“Be curious, not judgmental.”
I clicked “End Meeting,” flopped back in my chair, and let out a little scream. Loud enough to release the pressure, but not so loud that everyone in the house would come running.
I needed time to myself to sort out what had just happened.
The last hour had been an emotional rollercoaster.
First, I’d chosen to be extremely vulnerable with someone who has some of the business knowledge and experience I need to acquire to be a better CEO. They’d asked me a few questions in a questionnaire, reviewed my answers, and scheduled a meeting.
When I’d arrived all open-minded and -hearted, this person asked how I was. Harmless, until I answered and was immediately challenged about the lack of depth in my answer.
Oh, they want more. Okay… and I’d shared more, but my gut told me my answers were still falling short of what this person was waiting for.
Then, I’d said something. And it was all they needed to diagnose me out loud. Yes, diagnose me.
And you know what? They nailed it.
This individual’s intuition was exactly right about the deeper shadow work that had to be done before my next moves in business would matter.
Of course, this wasn’t news to me! I’d been working with these shadows and st*ries really intentionally for almost six months by that time.
I nodded my head and affirmed it. “Oh yeah, don’t I know it!”
And then I waited for the next question...
but it never came.
The rest of the conversation was focused on restating the diagnosis and finding ways to affirm its correctness in the answers I had provided in the questionnaire and during the meeting.
At one point, I interjected playfully to try to move the conversation in a supportive direction: “Yes, I am definitely clear that I’ve got those issues. If you don’t believe me, I’m happy to share a few lines from my journal about…” and I rattled off a few of the relationships and situations that I was working through at the time.
Maybe, if they had some more of this information, they could take me deeper.
But the questions I was expecting—you know, the ones coaches ask to help crack open possibilities you don’t know are there?—never unfolded.
In fact, with just a few minutes left of our meeting, I realized the only way I was going to get a breakthrough for myself was to ask them a question.
So, I did.
And you know what? I got an answer.
Thing is, it was an answer I already had.
Of course, the value of hearing it again, from someone who had experienced quite a bit of business success, was good enough for me to thank them for their time and get out of that Zoom room.
“I should have called Ted Lasso,” I murmured to myself as I pulled myself upright. “He didn't need to know about football to coach it; he could probably do the same thing in business. His genuine curiosity would have helped me more than some intuitive diagnosis!”
And it’s true.
There are A LOT of intuitive and empathic people in helping professions—teachers, coaches, therapists, social workers, doctors, etc.—whose intuition is absolutely necessary for them to do their best work in the world.
But intuition is not enough.
Would you feel comfortable with a medical doctor diagnosing you, without running any tests to make sure they were right?
Why would we treat another person’s soul, psyche, or emotions any other way?
What would happen if we followed our intuition that tells us, “This person seems to be hurting or stuck because of….” and then replaced the flood of assumptions and stories that our Mind always creates... with genuine Curiosity?
What if one or two genuine, assumption-free questions could…
• convey the care they crave
• settle their nervous system
• invite their brain to come back online
• communicate our belief in them to find their own answers
• empower them to take the next best step
Maybe even when we know,
it’s better to consider the possibility that
we don’t have ALL the answers,
and get curious instead.
Curiosity is a quality I've been working to preserve in my son, Aaron, since he was little.
If you've been around a baby, you know it's a natural state.
But if you've been around some adults like the one in this story, you know that it is often lost.
When Aaron was born, I was in no position to pretend I knew anything of consequence, so I decided to experience the world through his curious eyes.
And truly, the most powerful Curious moments we've had have been experienced while watching our favorite Stories!
In our upcoming book about that journey, we share a New Paradigm of Training/Coaching/Teaching/Helping/Being.