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Getting Curious about Change

Curious…..it’s a word I have grown to love.  Being curious (for me at least) means living in the question, exploring, enquiring, being interested in the “what if’s and being ok with not always knowing the answer.


When we experience change there is very often a degree (sometimes a very large degree) of uncertainty.  There are often a lot of unknowns which can make us feel a bit off balance.  But those unknowns, that uncertainty could be where the magic lies, where the novelty and new opportunities for us sit.

desire paths

Here is an example.  Have you ever noticed when out walking in the park for example, that even though there is a clear path to walk on, invariably you notice the signs of people finding a different route?  A short cut perhaps or a more direct way to get where they need to get to.   Architects and planners at an American college had noticed this and so when they were designing the layout they deliberately left out paths and walkways.  They allowed the students to show them where the walkways should be.  They called them “desire paths”.


That got me thinking about how often we try to find the answers to questions too quickly.  We don’t allow the answers to show up over time.  What if when there is change going on and uncertainty about how things will be in the future, what if we could allow our “desire path” to show up?  What if were curious about what our new way forward might be?


Sometimes we can’t know what the end result is going to look like yet we try to mould it into something solid and tangible to satisfy that certainty that we crave.  What if we focused on what we do know which is, that things have a funny way of sorting themselves out!  Those students didn’t stop walking around campus just because there were no paths!


Getting curious doesn’t mean not having any goal in mind or not setting clear intentions for yourself.  What it means is, if you open up to possibilities that you don’t yet know exist, you might just end up with a more efficient and effective route.


Begin by considering what big changes have, are or are likely to affect you in the next 12 months.   What is most important to you?  Certainty or creativity?  What will have the biggest positive impact on your life?  Continuing to try and apply the same approach to the new, changed situation or trying something new?


We humans need certainty and novelty to thrive so how can you make the changes that you face now and in the future an opportunity for a balance of the two?   Creating an environment in which you feel safe to explore and be curious.  To try out new things, to find your desire paths.


How can you do that? 


Let’s look at what stops curiosity.  Curiosity is impeded by:curiosity2

  • a fear of consequences
  • a need to get things right all the time
  • a desire to have all the answers
  • applying the same thinking to new situations.


Seizing the opportunities that curiosity an bring is enhanced by:

  • non-judgemental communications
  • listening
  • asking questions
  • offering choice and options
  • having a strong sense of purpose as an anchor to come back to.


That sense of purpose acts as a point of stability, an anchor point and a solid foundation on which you can feel a degree of certainty and safety.


So, times of  change are an opportunity for you to re-asses your purpose.  What do you stand for?  What is fundamentally important to you?  What do you contribute?  These are like our personal values and they are pretty rock solid, they are pretty unchanging and so, when we are clear about them and can keep reconnecting with them we feel stronger, safer, more stable.


It’s important to acknowledge that the way we are wired means we are great at scanning the environment for threat.  We are doing it all the time.  But we are not nearly as proficient at scanning for opportunities.   So, we need a bit of a mindset shift if we are to counter balance our natural, pre-programmed setting.


Shifting our mindset from trying to predict the future and basing our decisions on past experience is a good starting point. 


All we have is now, this moment.  We cannot truly know what will happen in the next minute let alone the next year and what has happened before has happened and we can’t change it.  The power lies in focusing on what is going on right now and opening your mind up to what you can do today without becoming paralysed with worry about the future.


Here are three key questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I know today?
  2. If I was truly living my purpose what would I do next?
  3. What do I know about myself and my ability to succeed?


Don’t force the answers, all you need to do is be open to whatever emerges.


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
George Bernard Shaw

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