Tag Archives | Questions

The Amazing Question

This morning I received a newsletter from Chris Brogan (if you don’t know him, you can find him here and here) with the subject line, “Do you live by a manifesto?”

Funny you should ask that, I thought. After reading a variety of manifestos in the last couple of years, I was moved by a few but never wrote one.

Then, this past Spring I asked myself this question:

“What would you do if you really believed in yourself?”

I don’t remember what prompted it. But I started writing, and out came a pretty amazing statement.

So amazing that I typed it, made it pretty, and printed it out. I put it in my office and in my bedroom where I could see it and read it frequently.

Sometimes it becomes wallpaper, but I consciously go back and re-read it for courage and direction when I get lost.

“What would you do if you really believed in yourself?”

I wrote to Chris and told him about it, and sent him my manifesto. To my surprise, he responded almost immediately, saying “What an amazing question!!!”

It is an amazing question. It’s also a hellish question, and a heavenly question. It is heavenly and hellish because once I answered I could no longer hide.

Side note for Word Geeks

Here’s a thing I learned about writing a Manifesto. It’s based on the word “manifest.”

Seems kind of obvious, but it’s not. And it’s important.

If you look at the various definitions of the verb “manifest,” they boil down to an important idea: To make something visible. To make something real.

I asked myself a big question and answered it from my soul. As soon as I did, as soon as I made it real, teachers started appearing, doors started appearing, and opportunities started appearing.

And then…

And then something awful happened.

I realized how long I had been hiding.

That’s so big that I can hardly breathe as I write it. (And my pen ran out of ink as I wrote it. Hm.)

I realized how long I had been hiding, and that I no longer could. (I admit it’s a hard habit to break. But it’s possible.)

It is awful, and terrifying. And wonderful. Awe Full.

Are you curious?

If you’re still reading, you’re probably curious. Here it is.

Click Here for the Manifesto

Come and get it!

As I said, as soon as I made it real, teachers started appearing, doors started appearing, and opportunities started appearing. And I started getting tested. (Have you ever heard the proverb, “Never pray for patience, because you’ll get it and then it will be tested”? Like that.)

But I’m up to the test. Even though it’s scary. And I know you are, too.

“What would you do if you really believed in yourself?”

Would you like to answer this amazing question for yourself? Would you like to do it in the company of others?

You’re invited

to an evening workshop on Thursday, September 27th. Because the lessons I learn aren’t meant just for me.

Come and answer this Amazing Question, this amazing, hellish, heavenly question, for yourself – in the company of others. (There’s safety in numbers!)

Your answer to this question can open doors and provide you with a vital roadmap. I will create a space in which we will pause and listen, lead the process of answering the question, facilitate the sharing of the answers with the group, and facilitate work on what to do about it.

Are you ready?

Are you curious?

The Amazing Question Evening

Thursday, September 27th 2012

7:00pm – 9:00pm PDT

390 Diablo Road, #115 Danville, CA


Attend live or via Skype

Attendance is limited to 20 participants

Please join me!

It’s time to move from the maze to Amazing.

Images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thank you, Chris, for permission to use your name in this post!

Question of the Week: Am I an Antique?

She was standing in the Kitchen Utensils aisle of the grocery store with a Courtesy Clerk, all 4’11” of her the picture of elegance with her beautifully coiffed white hair and black coat. Both of them were scanning the wall of gadgets for a citrus juicer.

“The Checker said she sold one the other day,” the clerk said, “so I know we have them.”

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?” she asked. “It has a dome that pushes the juice out.”

I had trouble picturing her juicing an orange, standing there in her Going Shopping outfit.

Attempting to be helpful, I butted in. “Perhaps there are some in Produce, by the oranges.”

“I’ll go check,” the clerk said and immediately trotted off, looking relieved.

She took my arm, a total stranger, my reward for butting in. The top of her head barely came to my shoulder.

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, Dear?” We slowly followed the clerk toward Produce, and she shook her head. “No one seems to do anything by hand anymore.”

When we arrived in Produce, the clerk held up two juicers, looking very pleased with himself.

“I found two,” he said, proudly. One was a simple wooden reamer; the other looked like a big yellow nutcracker.

“What would you do with that?” she wondered, pointing at the big yellow gizmo.

“You put half an orange in this side,” the clerk said, “and squeeze the two sides together.”

“I just want one with the dome on the little dish to catch the juice,” she said, drawing it with her hands and pantomiming pressing an orange down with a twist.

“You might look at a…” Oh dear, a little DANGER sign started flashing in my head. I couldn’t say, “antique store.” That would be calling her old. (Which she was.)

“…collectibles store,” I finished. “I’ve seen them there.” Whew, I thought, got out of that one.

“Collectibles store?” She gave me a blank look. “What’s that?”

Sigh. “You know, an, um, antique store,” I whispered.

Oh,” she said. “Am I an antique?”

“Never mind, Dear,” she said to the clerk, “Thank you for looking.” She took my arm again and steered me toward the checkout stand.

Fearing I had insulted her, I looked for something to say. “I hate seeing things I grew up with at antique stores,” I said. (See? I thought. I’m not old and they sell things I used at antique stores, too.) “I saw my roller skates at an antique store, and I thought, ‘That’s just not right.’”

“Don’t worry, Dear,” she said, patting my hand. “Things at antique stores are usually quite expensive. You should feel flattered.”

I had to chuckle as we tottered along. Suddenly she was trying to make me feel better. Everything is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

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Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Curiosity or Nosiness? Another Good Question with a Surprising Answer

“I’m just not comfortable asking personal questions. I won’t do it.”

This is a real problem for someone whose work involves providing solutions to people, making products available that will protect and help them. Selling.

But without asking questions, how can you know how to help someone, what product or service they need?

“This is something a LOT of people struggle with,” I said. “I think and talk and write a lot about curiosity and it’s place in business and life.

“So let me ask you question,” I said.

“Is there a difference between Curiosity and Nosiness? If there is, what is it?”

She thought for a minute, then her face lit up.

“I know!” she said. “Nosiness is when I ask a question like (she leaned over conspiratorially), ‘What’s your bra size?’ It makes me feel better about myself.

“Curiosity is when I ask a question that’s about you, that can help. There’s genuine interest. But nosiness is when I ask a question just to make me feel good about myself, to make me feel Better Than You.

“Is that the Right Answer?” she asked.

“I don’t think there is a Right Answer,” I replied, impressed. “But I think it’s an excellent answer.”

In that moment, she gave herself permission to use her natural curiosity to help her clients, and she gave me a new way of looking at curiosity.

I love my job…

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Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Surprising Power of Asking Good Questions

Once upon a time…

I was working with a client who was experiencing some challenges with his interpersonal skills, especially with people with whom he was unfamiliar. (Who among us has not faced that challenge at one time or another?)

After working with him and observing him for a while, I gave him this assignment: Today, focus on making eye contact with people. That’s all. Just look them in the eye.

At the end of the day we debriefed, and I asked him: Did you pay attention to making eye contact with people? “Yes,” he said.

How did it feel? I asked.

“It felt like I knew them.”

* P O W *

That answer literally stopped me in my tracks.

It wasn’t the answer I expected. I expected to hear “It was uncomfortable,” or “It was really hard,” or “It was easier than I expected,” or “It got easier with time.”


“It felt like I knew them.”

I am so glad I asked that question. I could have asked him something easy, like “How did it go?” To which a typical answer would have been “Fine.” It would have taken more questions to get to something useful.

But by asking a different question, I got a very different answer.

One that surprised both of us.

One that gave us a lot more to think and talk about.

“How did it feel?”

“It felt like I knew them.”

What a beautiful idea.

This conversation taught me something important about asking the right question. It taught me that when I ask the right question, amazing things can happen. Things that make both parties look at things differently.

I actually knew that. But it’s lovely to be reminded.

Ask questions.

Ask questions that are different than the usual questions.

Think of a question, then think of that question one level deeper.

You might be surprised by the answers you get.

And isn’t that wonderful?

Photo Credit:

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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To learn more about the power of asking good questions,
contact me: susan at susanTblake . com

Captains Curious: The Practice of Curiousity

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

I’ve been asking questions my whole life

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

I’ve been asking questions my whole life.

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

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

I want to know.

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

No surprise really; this is how my life works.

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

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

Where did your curiousity go?

When did you stop asking questions of yourself and others?

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

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

Yes, I’m serious. Practice asking questions.

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

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

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

You can practice!

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

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

Ask questions about the future:

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

Ask reframing questions:

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

Ask questions to debrief:

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

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

Why? Because questions reliably shift focus and energy.

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

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

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

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

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

Curious about how this might work?

Let’s experiment this week.

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

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

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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

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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.

Caregiving, Rhetorical Questions, Compassion, and… Curiosity

In which the Universe says, “Oh, you’re ready to start talking about Caregiving? Great, here’s another chance…”

My last blog post was about Caregiving, and soon after I published it I found myself plunged into another Caregiving situation.

For one of my cats.

And I was amazed – appalled, actually – at the impact it had on me.

I made decisions, I gave her medicine and did all the things the vet told me to do, and I did the other things that needed doing. And yet…

I was a wreck. I was on the verge of tears much of the time. I had trouble concentrating. I worried – What if I had to put her to sleep? How much was this going to cost? Should I postpone my trip to Seattle? Was I giving her good enough care? Was I neglecting my other cat?

And I wondered…

How did I ever manage to be caregiver to my late husband and work full-time and maintain some semblance of composure and concentration, and professionalism at work?

Maybe, I thought, my composure and concentration at the time weren’t as good as I thought. I remember sobbing in the shower before going to work. I remember praying for help, for strength, for patience, for guidance. I remember feeling like I could never do enough, never do it well enough.

I talked to a friend

I talked to a friend of mine about this, a friend who happens to be a licensed therapist and a coach. She also, it turns out, has done Bereavement Counseling. She asked if she could tell me what she thought.

I said yes. (And I appreciated that she asked.)

She said that when I was caring for Bruce, I was probably in Emergency Mode. I did what had to be done. With Abby, the stakes are different. (I also had time to prepare, in Bruce’s case, like the metaphor about the frog in hot water.)

She also said that there may be an element of Post Traumatic Stress, and that this situation is triggering reactions from when Bruce was sick, reactions I often didn’t let myself feel at the time.

Pretty smart, isn’t she?

I lightened up on myself

So I lightened up on myself. It didn’t change the emotions I was feeling, or the trouble I was having concentrating, but I started allowing myself to feel it without judging myself for it. Not beating myself up for not being perfectly composed and competent.

I remembered something I already knew

And in thinking about the questions I’ve been asking myself and the universe, I realized something. Or remembered something I already knew, but now understand in a different way:

There are productive questions and unproductive questions.

Rhetorical questions like “Why can’t you…” and “How could you…” are whips.

Asking rhetorical questions is not practicing Curiosity, it is whipping.

Asking why something is happening is curiosity if I am really looking for the answer and not beating myself (or someone else) up with a belief.

Rhetorical questions are not born of curiosity.

Rhetorical questions are not really questions at all, as they are not looking for an answer, they provide an excuse to state an answer that is usually a belief – and is frequently a negative one.

Sometimes the wording is important, but more often the intent and the emphasis are key.

For example…

Rhetorical Question: How did I EVER manage to be a competent caregiver to my husband when I am such a wreck about a cat?

Answer: Ha, you only thought you were competent caregiver. You really suck at caregiving – for people and cats.

Curious Question: How DID I ever manage to be a competent caregiver to my husband when I am such a wreck about a cat?

Answer: That’s a good question. You rose to the occasion, and even though you cried and you prayed and you felt like you floundered through uncharted territory, you did what needed to be done. Maybe not perfectly, but well. Well enough. Maybe it only feels worse because it also brings up memories from before.

Hmmm. Curiosity not only honestly seeks an answer, but it holds hands with compassion.

I thought I knew that, but I guess I forgot.

Or maybe some lessons in this (hopefully upward) spiral of life are learned over and over.

And so I offer you this: When the voices in your head are asking you questions, hit the Pause button and ask yourself whether they think they already know the answer, or are they honestly looking for an answer? Are they open to a different answer?

And if you find yourself asking questions of other people, hit the pause button. Do you really want to find an answer? Or are you just trying to make a point?

Applying curiosity to the issue, and to our behavior, can change everything.

Note: Abby is recovering and I am regaining (?) my sanity. She is scheduled to have her stitches removed tomorrow, and hopefully life will return to some semblance of normalcy.

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Captains Curious: Meeting Resistance

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

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.


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.


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 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.


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.”


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.

Intentional Overflow

This morning I was on a weekly conference call with a handful of friends who are also entrepreneurs in helping professions. As always, it was a rich conversation. Today we touched on many interrelated topics, including priorities, questioning how we define “productivity,” setting boundaries, keeping commitments to ourselves, and fun.

In other words, a typical conversation!

During the conversation I was reminded of an exercise I had gone through with another group of friends. We had gathered for a monthly potluck dinner, and each of us had been asked to bring our favorite cup or mug. The hostess had prepared a large punch-bowl full of water, and she led us through a meditation in which she poured water into our cups until they were overflowing. She asked us to consider this question:

What are you willing to let flow out of your life in order to let something new flow in?


So, today I asked myself these questions:

What activities am I willing to stop doing to make time (or energy) for different activities?

What commitments, relationships, or partnerships no longer serve their purpose or do not serve both sides equally?

What beliefs do I hold that keep me from moving forward, that I can release to make room for beliefs that make progress possible?


I am willing to stop breaking commitments to myself and protect my time for writing.

I am willing to release certain partnerships that have run their course to make more time and energy available for personal growth and projects in other areas.

I am willing let go of the belief that people want to pay me for my services out of charity, just to help me build my business, and make room for the belief that what I do is really valuable to them.

Letting go can be hard, but when the time is right it can be very easy.

What about you? Please tell me in the comments:

What are you willing to let flow out of your life in order to let something new flow in?

Image: Darren Robertson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Captains Curious: The Reactivation of My Imagination

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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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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