotLab in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I was to be the presenter but, alas, I had to attend my daughter’s wedding in Dublin, Ireland.

Rejoice in your curiosity and fulfill your dreams!

My curiosity has been my major driver leading me to many adventures in the world of creativity and innovation.  For a joyful and passionate life, you must rejoice in your curiosity and satisfy it to find out what type of creative adventures you can embark upon to fulfill your dreams!

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Connie Harryman is CEO of Applied Concepts Creativity.  She refers to herself as a Creativity Developer.  She is also the President of the American Creativity Association – Austin Global.  Her blog is http://developyourcreativethinking.com/ You are invited to connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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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.

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Captains Curious: The Reactivation of My Imagination


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

Imagination, Curiosity and Infinite Possibility

You and I both know that imagination all by itself has unlimited possibility. When was the last time you really used yours? Do you know that most people have about 90% of the same thoughts day after day?  Unless you are in the arts and creating on a regular basis, you probably fall into that category. Scary, huh?!

Think about your day, the routine of your day. Most of us have our lives down to a system of one sort or another. You know the drill… get up, shower, brush your teeth… in some order. Within that system, we typically have routines or jobs we love and those we dread. There are subsets within the system – you know, relationships, work, family. We may get imaginative if we are planning a vacation, or a party, or we may hire someone to do that for us because we are too busy doing what is required on the list every day.

What does Imagination mean?

In fact, let’s look at the definition. Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. What would it be like if you could rekindle your imagination? Who has time for that? You may ask, ”Why would I want to? I am not a creative person! What is the point?”

I am glad that you are asking “Why?” because that means you are curious.

What does it mean to be Curious?

Let me give you Webster’s definition of curious; there are three. 1) Eager to learn; 2) Unduly inquisitive; prying; 3) Arousing interest because of novelty. Read this again! Does anyone want to appear unduly prying, or feel as though they are arousing interest because they are a novelty? I contend that even when we allow ourselves curiosity, we are restricted by the parameters of what it means to be a good person in polite society. Curiosity is pretty much bred out of us, except in structured or controlled environments – in which case it is no longer genuine but contrived.

We are told from the time we are little that too much curiosity can get us into trouble. So we learn to do what is in front of us, do what we are told and taught in good faith; doing this will get us the success we aspire to. We stop asking questions – at least questions that don’t allow for an answer we already think we know. I believe that when we go along with this guidance, which most children do, a piece of us dies; that innocent, childlike Essence within us is given no room to play beyond our early years – unless we carve it out for ourselves and make it happen.

The reactivation of my curious imagination

In my work as a psychotherapist and a healer of deeply hidden emotions, as well as in my personal life, the reactivation of my imagination has meant everything to me. I remember the first summer my son came home from college after my husband and I had separated. He was sullen, and did not speak to me much unless it came out angry.  He was also displaying typical teenage boy behavior of not picking up after himself and not actively looking for a summer job. If the family hadn’t been going through a major adjustment, I might have just harassed him.

Instead, I decided to allow my imagination to help me. I began to ask my inner wisdom, “What can I say to him that would create a doorway into his silence that wouldn’t offend him or make our relationship more tenuous?” By living in this question for a few days and not succumbing to my frustration, one morning upon waking a simple idea came to me.

I asked him if I could ask him a question, and when he said yes I asked, “Are you not talking to me because you are mad at me or because you are just mad?”  His response was, “I am just mad.” I sighed in relief and told him, I was happy it wasn’t me, and I was here for him. Within a few minutes he started to talk. His talking to me came from a place of trust with him, because I was simply curious without an agenda. This short conversation set the stage for a heartfelt summer versus one of adversity. It took a couple of days of asking myself the question, and searching for a new way of being with my young adult son, to come up with something that simple.  However, the time and result were well worth it.

Without our curiosity…

I contend that without our curiosity, our unabashed (without judgment or preconceived notions) ability to ask “what is this?” even when this is something we have seen a hundred time before and we think we know but we want to see with new eyes, we are very close to being automatons: Human machines that do pretty much the same thing everyday.

The alternative

When we are willing to ask, “What is this?” and we ask with genuine willingness to put aside whatever we think we know and allow our inner wisdom to form a mental image of something not present to our senses or current reality, we open a window to a new sense of aliveness. When I was willing to assume I didn’t know what was going on in my son and start from there, it opened a doorway into a summer of conversation instead of stress.

When we are willing to use curiosity coupled with imagination, we are activating our right brain, and bringing a new balance into our bodies. We activate an aliveness within ourselves that creates satisfaction and a sense of connection. Curiosity, combined with a willingness to be imaginative in ways we think or believe we have forgotten, opens doors of infinite possibilities in whatever areas of our lives are stale, or stifling and dreadful. Try it! See what your inner wisdom will bring alive in you.

A great resource for activating your right brain and imagination is “Breaking The Rules” by Kurt Wright.

Please leave a comment below!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Ruth Kellogg has extensive experience in both the worlds of psychotherapy and business. She has owned her own businesses for 30 years, and has been a licensed therapist since 1986. While she has not always been in the healing arts, the healing arts have always been her passion. Ruth is a gifted intuitive who uses her ability to uncover the emotional pain her clients carry in the invisible pockets of their unconscious emotional body, mind, and spirit continuum. She helps them to release the pain that silently runs their lives and anchors the beliefs that keep unwanted recurring patterns in place. Find her online at http://www.RuthKellogg.com and on Twitter @ruthkellogg.

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Captains Curious: Curiosity, People-Watching and Business Reconnaissance


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

An Introvert Uses Curiosity

As an introvert, curiosity is a quiet endeavor. I can sit happily at the back of a room full of people and observe.

In Person

People-watching is an Olympic sport for me. At every concert, party and business conference my way of working the room is to identify the mini soap operas in progress. Who is alone in the room and why? Why does that lady in the corner have on so much eye liner? Who will be sneaking out of the party later for a clandestine meeting?

Attend any networking event and instead of plunging right into swapping business cards, stand back a bit and see how fast you can identify the star of the show. She’ll be working the room, joking with her fellow cast members, accepting drinks bought just for her and later will confide to you that everyone in the room (except for you) owes her favors.

You won’t believe she has the audacity to tell you this. But opportunities to get a clear view of the business landscape in your industry come to the quietly curious. You just have to keep an eye on all the players and your mouth shut.

The same is true online.

I don’t even have to leave my house anymore to watch my small hometown business soap operas play out on Facebook. I can connect the dots “Kevin Bacon style” between groups of business and marketing people on LinkedIn.

I know who is friends with whom on the biggest blogs in my industry, just by keeping up with blog comments and product launches. I’ve overheard many titillating conversations, that I’d never be privy to in real life, play out on Twitter. For an introvert like me, this is people-watching at its finest.

So what makes this more than just a spectator sport?

If you need to do business research, want to know who the players are in your industry or are looking for a good partner for a joint venture, be curious. Even if you are normally an extrovert, try on an introvert’s Curiosity Hat for a while.

Watch what’s happening on the various social media channels, see what topics are popular, see who’s connected to whom, be curious about how people talk to (and about) each other and their businesses online. And instead of shouting all this info to the roof tops, store it away for later.

My curiosity has led me down a winding road of Twitter connections to great business coaches like Sarah Robinson (http://escaping-mediocrity.com) and to amazingly supportive groups like LaVonne Ellis’s Customer Love (http://makecustomersloveyou.com).

All these connections, which are helping me grow my business, wouldn’t have come about if I wasn’t curious about what other people are doing online and why.

But here’s where people-watching from the sidelines officially ends and curiosity has to go public:

If I want to play my part now, I have to step out of my comfort zone and use all the information I’ve gathered in my people-watching phase to strike up a conversation. No one’s going to notice me (or you) sitting silently in the back of the room, but they will notice and be curious about someone who has taken the time to notice them.

Please leave a comment below!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Christie Halmick copy writes and designs brilliant websites and ebooks for entrepreneurial women. You can find her at: http://jewelsbranch.com and on Twitter: @jewelsbranch


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Captains Curious: Curiosity, Mischief and Sending Jesus to a Different Party


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Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. This week we have an encore performance from Captains Curious member Colin Beveridge! To learn about the other Captains Curious, please click here.

Who would you invite?

There’s a common ‘define yourself’ exercise that asks you to list the historical figures you’d invite to a dinner party. Almost everyone picks John Lennon and Jesus, perhaps so they can settle the debate once and for all, but also possibly to sort out the entertainment and the catering.

I recently rearranged the guest list for mine, unceremoniously revoking Jesus’ invitation so I could give it to Benjamin Franklin. I listened to a lecture series on his life recently and goggled at the range and depth of what he did. Plus, he seems like good company, and I imagine Jesus has other parties to go to.

Why?

I realised, though, that there’s a thread running through my long list of guests. Several threads, in fact, but the one that jumps out at me is insufferable curiosity.

Not just curiosity – they don’t let you into the world of science unless you’re curious – but there’s a difference between (say) Feynman and Einstein, or between Galileo and Leonardo, or even between John Lennon and Paul McCartney: A sense of mischief.

It’s the willingness to ask, “Why have we always done things that way?” and follow up with “That’s not a very good reason, is it?” and probably “Why don’t we do it _this_ way?”

This is a series of questions that has led to a lot of burnt-down laboratories, some pretty ludicrous trials, and the White Album, but it’s also responsible for pretty much every advance ever made in the fields of science, music, technology, literature, society, and everything other part of life.

I ask those questions about exams. Franklin asked them about lightning and political structures and education. Lennon asked them about the three-chord pop song and war.

Why have we always done things that way?

How good a reason is that?

Why don’t we do it _this_ way?

From same-old-same-old to revolution

It’s a series of questions that can take you from same-old-same-old to revolutionising your world, and you can apply it to almost anythingWhy do you charge people by the hour? Why do you eat your starter before your dessert? Why do you walk that way around the park?

Sometimes you come up with a good reason. Sometimes your alternative sucks. And sometimes you come up with something so crazy that it might just work.

What areas of your life and work can you ask about?

How can you apply your mischievous curiosity and change the world?

Leave a comment below!

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Colin Beveridge (@icecolbeveridge, http://www.flyingcoloursmaths.co.uk) is a math confidence coach and author of the UK version of Basic Maths For Dummies. He helps children and adults overcome their fear of math and start to discover its beauty. He lives in Poole, England with an espresso pot and a guitar and nothing to prove.

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Captains Curious: Why Are Some People More Curious Than Others?


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

I’ve always been curious

I’ve always been curious about many things:

  • How were spaghettis living in the deep sea manufactured? (Being a kid I didn’t know they were marine creatures!)
  • Why did the horizon on the Mediterranean Sea, from my balcony, form a 3° inclination with my mason’s level?
  • Why is it that when you were younger, time seemed to go a lot slower? And the more you age, the faster time goes by?
  • Why do we live moments we feel we already lived in the past? (Ok, I’m sure you asked yourself that one many times too.)

Those are just few of my past curiosities, but what intrigued me for good is the effect that graphic and musical arts have on my aesthetic senses. When in front of beauty, I always ask my self: “How is it made? Why is it so beautiful? How can I produce the same effect?” And that’s how I learned to draw by myself, and play music with imaginary instruments, then digital ones.

How curiosity makes me discover hidden secrets

In my school days, and life in general, curiosity always helped me to focus on important questions dismissed by the vast majority. Many times it made me pierce the “truth.”

But what I observed is that people around me never seem to notice irregular phenomena – like the 3° inclination of our sea’s horizon – or try to understand what caused some observable facts like when I told one of my dreams to someone and saw the events come true.

If people didn’t understand what happened, they just denied it, or said something was wrong with the measuring tools or their own sight, or that it was coincidence! I can’t tell enough how frustrating it was to endure people’s absence of curiosity or, even worse, total denial.

Today, even though I still feel a little like an extraterrestrial, I’m very glad I can have that kind of curiosity because it lets me learn new amazing things.

The Curiosity who killed the cat

I had this “curiosity that killed the cat” in my adolescence, like many I’m sure, but no longer now; too-personal details about people is not what I am curious about.

When we want to know someone we like, there’s nothing more natural than our need to discover some aspects of his/her life. True. But I wouldn’t want to learn any too intimate details about anyone, unless it happens within a private discussion with that particular person.

On the other hand, I ask myself: Why are some people that curious about other people’s lives, but never do anything positive with their findings? They just talk about it with their curious mates, with no clear objective. Why, exactly? I wonder.

My musical curiosity; back to the source

I like to be curious about what makes music so hooky or groovy. For example, I choose a musical hit and reverse engineer it to its source(s) of inspiration that the artist used in the first place: It’s amazing how people in general don’t recognize some obviously famous music compositions from the past, which are adapted by some trendy artists today.

Isn’t it funny when someone listens to an original composition and says “Oh, they plagiarized my favourite singer!” But they don’t realize they just listened to the original music piece! When you tell them the truth about all their latest favourite music hits, people fall into total denial and distrust once again. I’m used to those reactions now.

Here’s how I listen to music I like: The first thing I’m curious about is, what was the artist’s inspiration? What were their influences? It’s fine to appreciate today’s art productions, but if we don’t study their sources and influences, then how could we fully appreciate their new contribution?

I almost succeeded to make them curious

I often share my curious questions with family and friends, but one simple curiosity I have is: Why aren’t they curious? Why do they settle with what they know and never seem to want to learn something new? Or think about possible answers to unanswered questions? How would it be possible to open their appetite for curiosity, or for learning new things?

When I thought I was about to succeed in making someone permanently curious about a subject, they suddenly found an excuse to escape from any further thinking; it looked as if someone slapped them to wake them up. That’s really funny to see.

What’s happened then? Is it a lack of patience? Short focus span? Fear to discover the truth? I really wonder. Maybe you know that secret answer.

Now It’s Your Turn!

What are you curious about? Please share your curious thoughts, experiences or questions in the comments below, or just type whatever crosses your mind right now, we’re curious to know!

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Karim Benyagoub is a graphic designer and digital music artist in Algeria; you can follow him on Twitter at @KarimBenyagoub. http://twitter.com/KarimBenyagoub



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Sea Anemone image by OpenCage.info under Creative Commons’s Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license



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Captains Curious: Ditching the Daemons – Fear


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Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. This week: An encore from Captains Curious member Birdy Diamond! To learn about the series and the other Captains Curious, please click here.

Fear and curiosity cannot live in the same space

As my wonderfully wise hubby said in our “Curiosity in Times of the Tower” post, fear and curiosity tend not to be able to live in the same space.

Curiosity encourages you to take a breath, to look at things in a different light and from a different perspective.

So when you are in a place of fear, you can use curiosity to your advantage.

What fear is… and isn’t

Let’s stop for a moment and talk about what fear really is… and isn’t.

At the end of the day, fear is your body’s way of telling you that you are in the area of something new, a place you have never been before. Whether that place is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual doesn’t really matter.

It’s new, and therefore it is scary.

Natural human reaction. Back in the day, it very nicely kept us from being eaten – which is, overall, a good thing.

Nowadays, while there are still things out there ready and willing to eat us, metaphorically and otherwise, the number of things that are new is nowhere near the same number as the things-that-are-new-that-are-also-dangerous. That number is distinctly in the minority.

And yet… we still have that same old fear reaction.

Curiosity rides to the rescue

What happens if you replace that fear with curiosity?

The literal thing is that you pause your emotional reaction and start thinking in a different way, from a different part of you.

The result is that you can breathe and analyze whether something is truly a threat to you, or it just appears that way because it is new.

Which is very important in Mike’s and my line of work.

Replacing the Fear with Curiosity

In our line of work, an expanded and expansive worldview is a must.

This means that one must be willing to not only suspend disbelief, but also to suspend the fear reaction in order to analyze what is really going on.

Curiosity is an excellent way to do both.

Curiosity lends itself quite nicely to the question-asking, the what-if thinking, that our profession requires.

Curiosity led us to making the explorations necessary to answer those questions, and the self-adjustments necessary to make those explorations.

The paranormal is a field filled with a lot of fear, almost by definition. If it is ‘beyond normal’, then it is new, therefore it is scary.

Except that it doesn’t have to be.

Two choices – Curiosity or Fear

You can hear a ‘pop’ or a knock that has no physical origin and be frightened, or you can hear the same sound and say ‘Hi!’, knowing that one of your friends has come to visit.

How did we get from fear to here?

Curiosity.

Curiosity led us to wonder if there was more out there, more than had been shared with us already.

Curiosity led us to explore a new career path, and to do the practice that let us get good at it.

Curiosity led us to calm our initial fear reactions long enough to find out whether new experiences would be really a danger or not.

Curiosity led, and continues to lead, us to explore further, to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Story Time

As an example, back in late 2008/2009, we came into contact with a being who is not native to this planet. Over the course of a number of conversations, we grew to become quite comfortable with the notion of talking to this being who is very different from us – physically, culturally, etc.

Curiosity led us to find the techniques and have the conversations that made understanding possible.

Even so, I was not yet ready to meet our friend in person. Something about that many fangs & scales in one space, no matter how friendly the being they were attached to, was just not something I was quite ready for yet and, embarrassed, I told him so.

Our friend understood. It was not time yet anyway, so it all worked out well.

Move forward to Hallowe’en 2009, when I met a gentleperson whom I am 95% sure was dressed in a Greys costume. Just out of curiosity, I asked myself “Self, I’m pretty sure this person is wearing a costume, and that’s not his own skin, but what if it were? Would you be okay with that?”

And to my delight, I discovered I would be.

Use curiosity to expand your worldview

Allow yourself to think of ‘What ifs?’ and realize that they don’t have to be made of Doom & Gloom.

Use curiosity in the face of fear to give yourself the chance to view things as they really are, and not just as you see them. :>

Use curiosity to dispassionately evaluate what is scaring you: Is it really a danger? Or is it just new?

Then act accordingly! :>

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Birdy Diamond and her husband, Mike Diamond, two “nearly-normal people in a not-yet normal profession,” run Paranormal Lifestyle.com, a business and blog devoted to helping people “put the ‘normal’ into ‘paranormal’.” They also explore other applications for their channelling across the various blogs of The Avian Empire.

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Post Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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