Vincent Lim took this great picture of three generations of Weeds at a recent house party. Moments later, Noah stuck his hand puppet into the bell of Cory's sax - just because he was curious to see what it would do to the sound. Cory (his dad) didn't miss a note. Bill and Betty (his grandparents) just smiled. They all understood the joy and power of child-like curiosity and how important it is to cultivate it.
Curiosity is the only way, really, to initiate a conversation aimed at constructive collaboration.
Criticism tends to shut people down and push them away. Complaint does the same. Contention does the same. These three ways of initiating a conversation lead to you dominating the space. They put you in control of the conversation in a way that leaves little room for others. They generate a monologue rather than a dialogue. And that is a serious barrier to constructive collaboration.
Only curiosity creates space for others to contribute their unique brilliance on their terms. When you give yourself permission to be curious with a child-like wonder, when you actually pursue that kind of curiosity with courage and consistency, and when you provoke that kind of curiosity in and among your colleagues, the quality of community that you will generate improves immensely.
As we "mature," we learn to curb and conceal our child-like curiosity. We feel we need to know things. We feel we need to impress people. We feel we need to be in control. All of those needs dampen and depress the natural ability to wonder and explore. So we need to give ourselves conscious and intentional permission to recover our child-like curiosity. It's the best way to open up possibilities and build new probabilities.
But giving yourself permission is not enough. You actually have to pursue that child-like curiosity and model it for others. It will take you into places that are uncomfortable and, at times, scary. But that's where you discover new things. That's where you discover new dimensions of people you thought you knew well. That's where you discover new potential for improvement. All of this happens through the impact of a simple question. Imagine, for example, the conversation that might flow from these questions: "What possibilities do you see in this situation?" or "How do you see this?" or "What are the best possible outcomes you can imagine?"
These kinds of questions - simple and open - provoke others to get engaged in co-creating a better future. Such questions 'call forth' the intellect, the emotions, and the instincts of others, providing a space for all three dimensions of cognition to integrate in response to the curiosity. You can't truly 'call forth' others into a space that you are dominating. There has to be space for them to join in the curiosity. So stay curious and generate that kind of space.
When that space emerges, when people are allowed (perhaps even invited) to stick their puppets into the bell of the sax just to see what might happen, amazing ideas emerge and astounding things happen.
And if you think Jazzthink might offer some coaching, or a keynote or workshop, to help you cultivate this kind of curiosity in your conversations, please let me know at email@example.com.