For example, in my early days at IBM I managed certification programs, and I trained SMEs to write and review test questions. Back in those days, we had in-person meetings, 3 meetings per test, with roughly 1 dozen SMEs per meeting, and different SMEs at each meeting. I was developing 10-12 tests a year and I did this for nearly 7 years. You can do the math. That’s a lot of people. I was so focused on following the test development methodology and getting the tests created that I did not really get to know these amazing, brilliant people. That missed opportunity is the biggest regret I have about my early career.
Today, I recognize that ‘getting the work’ done is just as much about building relationships and experiencing what I’m learning, as it is delivering the actual product or solution. The missed opportunities serve to remind me to be curious about everyone I meet. I am learning to reach out, to make connections, to see myself as part of a larger community. Being curious seems to help me with this.
What I am discovering is that curiosity requires a genuine interest in the other person, and that it’s hard to be genuinely interested in someone else when I am absorbed in myself. Getting out of myself requires slowing down, focusing, and to be intentional about what I want to create when I am with the other person.
Below are some questions I’ve been pondering to keep me focused on the relationship side of the equation:
- What opportunities do I have to connect with others?
- How can I strengthen those connections?
- What does it feel like when I make a meaningful connection?
- What do I create for myself when I make a connection?
- What do I create for the other person when I make a connection?
- How does connecting with others change my experience of a situation?
- How can curiosity help me make stronger connections?
I’ve challenged myself to be curious about everyone I meet, to see every relationship as a possibility, and to meet each one with good will. Want to join the challenge?
Quotes to Contemplate
- Getting to know someone else involves curiosity about where they have come from, who they are. ~Penelope Lively
- Genuine listening means suspending memory, desire, and judgment — and, for a moment at least, existing for the other person. ~Michael P. Nichols
- Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention. ~Jim Rohn
- So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it. ~Jiddu Krishnamurti
- People may not remember what you say, people may not remember what you do, but they will always remember how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou
- It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. …I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. ~Oriah Mountain Dreamer
- If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.” ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The pattern of relationships and the capabilities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions. ~Margaret Wheatley
- Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. ~Albert Schweitzer
Click on the link below to access the April calendar featuring highlights from this post.
Credit to Hector Bird for this month’s featured photo compilation of flowers, taken at the Franklin Park and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, OH.
© Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2013