Do you ever get tired of yourself? Of the way you think? Of the thoughts that come to mind? I certainly have. There have been times when I have felt the need for not only new ideas but new ways of thinking. The brain is always looking to take shortcuts. This has clear evolutionary benefits, but it can also mean that we make our thinking worlds too small as we always return to the same ways of seeing, understanding and engaging with the world.
Now that we are in a post-Covid world I have started attending a series of conferences, primarily tech (i.e., IT) for now. I love all the cool innovations but that truly isn’t why I attend. I am primarily there to feel new ways of seeing the world. Many of the speakers clearly operate in a thought bubble that is very different from how I think about the world.
At times, it can even make conversations difficult when the operating assumptions are so different. My instinct is to question, and I do not really do certainty. In fact, my motto is ABQ: Always Be Questioning. And yet, at such festivals, certainty is everywhere to behold. At the 2023 Tech Summit in Dublin these and other assumptions were on show:
- Tech is always good, even if it has downsides.
- More tech will then be needed to mitigate these. This is natural.
- Tech should always be invented simply because we can.
- New tech is better than old tech.
So, I have to ask myself What am I not seeing? This truly is an opportunity not only to challenge other people’s mindsets and assumptions but to challenge my own. It is a chance to dive into their worlds and ask myself:
- What assumptions would need to be true for me to see the world like they do?
- What opportunities might reveal themselves?
- Where are the blind spots? What dangers and threats are being ignored?
- What distinctions and insights might I offer?
Questions in the Image:
- What thoughts do I never have?
- What thoughts am I always thinking?
- What thoughts don’t I ever think?
Want to Read More Around This Topic?
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant (link to Amazon.co.uk). This book explores the theme of challenging our own thoughts and assumptions and the importance of rethinking and questioning.
Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day – being in the hustle and bustle of a major conference makes me wonder How might I engage differently with the world? I see so many people with a desire to sell all sorts of solutions to the world and wonder Why don’t I do more of this? Why is there a tendency to hide my light under a bushel? What might I learn?
What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.