Great Leaders Color Outside The Lines

Last Updated: August 31, 2020

Curiosity: A Leadership Superpower

We live in a world that celebrates knowing yet we have to grow comfortable with not knowing, and being okay with being wrong. Many of us – perhaps you, too – lose a sense of curiosity along the way for a variety of reasons:

  • Many organized religions shame those who ask questions.
  • More than a few families discourage honest dialogue and personal agency.
  • Schools, to keep order intact, encourage staying in the box and coloring within the lines.

Regurgitating answers is rewarded more than asking questions. You may be the smartest person in the room but really? Who cares? Put that mantle down and find another room. A room that is not impressed because you are the smartest but will be inspired because you have done the tough inner work enough to be curious, open, and willing.

Sir Ken Robinson died earlier this week. We lost a profound thinker whose TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is widely acclaimed. His major premise: we don’t live up to our potential because we are educated to behave, be dutiful, sit in our seats, accept authority, worship grades, and cultivate perfection. Many children and teens are afraid of making mistakes and are often shamed into silence as opposed to being alive with questions.

These children and teens, afraid of ruffling feathers, turn into parents who require control and leaders who don’t speak truth to bullshit.

If I could tell my 20-year-old self anything it would be damn the torpedoes, double-down on learning about yourself, and create a path forward that’s rooted in curiosity ‐ because great leadership is about coloring outside of the lines.

Rockin’ Curiosity

Are you willing to join the leaders more interested in awakening than knowing? To awaken with curiosity and push yourself out of the lines you have to let go of the:

  • desire to be right
  • fear of failure
  • comfort of the known
  • need for control

Recently I facilitated a roundtable discussion on the superpower of curiosity. The leaders, around the table, were being encouraged to actively lead with curiosity. We chatted, ratted ourselves out, and shared stories about how connections with ourselves and others were deepening as we show up with curiosity and the things that often ride shotgun:

  • The ability to listen deeply
  • Empowering questions
  • A self-deprecating, authentic sense of humor
  • An irreverent attitude
  • The knowledge that saying “I don’t know” is an act of self-confidence
  • Resilience and grit
  • Vulnerability and transparency

Despite how scary it might feel as we push ourselves out from worshipping certainty, curiosity gives us permission to question everything: ourselves, the way our families behave, religious beliefs, business models, and our boundaries.

So be curious about yourself … and others … and what is possible. Take a breath, go deep within, and speak your truth from a place of deep connection because as you learn to be more curious, others will respond in kind.

Straight up!

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