Tag Archives | Courage

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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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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Two Old Women – A Parable


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Once Upon a Time, two old women were abandoned by their tribe during a horribly long, bitter winter when the tribe did not have enough to eat. Members of the tribe did not want to do it, but they saw no other way to survive. There was not enough food to go around, and the old women slowed them down as they moved from place to place. There was much fear among tribe members – fear of the winter, fear of doing wrong, fear of starving, fear of cannibalism, fear of being left behind with the old women if they spoke up.

So no one spoke up.

The old women were aghast, and hurt, and angry. They could easily have given up, succumbed to self-pity and the cold.

But they did not.

The tribe did leave them their tent, the daughter of one of the women left strips of animal hide, and the grandson of one surreptitiously left them his hatchet. The old women decided to use these things, and the skills they had forgotten but once used regularly, to catch rabbits, build shelters and keep the coals of their fire alive. Despite their aches and pains and broken hearts, they moved to a new campsite and survived through to the next spring. They proceeded to build a comfortable shelter and stockpile dried fish, meat, and clothing made from the skins of the animals they had caught.

The two old women made a comfortable life for themselves, but they were quite wary of their former tribe members. They made sure that the place they chose for their winter home would be difficult to find, as they were afraid that the tribe would come back and steal what they had so carefully built over the summer.

The following winter, the tribe returned to the place where they had left the two old women. It was another difficult winter, and the tribe was nearly in as difficult a situation as they had been the previous year. They expected to find some evidence that the old women had died there, and were amazed – and hopeful – when they did not find that evidence. The chief, who had wrestled hard with the decision to abandon the old women, decided to do the right thing and sent his best scout and three hunters to search for the old women.

After a long search, the wise scout found the area where the two old women had established their camp. He smelled the faint smoke of their fire and called out to them.

Terrified, the two old women debated whether they should respond. They decided to face their fear and called back to the scout. The two old women shared some food with the four men, and they exchanged stories, warily.

The scout told the old women that the chief regretted leaving them behind and had sent him to find them, and that they meant them no harm. He also told them that the tribe was, once again, in dire straits and suffering great hardship.

The two old women again debated – what should they do? This was the tribe that had left them to die. Although they had more food than they could use by themselves, should they share?

The two old women recognized that they had the chance to do the right thing. Yet they also recognized that they were not ready for things to go back to the way they were.

They decided upon a compromise: They would share their wealth with the tribe, but they would maintain their separate camp. They had come to value their independence and relished the success they had made from reawakening and building upon their old skills.

In time, there were reconciliations and the two old women spent time with the young ones, teaching them the skills they had once forgotten, sharing their wisdom and enjoying new respect within the tribe.

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I recently re-read this legend of the Athabascan Indians of the upper Yukon, which is movingly told by Athabascan writer Velma Wallis in the little book, Two Old Women. I was moved again by the many lessons this story has for us, lessons about fear, courage, perseverance, confidence, humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

But this time the story offered me another meaning. The last time I had read this story was long before the economic troubles that began in 2007, long before thousands of companies faced starvation and fear in the coming economic winter.

Two Old Women, I realized, is a parable for this time. It carries much food for thought: Millions of people were abandoned by their tribes during this winter, left to fend for themselves with only a hatchet and a few supplies – and their wits. For many there have been unexpected benefits – new skills, rediscovered skills, opportunities for independence. For many there has been malnutrition and frostbite on many levels. For some there has been reconciliation. For most things will never be the same.

What lessons do you take from this parable? What role would be yours in this story?

I was one of the tribe members, until I became one of the old women. I am pleased to say that I have survived – and thrived. I will also never be the same, and I am glad.

What about you? The story is not over; what role do you play, and do you wish to change it? Is reconciliation possible? If so, what shape should it take?

Note: I do not tell the story of the two old women and their people nearly as well as Velma Wallis. I encourage you to get a copy of Two Old Women and let this fine storyteller weave her tale for you.


Photo Credit: Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com

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How Willing Are You to Be Caught Learning?


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This fairly innocuous question came up recently in discussion, and I admit it went in one ear and out the other until later.

How willing are you to be caught learning?

Whether facilitating a discussion or process, managing a project, or leading others in whatever capacity, we I want to look good. We I want to be respected. We I want to keep control of the situation.

At the same time, we are human. We learn new things all the time, which is part of how we got where we are. We even (gasp) make mistakes – which is (hopefully) one of the ways we learn.

The fact that we learn, or even that we make mistakes, isn’t the issue here. (It’s actually a whole other issue.)

The issue is contained in the language of the question:

How willing are you to be caught learning?

Mm hmm. That’s different.

To be caught learning.

Just the language suggests that we’re being caught in the act of something wrong, that someone has seen us doing something we shouldn’t, that the expectation is that we don’t do that.

Caught red-handed. Caught in the act.

You’re supposed to be the expert.

You’re supposed to know what you’re doing.

We’re not paying you to learn at our expense.

And yet…

Leading, in whatever capacity, is a bit like parenting. Ideally we are modeling the behaviors we want people to learn and engage in. Instead of “Do as I say, not as I do,” the ideal is “Do as I do.”

Do we lose our authority when we are “caught” learning? Or do we strengthen and deepen it?

Much depends on the expectations of the group (and how we manage them), our own expectations, and the rules of engagement.

Much also depends on how we handle the situation:

Do we acknowledge the learning, even admitting to having been wrong? Or do we try to cover up the learning in some way?

Covering up the learning can be very dangerous, because it sends nefarious (and untrue) messages that I Am Never Wrong, I Have Nothing Else To Learn, It Isn’t Safe to admit to not being perfect or not knowing everything (so you shouldn’t admit it either), or There Are Different Rules For You And Me, and so on. It also raises the question in the minds of others, If You’re Not Being Honest About This, What Else Are You Not Being Honest About?

We can lose more credibility by being “caught” learning and being dishonest about it than by being honest about being wrong or learning something new.

So, is the solution to avoid being caught learning? Or to be transparent about learning and being willing to change our minds and directions?

I propose that the answer is to be visible and transparent about learning. This can be done without surrendering authority; in fact it can strengthen the respect people have for us and serve as a learning opportunity for all of us (even if it is a humbling one).

What do you think? What are your assumptions and expectations about leadership – your own or others’? What are the pressures that can make it difficult to effectively lead by example?

Please leave a comment below!


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Image by renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Place for Joy – in Business?


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I have pretty amazing friends

Not long ago I invited some friends to support me in making a long-time dream of mine come true. In my letter, I explained what I wanted them to do, and I suggested four things that were in it for them if they helped:

  • Joy.
  • Curiosity. (“Can she do it?” “What’s it like to learn a new instrument?”)
  • Regular updates.
  • Music! I promised them a concert at the end of six months.

I invited about 95 people. I expected four or five to respond.

35 people pledged their support.

That’s right, thirty-five.

In marketing terms, that’s a 37% conversion rate.

I was shocked and amazed. Blown away!

So, I’m learning to play the banjo. (So far I know eight chords, I’m on my way to mastering one finger-picking pattern, and I’ve already created my own lick.)

I started wondering…

Once I got over the shock and awe, I started wondering. What the heck had I said that inspired them to respond in such droves? Granted, I have pretty amazing friends, many of whom have supported me in a variety of ways for years. Others among this group I confess I don’t know as well.

What the heck had I done to get a 37% conversion rate? And could I apply it to my business?

Maybe I just have amazing friends

At first I chalked it up to their being my friends and generally cool people. But in the small-business marketing circles I’m in, there’s a lot of talk about finding your “right people” (which is even more targeted than “target audience”). In marketing terms, I clearly found my Right People – at least for this.

Was there more to it?

I tried to leave it at that. But being the curious person that I am, I couldn’t stop wondering: Was there more to it? So I asked some of the people who had stepped up: What was it that inspired them?

I got two main responses (from everyone I asked):

Joy.

And they get to help make a dream come true.

That they responded with “Joy” didn’t really surprise me, since I had put that in the letter. (Although I was really pleased that it so appealed to them.) But I didn’t really think that would help me much with my business; after all, Joy isn’t something you hear about that much in the business world.

That they leapt at the chance to help make a dream come true didn’t surprise me much either, because they are all extraordinary people. What is interesting is that I didn’t use those words in my letter. But I had written a compelling message, so that aspect came through.

How awesome is that? But I didn’t think that would help me much in my business either, because people aren’t going to give me their business so that they can make MY dreams come true.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it

I still couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I remembered how I had heard Rich Sheridan, the founder of Menlo Innovations, say that it was his goal to for his people to be joyful at work. Maybe, I thought, that isn’t such a foreign concept after all.

If it’s not about joy, what is it about?

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Curiosity, wonder, employee engagement, courage, drawing people out, bringing people together… if it’s not about joy, what is it about?

So when someone asked me a few days ago what business I’m in, I explained that I am a small business consultant and coach, and I work with individuals and small business to identify the obstacles that are holding them back and work over, under, around, or through them … (and I went out on a limb here) so they can get the joy back in what they do.

Wow! She started telling me all about her business and how she’s lost the joy and what her big struggle is. Amazing.

A few days later a gentleman asked me about my business, and I told him the same thing. He’d been taking notes, but he lit up and really started scribbling when I talked about getting the joy back.

And he hired me.

A place for joy in business

Maybe there is a place for talking about joy in business. There is certainly a place for joy in our lives, and small business people often pick their our businesses because what they we do gives them us joy. And when we lose that it’s a sad thing.

I get a lot of joy from talking to people about what they do, what they would like to do better, and working with them to do that. It’s not the only thing that brings me joy, but it sure is a part of my work. Joy is contagious. And working with people to bring back their joy – or to find it for the first time – now that’s a dream come true.

What brings you joy – in your life, or in your work? Is it missing? Let’s find it.

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Captains Curious: Curiosity in Times of the Tower


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Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. The newest members of the Captains Curious are Mike and Birdy Diamond! To learn about the series and the other Captains Curious, please click here.

What good is curiosity? Just how important is it?

When Birdy brought up the question of curiosity to me, I got to thinking about how vitally important curiosity was, especially in Times of the Tower, a.k.a. times of major life-altering change, for those of you not immediately familiar with Tarot symbolism.

Why?

Because when people are having problems, what normally happens is the instinctual hiding and going inward thing. You know – you are being hunted (it doesn’t really matter by what) and you should hide and go into yourself. Don’t be noticed, maybe the bad thing will eat somebody else – just sit there and feel sorry for yourself.

Which is exactly the wrong thing to do!

Even in the old days, having friends with spears was a lot more useful.

Birdy chiming in here, with some examples for those of you (like me) who learn better by story.

Where shall we begin?

Oh, yes, the running-and-hiding-under-furniture thing.

Yes, a definite tendency, and one I’ve practiced far more often than I’d like to admit. 😀

But yes, while an instinctive move, perhaps not the best one to make in such times.

On a personal note, the running and hiding thing has caused me FAR more embarrassment and trouble than it was worth.

To the point that no, I don’t have any stories that I’m willing to share about that aspect, beyond ‘Been there. Done that. Do NOT recommend it!’ :>

But why curiosity?

  • Because you can’t be curious and closed down at the same time.
  • Fear doesn’t last in the face of curiosity
  • Curiosity forces you to look outward
  • It encourages perspective
  • It encourages thinking ‘outside the box’

All of which is exactly what you should be doing in Times of the Tower.

So.

A story that I AM willing to share.

Well, the first one that comes to mind is the one that sparked this whole ‘Time of the Tower’ idea in the first place.

As is so often the case, it was the personal situation that brought it home.

We’d heard about the Japan earthquake/tsunami, but were distant enough from it to view it with the detached compassion that occurs when the turmoil is not at your own front door.

Then our own world fell apart, and the need to deal with the Time of the Tower hit home.

My husband was informed that his employer was succumbing to their own lack of curiosity and entering into bankruptcy, which meant the closing of a number of stores, including the one he worked at.

(If you’ve been hanging around me at all, you probably know the parties involved, but as Susan rightly pointed out, names are not important here. What is important is our own curious approach to getting our tailfeathers out of the fire. Besides, the retail industry’s lack of curiosity and the consequences therefrom is a WHOLE ‘nother show. :-D)

  • Because you can’t be curious and closed down at the same time.

So, after the crying and the screaming was done (I freely admit in times of stress, I tend to go to my Totem Sparrow, who is not exactly the quietest of Birds!), we set about putting our curiosity to work.

  • Fear doesn’t last in the face of curiosity

Sitting down and exploring our options was an excellent way to keep the boogeyman at bay, which was definitely helpful, especially for those middle-of-the-night fears that creep up and pounce unwanted, though not unexpectedly.

  • Curiosity forces you to look outward

Later on, we would discover that Explorer is an Archetype shared by both of us, which explains a lot about why curiosity is such an important thing for both of us.

At the moment though, we were only interested in figuring out what the flock we were going to do to get ourselves out of this mess. With an unemployment rate of 11% in Michigan, and a distinct lack of desirable options as far as a range of jobs, the squeeze definitely seemed on.

But we put all that behind us and sat down, determined to use our curiosity find a way that worked.

We brainstormed.

We hashed out options.

We worked things out to make sure vital things would be taken care of.

We took action, both because it was the Useful Thing to Do, and because it kept the boogeymen in the middle of the night at bay.

  • It encourages thinking ‘outside the box’

Curiosity let us do all that.

It freed us from being so immersed in the situation that we couldn’t move.

It allowed us to explore other options and paths.

It allowed us to look at things in new lights and from new directions.

Good things those.

  • It encourages perspective

And it also gave our brains something useful to do, instead of dwelling on the negatives, which was very useful from both a movement and metaphysical perspective.

It also gave us the freedom to look at the situation from more than just the angle of a soon-to-be-ex-employee. This is valuable stuff, not only for the information it brings at the time, but also for avoiding future problems in one’s own life and situation.

For example, the things we’ve learned about what NOT to do in business are both numerous and things people would pay tons of money to know.

Many are common-sense, which just goes to show you how scale and business veneer can change one’s vision. And that ultimately, when it comes to business smarts, size does not matter, which can be an incredible confidence builder!

The Time of the Tower is all about the ‘out with the old – and in with the new’ kind of time.

If you are associated with the old thing – even if indirectly – it can start off as a bad thing. And often it is bad.

At least in the beginning.

The old thing going away always leaves a vacuum.

Always!

It hurts. It still does, even though at the time of this writing, we’ve had nearly a month of Mike being home. The benefits are numerous, and on a big-picture level, we don’t regret a thing, but it’s still all too easy to give way to the emotions that lie just underneath, the parts of you that resist change with all their might, even when it’s the best change that could happen to you.

To be replaced with something new.

And there is the opportunity!

The gift in disguise, if you only know how to look for it.

And overall, it IS the best thing that could happen to us. The changes, both personal and professional, that have occurred in just the short time since Mike’s come home are both a telling example of what is wrong with Big Business today, and a striking example that not all seemingly devastating change is, in actuality, devastating.

Encourage your curiosity!

Gain the perspective that will allow you to see that it is a Time of the Tower and to look for those opportunities that are there if you only have the curiosity to look for them.

Once you realize it’s only a ‘Time of the Tower’, you know it’s a side effect of a growth spurt – along with the associated opportunities – so you know there is no need to waste any more time with fear.

If it’s ultimately going to be a good thing, then why worry?

But, remember one thing.

The old ways of doing things may be part of what is going away.

So, be on the lookout for new, outside-the-box solutions and methods for your future.

Encourage your curiosity – you will find it quite profitable!

* * * * *

Mike Diamond, man of mystery & science. Aviator, astronomer, inveterate questioner & explorer. Also a channel, he & his Guides eagerly await opportunities to educate folks on what’s out there in the Universe. You can find him most often on the decks of the A.E.V. CrowTarot (http://www.crowtarottours.com) or in the Mind Arts Lab of Blanket University (http://www.craftycrows.com), but he is also to be found flying about through all the sites of the Avian Empire. (http://www.theavianempire.com)

Birdy Diamond can most often be seen flying around the web gathering bits for her ‘Roving Robin’ columns for such sites as: Birds on the Blog, CustomerLove, and the Caffeinated Business Community. In her native habitat of the ‘Avian Empire’ (www.theavianempire.com), she is most often to be found in the Studio of TwOOwls Art (www.twoowlsart.com), the Mysticphoenyx Cafe (www.mysticphoenyxcafe.com), or the Talking Tree over at ‘An Encouraging Bird’ (www.anencouragingbird.com), though she is also to be found on board the A.E.V. CrowTarot and on various parts of the campus of Blanket University.

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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: What Was the Cat Doing?


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

Curiosity killed the cat, or so they say. I’m curious about what the cat was doing before it died. What adventure did the cat go on? It had to be awesome.

Zombeez aren’t curious. Their minds are vast wastelands of cardboard. No cats live in the hive.

Creativity Needs Curiosity

My blog is filled with posts revolving around creativity, but that creativity needs curiosity. Curiosity makes us ask “What if?” and creativity provides limitless possibilities to answer with “Maybe this or that.” Working on this post made me realize how intertwined curiosity and creativity are. I hadn’t thought much about curiosity (as separate being) before. I let it hang out in the shadow of creativity. In reality, you can’t have one without the other.

Curiosity is a risk and an adventure. You can ask any cat about that.

The Hive Doesn’t Want You to Be Curious

You risk doing something new, different, or nontraditional. You lead yourself on your own customized adventure. The risks won’t always be life threatening, like jumping out of a plane, but it might feel like it. The longer you live according to the hive mind the more dangerous curiosity feels. The hive doesn’t want you to be curious; they use fear to try and control you, because they are afraid.

Think about what a dreary boring place the world would be if no one every followed their curiosity. We would still be living in caves and hunting with sticks. The caves wouldn’t even have cool cave art.

Curiosity Will Set You Free

It may be true that love will set you free, but I don’t think they got that quite right. Curiosity will set you free and lead you on a lifetime of adventure. That sounds way more exciting to me.

Why Is It Always a Cat?

Writing this post has got me wondering (curious) about why it is always a cat and not some other animal that kicks it. I think it is because cats are independent and do what they want. Cats are the opposite of zombeez (mindless drones).  Are you more cat or zombee?

How often do you follow your curiosity?

How often do you follow your curiosity? Do you jump in and go for it or do you hang back thinking about the poor dead cat?

This may sound a little morbid, but we all are going to die some day from something. Isn’t it better to spend our lives satisfying our curiosity, having adventures, being fulfilled, and being truly happy than to spend it being too afraid to live?

I think we should enjoy ourselves while we can.

If you aren’t used to being curious and seeing where it gets you, try it. The next time you are curious about something, act on that curiosity. You won’t know what you are missing out on until you do.  You could be missing out on the best things.

Are You Curious?

I know Jimmy Hendrix would ask “Are you experienced?” but I want to know “Are you curious?”

The experience comes later. First you have to be curious.

* * * * *

Delisa Carnegie is the leader of The Creativity Rebellion. She spends her days creating, crafting, teaching people how to fist pump like Billy Idol and kick zombee ass at www.thecreativityrebellion.com. Follow her on Twitter @delisacarnegie or email her at delisa@thecreativityrebellion.com.

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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.

Testing Ground


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In Nova’s “Car of the Future,” which I watched recently on PBS, one of the technologies profiled was hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that are being tested in Iceland.

Iceland prides itself on helping to improve this technology by testing it every day. Says Jon Björn Skúlason of Icelandic New Energy, Ltd., “You go to a small society like Iceland, where a lot of things are simpler than in a big society like the US or Europe, you can actually test things out here. That’s actually how we think we can help the world (emphasis mine).”

Hmm. That made me wonder: If that’s true of a small society like Iceland, is the same thing true for small organizations? How can small organizations help the world by testing ideas, processes and technologies?

Please tell me what you think!

Follow-up for Superheroes in Training -or- Curiosity is a Super Power


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I recently had the great good fortune to have a guest-post published at www.redhotmomentum.com, a website for small and/or nontraditional (“unhinged”) businesses.

I submitted it there because it is about Marketing, which really isn’t the focus of my website or my blog posts. But two of the people who followed up with me directly got me thinking, and one pointedly suggested a follow-up article. So here is that follow-up. I’m posting it here because it is not about Marketing so much as it is about Questions and Curiosity – two of my favorite subjects. (Go read the original post here. I’ll wait.)

Are you back? Great, here we go.

Those two people who reached out to me are both in full-time jobs. One wrote,

“I am struggling with similar things even though I am employed, switching careers definitely is as unsettling because I don’t have experience in what I want to do.”

The other wrote,

“I am that woman now and have not yet figured out how or where or a comfortable way to market myself. I keep hearing my family members saying ‘you better keep your job with benefits’ every time I even begin to want to market myself and then I back off.”

I thought about their predicaments, and what it was about my story that appealed to them. One thing is my struggle with the internal resistance I kept encountering. Another is the idea of the security that a full-time job offers – security that can be very difficult to leave behind. And yet another is the fear I described that no one would give me a try in my new role because I no longer wore my old cape.

To overcome those fears, I had to get curious about myself and ask myself a lot of questions about why I was getting in my own way.

And I realized that these two people were actually asking questions in addition to the ones in the original post. (What, you haven’t read it yet? Click here.)

• How do I quiet the voices of my family that tell me to choose security over following my dreams?

• How do I pursue my dream when I don’t have Real Experience in that area?

How do those questions go together? Are they, perhaps, the same question?

Confession Time

I didn’t voluntarily leave my last job – I was laid off. I had been thinking of making a change but I hadn’t done it, and circumstances made the decision for me. I didn’t decide to stop job hunting and embrace the uncertainty of hanging out my own shingle until after the severance had run out and I really began to think about the possibilities and, more importantly, to see a completely different set of possibilities.

But the fears are still the same.

That said, let me try to address their questions.

Beliefs

Here is the thing about family members and friends (and their voices that take up residence in our heads): Is it possible that they love us and want the best for us, that they’re not TRYING to discourage or squish us? That they’re just wrong? Well-meaning but wrong?

I learned a very important lesson last year at a workshop led by Marcia Wieder. She talked about listening to the voice of my inner Doubter, and rather than trying to silence it, learning to determine whether the warning it is giving is a legitimate obstacle that needs to be overcome or an obsolete belief that can be released. (Willie Hewes and Alexia Petrakos also do a great job with this at the Monster Journals.)

And so when my Voice of Alarm said, “You’ll never make it on your own! Go get a Corporate Job with benefits!” I practiced asking questions like, “Do I have to find a new corporate job with benefits? Or can I find reasonably priced individual coverage at a risk level I can handle?” Mmm, guess what – I have individual coverage now. And then I was able to get to the bigger issue of my beliefs about whether I could really be a Superhero without someone else’s Cape of Authority.

Threads

Regarding making a Career Change, it occurs to me that the idea of threads is very important. As I mentioned in that other post, I have had a fascinating and fun variety of jobs in my life, and I never went from one job to another exactly like it. But there was always a thread that connected them. And even if Job A was very different from Job M, I could demonstrate that there were certain threads (skills, personality traits, work habits) that helped me to not only move from one role to the next but to be successful in all of them. (Such as, I’m a Builder. Not a Maintainer.)

Focus on the threads, the suspension bridge cables that bridge the gaps, not the gap itself. Spend time pouring the concrete footings, and acknowledge the gaps between them. But focus on the threads.

Questions – My Favorite Part!

So, here are some questions to add to those in that other post, especially for Superheroes who want to move from the Fantastic Four to the Justice League – or create a League of Their Own. (Wait, I think someone’s already used that. No worries, you can call it something else.)

• What are the concerns that your Doubter (or Monster) brings up?

• Are they real obstacles, or are they beliefs?

• If they are really potential obstacles, what are your options and resources for overcoming them?

• If they are beliefs, where did they come from? Are they still valid?

• If they’re no longer valid, can you release them?

• Have you done the same exact thing throughout your career?

• If not, what are the threads that connected your various roles?

• How are they applicable to your desired role?

• If your target role is really different from your current/past roles, what are the transferable skills, character traits, talents, etc., that apply to the target role – even if it is not a 1-to-1 fit?

Story Time

Once upon a time, when I was a recruiter, I sometimes found a candidate that I just knew was going to be successful – even if his or her background wasn’t a direct match with the dreaded Job Description. They might not have been an exact fit, but they had something, some Secret Sauce, some Super Power, that made them worth taking a risk on. Often it was The Stuff You Can’t Teach. Once I identified it, I was able to add that to the experience I presented to the hiring manager. And the hiring managers usually went for the people with The Stuff You Can’t Teach because they could, well, teach them the other stuff. But I had to be curious enough about the candidates to uncover it.

Curiosity is a Super Power

Curiosity is the key to answering to both of the questions at the top of this post.

Curiosity about myself has helped me to look at myself and figure out that I needed to set aside my reliance on my old cape and embrace my new cape.

Curiosity doesn’t only help us to solve problems and be more creative and play well with others. Curiosity also can be used to understand ourselves better.

And that makes it a pretty extraordinary Super Power.

Are you curious?

If you like this post, please share it with at least one other person, whether by email, Twitter, Facebook, or your carrier pigeon of choice. Thank you!

Low Hanging Fruit – Part II


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My spontaneous post on Low Hanging Fruit has spurred all kinds of additional thoughts, and the committee in my head has jumped into the debate. Warning: They have no fear of mixed metaphors or clichés. (Luckily no monsters have shown up. Yet.) So pull up a chair and enjoy some Humble Pie and Resistance Crumble.

Why do I overlook Low Hanging Fruit? Is it because it is almost too easy, and I love a good challenge? After all, that looks so easy, somebody else must have done it already. Or, maybe it looks so easy because it is and no one else will find it interesting?

Or, maybe it only looks easy to you because of your unique superpowers that you take for granted?

Maybe I overlook that Low Hanging Fruit because I can see it up close and I can see the spots and worm holes. But that beautiful shining apple way up at the top of the tree looks perfect from down here.

Yes, and haven’t you learned from experience yet that once you get close to it, That Apple Up There has just as many spots, if not more? The apple is always greener. (Wait, that’s a mixed metaphor.) You know what I mean. Anyway, you can wash off the spots and eat around the worm hole on the apple down here, right now.

Maybe what makes this Low Hanging Fruit hang so low is that it is a little heavier from the weight of needing some resources (as in, help from other people). And being a good Taurus who stubbornly thinks I have to do everything myself, I would rather, well, be stubborn. About Doing. It. Myself.

But wait, this person has already given you some great feedback, and that person has offered to be your proofreader, and that person is really excited about doing the graphic design. What makes you think you’re doing this alone? Or that you have to?

Besides, you’re going to need help building a ladder to get to the top of the tree to reach that supposedly perfect apple way up there. Why not accept the help now?

I’m afraid that what makes that Low Hanging Fruit spotted and wormy is that it is so personal. What if I pick that fruit and hand it to someone and they say, “Eew!”?

Your apples are beautiful and organic and the spots are part of their charm. People want your apples because they are personal. And that’s what makes them different from everyone else’s.

Oh, and one more thing. If you insist on leaving that Low Hanging Fruit, you’re Leaving Money On The Table and someone else is going to Eat Your Lunch! Don’t Throw Out the Baby With The Bath Water! Get picking!

Sigh. I hate it when you’re right.

This slice of Humble Pie was brought to you by the Low Hanging Fruit Pickers Association.

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