How do you cultivate a brilliant future?

This week has been a whirlwind of brilliant conversations, reminding me of the incredible journey I’ve taken to get to where I am today and the exciting path ahead.

On reflection, I realise more than ever how essential it is to listen deeply and ask powerful questions. A gift and a skill that can be learned over time.

For leaders, coaches, educators, learning professionals, and business owners alike, these skills are invaluable. They are the foundation of growth, understanding, and innovation.

Listening with intent opens the door to truly understanding others’ perspectives and needs. Observing with your presence. This builds trust, fosters collaboration, and uncovers opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

Asking powerful questions drives deeper thinking and reflection. It challenges assumptions, sparks creativity, and leads to transformative insights.

How do you start?

By being curious. Curiosity drives us to explore, learn, and grow. It’s the spark that fuels our desire to understand the world around us and to envision new possibilities.

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The Parable of the Curious Sage

In a small village nestled between rolling hills and a shimmering river, there lived an old sage known for his wisdom. People from far and wide came to seek his advice, hoping to find answers to their deepest questions.

One day, a young traveller arrived at the village, determined to uncover the secret to the sage’s wisdom. He approached the sage and asked, “Great sage, what is the key to your wisdom? How do you always know the right answers?”

The sage smiled and said, “Come, walk with me.” He led the traveller to a nearby riverbank where a narrow bridge crossed the swift-flowing water.

As they reached the middle of the bridge, the sage stopped and pointed to the horizon.

“What do you see?” he asked.

The traveller looked and replied, “I see distant mountains, a few clouds, and the setting sun.”

The sage nodded. “Very well. But look closer.”

The traveller squinted, trying to discern what the sage wanted him to see. After a few moments, he noticed a small bird perched on a distant tree branch. “I see a bird,” he said.

“Good,” said the sage. “Now, let us cross the bridge and continue.”

On the other side of the river, they came to a dense forest. The sage asked the traveller to find the tallest tree. The traveller looked around, studying each tree carefully until he found the one that towered above the rest. “There,” he pointed.

The sage smiled again. “Excellent. But now, let us sit and listen.”

They sat beneath the tallest tree, and the sage closed his eyes, encouraging the traveller to do the same. After a while, the traveller began to hear the rustling of leaves, the chirping of insects, and the distant call of animals.

 

“Do you hear it?” asked the sage.

“Yes,” replied the traveller. “I hear many sounds I didn’t notice before.”

The sage opened his eyes and looked at the traveller. “Wisdom begins with curiosity,” he said. “It is the desire to see beyond the obvious, to look closer, to listen deeper. When you approach the world with a curious mind, you notice details others overlook. You ask questions others do not think to ask. Curiosity is the bridge to understanding and the key to wisdom.”

The traveller nodded, understanding at last. He thanked the sage and left the village, carrying with him the profound lesson that curiosity is at the heart of all wisdom.

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The lesson here is to take note of your experience and intuition (what I call ei). Here are a few steps to tap into your ei.

Stay Open-Minded: Embrace new ideas and perspectives without immediate judgment. Come from a place of curiousity – this openness paves the way for learning and growth.

Practice Deep and Powerful Listening: Hold your tongue and listen. Focus in on what you are truly hearing, what others are saying, as opposed to planning your response. This deepens understanding and connection.

Ask Powerful and Meaningful Questions: Go beyond surface-level queries. Ask questions that openly encourage reflection and exploration of new angles. You can use skills such as improv or clean language or deep coaching skills to gain a picture of what that person is saying.

Pay Attention and Reflect Regularly: Take time to reflect on your conversations and experiences. Consider what you’ve learned and how it shapes your thinking. It doesn’t need to take a few hours, it could be 5 minutes of what you learned about what’s being said and what you heard within yourself when you’re making a cup of coffee, for example.

Cultivate a Growth and Agile Mindset – Think Potential: View challenges and questions as opportunities to learn rather than obstacles. It’s so easy to think negatively – our brains are wired for it and we naturally want to fix. You can learn how to consider what is it you could learn as opposed to what you don’t know right now.

Powerful Pause: Pausing to consider your question rather than jumping to a solution to save the day (a natural response) can be the answer to igniting your curiousity.

Overall, never stop learning and re-learning the art of listening and questioning by being curious. It’s a practice that shapes our present and builds a brilliant and brighter future for all.

 

⤷ Want to learn coaching skills such as improv, clean language or powerful questions? The best way is for me to experience what that’s like. Get in touch.

 

 

Image credit: Scott Webb, Unsplash