When your character matters the most

People have been forever asking questions. Humans have a certain amount of natural curiosity. Others have more than their fair share. For some it has become the tool for success. It led them to paths unknown and allowed them to make discoveries and inventions. For others it has become a source of social interaction and individual satisfaction, commonly known as gossiping. And for some few it is a way to show genuine interest and concern and a tendency to assist fellow humans.

And then we have those who do not have much curiosity at all. What is the case here? Don’t they ask questions? Well, they do, but these are of a very practical and superficial nature. Questions that will only ensure daily mandates or possibly verify the validity of their own thoughts and choices.

Why am I making the case of curiosity? The other day I was listening to former Disney CEO, Bob Iger, and he was mentioning that one of the key attributes a leader should have is curiosity. Curiosity lends to creativity. Creativity leads to fantastic outcomes. Curiosity is directly linked to two things: an open mind and a dangerous mind. It all comes down to why you are being curious. It was not by chance that I started off with the greatness curiosity can create and balanced it off with the social damage it can also cause. The key is the starting point. Curiosity is a trait. Its potential good or harm has to do with our character, and, in particular, its moral nuances.

When the ego is involved, typically individual hedonism is the outcome, sometimes in the form of a creation or discovery and oftentimes in the form of negative communication among people. This is commonly associated with dangerous minds. When the ego is absent, typically social good is the outcome, possibly in the form of magnificent innovation, discovery and creativity and even a mentally strong and caring society. Genuinely open-minded people use their curiosity in such ways.


Going back to what Bob Iger mentioned about being curious and how this can lead to creativity, it is only natural that creativity needs to be present in the questions that we ask as well. So, the case that is being made here is simple: being curious is not enough. To do good with our curiosity we need to be stripped of our ego. It is ok to feel a certain amount of pride when you do good, but this needs to be controlled and not lead to arrogance. Being curious also means asking questions. And since curiosity goes hand in hand with creativity, your questions should be creative as well.

The bottom line of being effective as a coach, is your ability to form a number of diverse in nature and content questions, totally relatable to the client and creative in such a way that the client will feel compelled to respond not just verbally, but physically and psychologically, as well. That is when we have managed to penetrate the wall of timidity, insecurity or mistrust that clients usually carry with them during the session.

But I am taking it one step further: the starting point of curiosity. Our very own character. No matter how well you train to become a coach, how curious and, therefore, creative you may be with your questions and efficiency, if the character does not support the trait or skill, then we have dangerous minds at work, making coaching a game in which we will find hunters and hunted. 

Curiosity may be considered a great trait for coaches and leaders to have. However, if it stems from a need to satisfy the self, it then becomes the trait of a dangerous mind.
Pamela Caravas
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