Problems and Curiosity

Episode 10: The Sage Strength of Explore


How often have you been caught in a conflict or working hard to solve a problem and only later realized that you were functioning on incomplete information? If you had gotten curious earlier in the process, what would have changed for you? Would the conflict still be there? Would the problem be solved faster?



The sage power of explore, which can also be called curiosity, is extremely helpful for fact finding. It helps you understand a given situation more fully understand, so you can get to the root cause of an issue and make better decisions. There are several techniques you can use to increase your curiosity.


Be a fascinated Anthropologist.

Imagine that you’re a fascinated anthropologist who isn’t judging or trying to control anything. You’re simply wanting to understand how and why things are happening, and how and why people are doing what they’re doing. You’re gathering information by noticing what’s happening without trying to change anything. The paradox is when you aren’t trying to change anything, you just focus on learning, the better informed you become and the easier it is to bring about effective change.


Look for opportunities to experience awe and wonder.

Imagine how it feels to see the milky way on a clear night, far away from any city lights. It’s a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring experience. This is different from the fact-gathering version of the explore power. This more magical mode of the explore power is helpful for sparking deep curiosity. For example, a young person who is in awe of how the human body functions may be inspired to stay curious and become a doctor one day.


Notice how curiosity feels in your body.

For example, when I’m in deep curiosity I feel very playful and have a child-like sense of wonder. Physically I’m leaning in and excited to see what’s underneath each rock I overturn. I’m taking my time to take everything in and really understand.


Take off your “me colored glasses.”

Our beliefs, assumptions, andexperiences shape our perspective. We’re always looking at the world through our own, unique lens, our “me-colored glasses”. The problem with that is we don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t easily see what’s missing from the picture when we only see things through this lens. But when we’re aware of our “me-colored glasses”, we can become more curious and open, broadening our perspective and opening ourselves to a whole host of possibilities.


Notice Your Assumptions

Twenty years ago, when I was working for Procter & Gamble, Kroger implemented a computer-assisted ordering program. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, our sales started dropping, so I did some research. Have you ever gone to a grocery store and seen a display of products, such as spaghetti sauce that’s on sale, at the end of an aisle? Well, when products were ordered for those displays, the shelves where the product normally would be found weren’t being restocked. If shoppers didn’t see the display, they couldn’t buy the product, so our sales dropped. At first, I assumed the ordering program was flawed, but I was assured the program worked just fine. I stayed curious and gathered more information. It turned out the buyers and vendors didn’t understand what paperwork was needed to make the new system work. The problem was solved by putting a training program in place.


This big, expensive problem seemed complex, but actually had a simple fix. The people involved were all making assumptions that weren’t true. They were only seeing their small part, rather than seeing the whole system. Our P&G team assumed that the out of stocks were the problem when they were just a symptom. The root cause for the drop in sales was lack of training. The solution was discovered by getting curious and setting aside those assumptions.


Notice How Your Saboteurs Interfere with Curiosity

When we’re curious and admit we don’t know have all the answers, the judge saboteur may think this makes us look weak as a leader. The truth is that it’s not the leader’s job to always have the answers. Their role is to bring out the best in other people, so the team gets great results, especially in the face of uncertainty and change. Leaders must be curious to see those changes coming.


As a leader do you come from a place of fear or confidence? Fear and doubt are driven by our saboteurs. When we ask questions from a place of confidence and curiosity, we are showing true leadership. At times this may be easier said than done. That’s when mental fitness training really pays off. It becomes second nature to say “Thank you saboteur, but I don’t need you right now.” Then do some self-command exercises until you feel less judgment and more curiosity.


If the leader models confident curiosity, they indirectly grant permission for their teams to be curious. Curiosity was truly a way of life at Procter & Gamble for people at all levels, and it really paid off. I was working on one piece of business for one division that sold to this retailer. It would have been inefficient for the leader of the Procter & Gamble Kroger team to shift away from the broader strategy to fight this fire. By delegating to me, the problem got solved and that reflected well on all of us.


If you’re interested in building your curiosity and that of your team, I’d love to explore with you how my Positive Intelligence program can help you achieve this. Email me at lisa@lisabrewercoaching.com or book a 30 minute consultation through the Book Online portion of my website.


Until next time, I hope all of you experience deep, confident curiosity!

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