Welcome 2018! With the arrival of yet another brand-new year, I’m reminded of the many ways in which I’m fortunate….in business, and in life.
But nothing seems quite as poignant at this moment as setting the tone for the year to come by defining it in advance with just one important word. It’s that time, once again, to reveal my Word of the Year, in an eager anticipation that, perhaps, words cannot describe!
Having a word of the year for each of the last 4 years has proven more effective for me than a New Year’s resolution. Personifying these words has allowed me to continue to evolve as an emotionally intelligent person, and to become more confident, resilient and compassionate. It’s a profound experience to have 365 days to build a deep relationship with a chosen word. And incredibly, my past words of the year (Self-Compassion, Focus, Simplicity and Intentional) represent the tenets I help clients embed into their energetic DNA. 2018’s Word of the Year is no different. Curiosity is essential for career success, relational success, self-fulfillment, and real-life success!
I began to employ the word “Curious” constantly about 3 years ago, at the dawn of my fascination with neuroscience. It’s an empowering concept to digest that our sole obstacle to creating the life that we want is between our ears. We truly can be our own worst enemies! Perhaps Henry Ford put it most insightfully when he said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”
Brain Science and a Paycheck
Back in 2014, I also learned a fact as black and white as Ford’s truism: you can’t be curious and judgmental at the same time. The connection to neuroscience here is that states like judgment, impatience, defensiveness, anger and frustration all alert your amygdala to potential danger. When the amygdala is activated, cortisol is released, raising your stress level. Your brain then becomes fogged, which is the kiss of death for knowledge workers like us, who are paid for our brains.
In our effort to stay out of that triggered state, how do we remain non-judgmental or non-defensive? In other words, how do we transcend such a deeply-embedded, and at times, unconscious part of our culture? The undisputable answer is to become Curious. Inquisitiveness activates the prefrontal cortex, simmers down that amygdala, steadies the threat and its related anxiety, and allows us to think clearly once again.
In Relation To Mindfulness & Presence
As I found myself engaging more in this questioning state of being (because building a business is SCARY….cue the amygdala), I realized the state of Curiosity is by implication a state of mindfulness. After all, when you’re actively Curious, you tend to “keep up with the story line”. You don’t get lost in a daydream, or formulate a conclusion about another’s story way before they reveal it. Curiosity precludes you from getting trapped in the past with thoughts of regret, and renders you “mentally” incapable of propelling yourself prematurely into the future with thoughts of anxiety. Remaining Curious is important, of all things, for keeping you soundly anchored in the present.
The Silent Advantage
Here’s another reason to fall in love with Curiosity: it requires that we listen. It’s become painfully obvious that many people’s listening skills are substandard. Even when our intentions are good, and we are technically listening, our comprehension, itself, is distorted by our own unconscious bias. We see the world through our own experiences, and draw conclusions based on those very experiences, when we should be considering the experiences of the speaker. By employing active Curiosity, we are better able to listen to understand, or, as Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) founder Judith E Glaser says, “stand under another person’s reality.”
The more I employ Curiosity, the more connected I feel to others. Ironically, as I publicly announce my Word of the Year, and proclaim my commitment to embodying Curiosity, I’ve realized that becoming certified in Conversational Intelligence® demands a mastery of listening. So, as you begin thinking about your Word of the Year, get Curious about this: “Listening is just as important in conversations as speaking.”
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