Well, as you all know, this past week, I traveled to Los Angeles (LA) to see my family. First time in an airport and on an airplane in over 15 months. It was, well, amazing.
I flew out of the Eugene airport, which is a small airport about 45 miles south of Corvallis, where I live, and is super easy to fly out of and into. The airport was not crowded at all. In fact, it was super slow, and the plane was only about half full. However….
Upon landing in Los Angeles, that all changed. LAX was super busy. In fact, when I finally made it to the rental car company, there were about 30 people ahead of me in line.
Now, I had two meetings that afternoon, yes, working while on my trip, so after waiting in the line for about 25 minutes, I chose to call an Uber and cancel my reservation. Was a good idea, as the line didn’t move much as I waited for the Uber driver.
It was great to see my mom, sisters, and nieces and nephews. Here are a couple things we did, while I was in LA.
Griffith Observatory and Hollywood
In the hills of LA there is the Griffith Observatory, which looks out over the city. Beautiful. Though the Observatory wasn’t open, you could walk around the grounds and take in all of the views. Here are some pics from our time at the Observatory, and our drive through Hollywood.
A High School Graduation
It was wonderful to see my niece graduate High School on my trip. I was surprised to see so many people, and, well, not surprised. It was a lovely ceremony. Here are some pics of the graduation.
After graduation, we went to the Lazy Dog restaurant, which I had never been to. The food was excellent, and the service was outstanding.
Seal Beach and Taco Surf
On my last day in LA, we took my niece and nephew to the beach in Seal Beach. It was a lovely day, sunny, yet cool. The beach was not overcrowded, and the water was, well, rather cold, yet felt lovely. Here are some pics of the beach.
After spending some time at the beach, we went to a local restaurant I loved to patronize when I was living in LA and working in Seal Beach, Taco Surf; and then stopped in a local bakery, Sweet Jill’s, delicious. Excellent food.
Utmost Feelings, Coming Soon!
About two months ago now, I learned that Astha, of Writing feels good, passed away. I learned of this very sad news from our dear friend Cindy, of Unique Times. Cindy’s post talked about Astha’s Anthology that was being carried forward by Navin, of Navin’s Poetry.
I immediately visited Navin’s blog, and left a message. Navin responded very quickly, and asked for a poem, and said he would speak with the publishers, True Dreamster, about the possibility of making a late addition.
I was astonished and honored when they accepted the poem I shared with Navin. I am so honored to be a part of the beautiful Utmost FeelingsAnthology. The Anthology is full of wonderfully inspirational poets, and is a beautiful tribute to Astha.
Thanks again, to Navin, True Dreamster, and all of the poets in Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings.
Please visit the True Dreamster Instagram page, when you have a moment, and share the news about Utmost Feelings. Thank you.
Here are all of the co-authors of Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings.
Godly pure clay they came, shaped then crafted by environmental ruptures, connected to Spirit, adjacent to our home world, this molded fabric weaves, through the veil of amnesia.
Cloaked in a brocade of vibrant colors and images of another place and paradigm, as we left that ruptured line and connection for a time.
Mirroring parental behaviour, in the earthly realm, observative as they are, education brings the moment we see children as innately wise and capable beings; only then can we play along in their world.
Fitting into God’s plan, to be of service to the divine.
Shine a light on all that you find within, which came prior to the social necessities laid bare before you. Reconnection with Truth is one of the greatest gifts we can deliver to ourselves, and all the rest of the fauna and flora we find everywhere.
Breaking the chains of illusion necessitate the familiarization with the Atman, residing within the chambers of the heart.
Seeded offspring from the universal intelligence, when you utter, leave an impression on the young, allowing them to embody and fully love who they have become.
To see the magical in the all and be the teachers of the old by remembering what you already know, which lives within, and is free and clear.
Another lovely collaboration between Amber of DiosRaw and myself. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did writing it!
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon purpose, which I’ll write more about in a moment, and planning in the unknown, which will be the topic of a post, well, I’m not sure when, yet will get to it eventually.
Before we get to my reflection on purpose, let’s take a look at a couple writing reflections.
Writing and Reflecting
The poem Mind was, as you may have already surmised, a reflection on my meditation practice. A large part of my life today. It is a beautiful experience, to sit and watch as the mind does it’s thing, and to become detached from it’s activity. It is also a wonder to sit and watch as your mind, over time, begins to slow and become more quiet. Magical.
The Mind poem was also my first foray into the Hexastich poetry style. I learned about this poem style, like many others, from a lovely blogger friend of mine. I’ve written another poem in this style already, and will have more to share in the coming weeks and months.
The poem Gift was a reflection of the many things I’ve learned in the past 4 years, as I’ve learned to go within from my life coach and teacher. It’s been difficult and one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
And, like I write often, this nexus of the difficult and wonderful, a paradox (and not), is where the jewels of life live. When we slow down, go within, really get to know ourselves, we get back so much more. Beautiful.
As you may know, yesterday I posted The Dance Dances A Life of Its Own, which was a collaboration with Amber of DiosRaw. As a relatively new blogger, I’ve only done one other collaboration, which was the post, Vulnerability: A Paradox, with Maja of Lampelina.
Amber and I created the poem this past week, with the former, sending emails back and forth throughout the creative process. Was superb. A wonderful experience.
With the latter, I submitted a request to do a guest post on Lampelina, and Maja reached out to me to do so. Was also a great experience.
A lot of fun all-around.
There is another collaboration, of a different kind, coming soon, with another inspiring blogger. I’ll have more on that in the future.
I love the concept of, and practice of, collaboration. You learn so much more when you work with other people. It is by far one of my favorite things to do in this life, collaborate with inspirational people. I’ve been very lucky to have had these opportunities and many others in various areas of my life; and, I look forward to future ones.
While I’ve written on purpose before, it is a concept and practice that I reflect upon, well, not quite often, yet it does come up now and then. This week, purpose has come up in regard to planning inside of the unknown.
There was a time in my life where I continually questioned my purpose. Was in fact, confounded by the idea of purpose. Maybe even a little afraid of the concept.
However, today, I accept my truth in regard to purpose. That, in fact, each moment we are alive, we can find our purpose in, well, exactly what it is that we are doing. Right now, typing this end of the week diary entry. In the next moment? Don’t know, it doesn’t exist yet.
What I am pointing to, is that purpose lives inside of us. Purpose is a concept that we attach meaning to, just like every other concept. If you believe that purpose needs to look and feel a certain way, and you don’t see or feel what you are looking for, well, then you’ll have a hard time finding your purpose.
However, if you believe that purpose lives within, and lives in each moment every day, doing exactly as you are already doing, well, there’s nothing to find. Your purpose is readily apparent in each moment everyday.
We can all develop an awareness of purpose that is different from the current one we hold. It just takes practice. Practice letting go of the concept of purpose as we understand it today, and learning a new way to think about and feel purpose.
Remember, purpose is first and foremost a concept. It is not a living breathing thing. We breathe life into the concept of purpose, as we do all concepts, when we give life to it by attaching meaning, which we create, to the concept.
And, just as we breathe life into the concept of purpose as we do today, we can learn a new way to breathe a different life into a new concept of purpose.
It is up to you, me, and everyone else; and, well, that’s quite empowering.
The past two weeks I’ve been reflecting more upon patience and asking for help. The more people I meet, the more I realize just how important developing patience is, as is the ability to recognize when we need help.
Often people mistakenly believe that asking for help is, in some way, a demerit, or means they are in some way deficient. I would like to dispel this notion now.
When we ask for help, we are recognizing a limit, for the moment, to either what we know, or are capable of doing. It does not mean that we are deficient. In fact, it means the opposite.
Meaning that when we recognize a limit within ourselves, we immediately get to grow that limit to a new level. And, in that moment we are courageous. Many of the greatest leaders of all time recognize and celebrate this fact.
Here is a great quote from Barack Obama about asking for help.
Asking for Help 101
As I reflect upon times when asking for help was more difficult for me, I considered a few strategies that may be helpful for those that, like me, continue to see the action of asking for help as a developmental opportunity.
Start small – when asking for help, you can start small. Start by thinking about the areas in your work or life that you would either like to learn more about, or could use assistance with. For instance, when I first started to open up to the idea of asking for help, I would ask people to assist me with pieces of projects that fit their skill set. When you can ask someone for help, and give them a piece of work that excites or inspires them, it makes the process of asking for help a little easier.
Begin with people you already trust – one of the reasons I shied away from asking for help was because I was concerned about looking incompetent, which is a simple thinking error. When we don’t ask for help, and we try to do everything on our own is, in fact, when incompetence will be seen and felt. However, one way to allay the fear of looking incompetent by asking for help, is to ask someone you already know and trust.
Make it a healthy habit – the only way to really make asking for help stick in your life, is to do it regularly. Simply meaning, that creating a healthy habit of asking for help when needed, will continue to push you outside of your comfort zone. However, the more you ask for help, the less uncomfortable it will feel.
There are three simple strategies you can use to begin to ask people for help. Remember, we are always getting help from people around us, always. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all connected and interdependent. Yep, true.
As we have discussed, asking for help is a courageous act. Yet, people continue to see asking for help as something that is a weakness. Let’s continue to bust this myth, shall we? Good. Here we go.
A Strength Not A Weakness
Here are a few more reasons why asking for help is needed and necessary, and should be considered a strength not a weakness.
Relationships – when we ask someone for help, we are acknowledging that relationships matter to us. That, in fact, we are vulnerable enough to say, “you know, I don’t know.” Important. When we are vulnerable in our relationships, and that vulnerability is reciprocated, our relationships become deeper and more meaningful.
Connection – when we learn to ask for help, we become more open. More open to asking people we don’t know for help. As we pursue asking people we don’t know for help, we create the opportunity to meet new people; and, to deepen our connection with our own humanity, and the humanity of others.
Collaboration – as we practice asking for help, we learn that this practice becomes a strength. We learn that asking for help is essential in order to really collaborate with other people. No true collaboration exists without asking for help. Simple.
Synergy – as we begin to collaborate more, we realize that inside of true collaboration exists a very powerful concept, called synergy. Synergy occurs when people are aligned, work together, and help each other. When you work on a team that has synergy, you are able to innovate and execute inside of any situation. Why? Because you’ve learned to ask for help. You’ve learned that asking questions, and asking for help is an essential part of being a human being.
Alright, there are a few more reasons why asking for help is needed and necessary, and why asking for help is a real strength.
If you’re not used to asking for help. Don’t worry. Try some of the strategies listed above in asking for help 101; and remember, when we ask for help, we are admitting, yes, we don’t know something, or need assistance in completing something. And, guess what?
We all don’t know many things; and, we all need assistance getting things done. We do. It’s not a demerit. It’s the opposite.
Asking for help is a sign of courage and a sign of your inner strength.
A 3-minute Reflection on 4 Things Every Leader Can Do to Create Safety on Teams
Well, we are 9-months into a pandemic, actually much more than 9-months, yet, here locally, 9-months ago was when the restrictions started. And?
I’ve been thinking about and reflecting upon just how important creating safety on teams is all the time; and, now? Even more important.
Developing safety within a team creates a context where possibilities abound. Meaning, when people feel safe, there is trust, and where there is trust, well, anything is possible. Seriously. Anything. And, now?
Living inside the pandemic for the past 9-months has been unsettling in many ways. Though I’ve written about, and we’ve discussed many times before, how much more there is to know and learn, than is known.
It is equally true that when the foundation of someone’s belief system is shaken, it can be really hard, and can make people begin to question what they thought they knew about how the world works.
Meaning that for some people, they already know there is much more to know than they know, and now what they thought they knew has been up-ended. Hard.
Right, so what can we do? How can we make sure to continue to create safety on teams so people feel like they have solid ground to stand on? Good questions. Let’s take a look at 4 ways we can do just that.
Have you ever heard about managing the real and ideal? Yes, no? Either way, it simply means that when in a leadership role it is important to always strive for an ideal, think vision, while being very clear on the current reality.
Basically you are managing the tension between what is and what you are creating. Super important. Why?
Because even though the current reality might be hard to hear, people need confirmation that what they are seeing, thinking, and feeling is accurate. The very last thing they need is false hope. Nope. They need reality.
When you stand in the current reality, there is workability. Why? Because when you are clear and the team is clear, you can continue to create the ideal free from the distraction, what if.
You will get more focus, concentration, and organization when you are clear on the current reality while continuing to create the ideal future state. More focus, concentration, and organization from yourself and the team.
We all know how important it is to listen. Very important. There might not be a more important leadership skill. Seriously. This is especially true when times are stressful.
People need someone they can come to, someone they can depend upon. Someone that is going to be present, listen, and give honest feedback. They need that, their team members need that, and, as the leader, you need that. From? From each of them. Yep.
There is immense power in being present and being an active listener.
Active listening simply means being mindful in your conversations. Be present, pay attention, empathize, and use your conversational skills to really understand, take in, and respond in kind to the person you are talking to. Important.
You will get much more back when you practice and coach people to practice active listening. More for yourself, for your teammates, and the entire team. When people really listen, they know what’s going on with their teammates, which makes for a much more productive work environment.
When the team understands the current reality and the ideal state you are creating, is practicing active listening, the likelihood for collaboration increases. Why?
Because when people feel comfortable, are able to focus, and know how their teammates feel and what they think, they are immediately more approachable. And, when we are more approachable, collaboration is just easier.
And, what do you get when your team is able to collaborate more effectively? Yep. Innovation.
When your team works together, there is a synergy that occurs, and inside of that synergy, you get ideas that take the team further. You don’t get these types of synergistic innovations from silos. Just doesn’t happen.
Of course, you cannot create an ideal reality from a very clearly defined current reality without taking action. Nope. Not possible.
Actually, the coolest thing about creating an ideal, and generating all of the innovative ideas, is seeing them executed upon. Amazing. It is one of the things I love the most about working on teams.
Yep, it is so much fun to create, and, yes, I am very creative. Yet, it is equally beautiful and fun to watch the transformation of what can be months of innovative work into a new system, process, program, training, or class. Really.
Wow, that was fun.
Alright, remember, creating safety on teams is a powerful leadership skill. Truly.
As we discussed, creating safety ensures that people can feel comfortable in the current reality, even a very stressful one, while continuing to strive for the ideal reality.
Practicing and modeling active listening also fosters safety by creating a context of respect and mindfulness, while collaboration and taking action ensures that the bridge between innovation and execution is clearly articulated and navigated.
And, when the bridge between innovation and execution is clear and ideas are being executed upon, the team will feel a sense of accomplishment, which increases the team’s morale and feelings of security and safety.
Creating safety on teams may be one of the most important things a leader can do, especially during times that are more stressful and unknown. The ability for everyone to feel safe is that important.
I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.
Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.
Why is leadership such an important concept?
Why is it so important to practice?
Why is it important to understand?
What are the types of leadership?
Why are there so many types?
What’s the right type for me?
How do I become a leader?
And? Oh, there are so many more.
Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.
Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.
Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.
Leadership as Leading People
Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.
The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.
In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?
It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.
Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.
How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.
Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.
However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?
That confusion will seep out into all that we do.
We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.
Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?
Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.
You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?
Creating leadership symmetry
What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
What do you value and why?
Why are you the person you are today?
Why do you do what you do?
Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?
Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.
Leadership as a Position
Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.
Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?
You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.
It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.
One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?
It’s hard. Very hard.
When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?
Get clear on you
Why are you a leader?
What do you value in leadership?
What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
What change do you want to create?
I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.
Understanding your leadership style.
And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.
Leadership as Characteristics
There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?
Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.
Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.
Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.
Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.
Leadership as Life
I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.
If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.
Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.
Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.
I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.
Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.
Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.
In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.
And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.
Hm. At this moment, I’m actually quite surprised about how similar these definitions are. More similar than I would have even predicted.
Do you see it? Either way, it’s okay, let’s take a deeper look at both courage and humility and see what we get.
7 Things You Can do to Develop Courage and Humility
As I’ve written about previously, people often mistakenly believe that there are people that have courage and there are people that don’t. Like it is a developmental trait that some have and others don’t.
However, courage is like any other skill set. Meaning that it can be developed. Yep, it’s true. And, guess what? As you develop courage, you also develop humility. Yep, also true.
Here, then, are 7 ways you can develop courage.
Develop a growth mindset – meaning, be available and open to learning all there is to learn. When you have a growth mindset you realize that there is much more to learn than is known, and you are eager to learn. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. Meaning unavailable and closed to learning. Think flexible versus rigid. When we are flexible, we go with the flow, receive what others have to give us, and then we give what we have back to them. When we are eager to develop a growth mindset, courage follows because contexts where growth mindsets flourish are about development and transformation.
Grow your comfort zone – continuing to practice getting outside of your comfort zone is important. Important to your development, and to the development of courage. When we are outside of our comfort zone, in that moment, we are doing and modeling courage.
Embrace and practice vulnerability – I’ve written several articles recently about vulnerability. Like your comfort zone, when you embrace your own vulnerability and practice being vulnerable, you are immediately being courageous. And, guess what? The more you practice vulnerability, the more courageous you become.
Practice collaboration – collaborative contexts are naturally vulnerable contexts as they are about being open and flexible, learning, and development. When you are collaborating, really collaborating, you are practicing courage; and, the more collaborative contexts you engage in, the more courageous you will become.
Create innovation – innovation and courage go hand in hand. They have to, because innovative contexts are imbued with vulnerability, growth, collaboration, and transformation. Innovative contexts are courageous in nature. The more innovation you create, the more you are being courageous, and the more your courage will grow.
Take risks – though humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking is needed and necessary. Taking risks ensures you develop into the iteration of yourself where you can give the most back to the world. Really. Because humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking feels scary, so when you take risks you will develop courage. The more risk, the more courage will develop.
Face your fears – every human on this planet is afraid. Yes, there is a continuum of fearfulness, yet know that you are not alone in being fearful of things. Fear is a natural part of being a human. However, when you face your fears, you develop courage. And, like risk-taking, or any of the others on this list, the more you face your fears, the more courageous you will become.
Alright, there we have 7 ways you can develop courage. Now, let’s make the connection to humility, shall we.
Here then are
7 Reasons Why Developing Courage Will Also Develop Your humility
Growth mindset – as you develop a growth mindset, you will become more present to just how little humans really know; and, conversely, just how much there is to learn. It is vast, and humbling.
Comfort zones – getting outside of your comfort zone is hard work. Really. At times, very hard. As you get outside of your comfort zone, you will realize how tiring and depleting it can be. Rewarding absolutely, and very, very tiring, and humbling.
Vulnerability – being vulnerable is extremely hard. Of all the items on this list, maybe the hardest. Oftentimes, just being vulnerable once in a different way will cause you to experience great humility.
Collaboration – connecting with other human beings through true collaboration is lovely, and is also an experience where you get to see other humans in action, being vulnerable, developing themselves in new ways, being courageous, taking risks, and transforming. It is a wondrous sight, and very humbling.
Innovation – any and all innovation is humbling. Just the idea of creating something new is a humbling experience. When I created the first iteration of this site, which took a long time, and was totally out of my range of expertise, I was tremendously humbled by the experience.
Risk-taking – like being vulnerable, taking risks is scary. And, if you take risks often, especially while working alongside others, you will experience a whole new level of humbleness.
Fears – facing our fears is extremely difficult; and, when you face them often, you become more humble. You sort of wake up to the reality that facing fears is hard for everyone, so when you witness someone do it, it can actually bring tears to your eyes. Shared humanity.
Alright, there are 7 ways you can develop courage, and 7 reasons why developing courage will also result in more humility.
In the event you’ve been wondering, I picked the introduction picture intentionally. Why?
Because developing courage by doing any of the 7 listed above is about being in action, doing things, living your life the best way you know how by giving your all every day.
Sometimes people conflate courage with iconic pictures of the hero saving the day, which is very dramatic. Yet, I want to offer you a different way to think about courage.
Courage is about being human. Recognizing our fears, the current limits of our knowledge, and doing something to face them, and grow ourselves. When we recognize where we have opportunities to develop, we can then take the necessary actions to create opportunities for ourselves to grow.
And, yes, if you like, to even transform. What does it take?
A willingness to set aside the ego, a little at a time, one step at a time, and take a different action. Take an action you’ve never taken before, and see what you get back. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.
Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.
Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?
Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates
Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.
The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.
Ready? Very well, let’s go.
Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.
When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.
When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.
Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.
Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.
I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.
Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.
Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.
Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.
When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.
Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clari