We look at each other wondering what the other is thinking but we never say a thing.
–Dave Matthews, Ants Marching
Did you ever wonder the same thing about someone you were with?
Did you ever wonder what the story was behind a song you like?
Do you wonder how some singers get to be famous when they can’t sing?
Do you wonder about things as much as I do?
Are you wondering why I’m asking so many questions?
What Is Wondering ?
Wondering is that sense of awe mixed with curiosity that little kids and imaginative grown-ups get when they see something out-of-this-world unbelievable. It’s the real feeling behind words like awesome, incredible, amazing, stunning, and wonderful.
Wondering is looking at a starry sky and thinking that there are more stars and more universes than you can possibly count, . . . that numbers go on into infinity, . . . that space is a vacuum without any sound at all . . . that the light from the stars can travel days just to reach us. Wondering is trying to get your mind around the idea that biggest jerk on the planet can appear to be happily married with kids who seem to like him–and can have more money than we’ll ever dream of having.
I wonder about everything. I’m wondering right now if you’re going to wonder why I wrote these words, or if you’re even going to read them.
Wondering is a thinking skill. Name a genius who didn’t have wondering as a core competency.
Creative Wondering 101
Creative wondering is opening your brain to the kind of questions you used to have when you were much shorter than you are now. It’s like brainstorming with questions. If you’re looking to solve a problem, wondering is a painless way to get where you want to be. Point your brain in the right direction, and your wondering takes you to a variety of possible solutions.
These are three benefits of creative wondering that make it useful to everyone. It’s funny kids know these things automatically and most grown-ups need to learn them all over again.
- Wondering works best when you’re relaxed and in turn is relaxing.
- Wondering is personally flexible. You can wonder into a journal or notepad to capture your thoughts, but you don’t have to.
- Wondering is mobile, and therefore, it increases productivity. You can do it anywhere. It’s a useful skill for when you’re waiting in traffic or for that doctor who’s always an hour late. Wondering works in the shower. Reading usually does not.
If you haven’t wondered for a while, you might be a little tight. Stretch your brain a bit with warm-up questions. Here are a few:
What if? . . . How come? . . . Who was? . . . What belongs? . . . Why did? . . . Who the heck? . . . Who’s idea? . . . Where was I? . . . What’s wrong with this picture? . . . When did that happen? . . . Who died and made you king? . . . What would Brad and Angelina have to say about this? . . . Why him? Why her? Why it? Why now? Why bother? WHY NOT? and What will I do when I win the lottery?
You could write them down and take notes under each one. Go for it, if that’s the kind of wonderer you are. Don’t you dare, if you don’t want to. It’s wrong to take the fun out of wondering. Then you would spend your time wondering why you are wondering . . . That kind of wandering wondering gets you nowhere.
Wondering to Solve Problems
Now you’re ready to start looking at the serious stuff with a new lens of wondering. Don’t let anything off the hook. Question the whole world, like you questioned your parents when you were three years old.
If you need a solution, do some serious wondering about the problem.
- Wonder why it’s a problem to start with.
- Then throw that passel of questions in the warm-up at the problem to pull out the bits that you’re not seeing clearly. Obssess over every detail with every possible question you might think of to wonder about. One caveat–exclude questions that illicit an emotional response. Just the facts for now, please.
- Do at least 5 What ifs? to get to a variety of possible solutions. Skip the What happeneds? until you’ve found a solid solution.
- When you have a critical mass of possible solutions laid out, challenge them with questions again–more what ifs? and what makes you think sos? A couple of I wonder, if we changed this one thing here, would that be betters? might work now.
- When you’ve got that solid solution tested with questions, then you can go back to the What happeneds? to make sure that you don’t end up solving the same problem again and again. The answers will be so much less emotionally-laden now that you have a solution in hand or already in process.
Wondering as a Promotional Tool
Wondering, asking questions as pure curiosity can get you to a solution that you might not get any other way. I’ve seen it happen. It is a powerful skill to add to your personal branding brochure-resume. Learning to live with a wondering view will automatically incorporate itself into your branding BIG idea.
To be able to say,
I can lead a team to a high trust environment, where problem solving is open questioning based on challenging assumptions and wondering about possible outcomes.
is an impressive thing.
I repeat. Name me a genius who didn’t have wondering as a core competency. Wondering will lead you to learn things that other folks don’t even think about. That’s a trait of a leader.
I can’t help but wonder what you’re thinking right now. What are you going to do with this information? I wonder how many ways you’ll find to use wondering to promote yourself and your business in the next 15 minutes.
–ME “Liz” Strauss