We will be hosting a live 30-minute conversation on this topic on April 30, 2020. You can register for that conversation as well as all of our upcoming webinars on our Community Gatherings page.
Wonder is the fifth leadership promise in The Vitality Imperative and a particularly relevant principle to explore given the challenges we face today. When we allow ourselves curiosity and possibility in the face of a problem, we free ourselves from imaginary limits and inspire fresh thinking. In this video, Conversant colleagues Gretchen Gagel, Mickey Connolly and Kell Delaney share what they believe is most valuable about encouraging Wonder in our personal lives and our communities.
As humans we all have a paradigm about the way the world works and how we operate within it, so when circumstances change and our paradigm shifts, we often encounter resistance and uncertainty. Clinging to the way things used to be will keep us from successfully moving into our next phase together. Wonder allows us to envision a future that excites us and gives us new energy. It gives us a place to stand and have control, easing stress and offering us a sense of agency. If leaders enable and encourage innovative, out-of-the-box thinking their communities can design the path forward in new and creative ways.
To foster Wonder in our organizations, we need to create cultures of psychological safety where people feel safe to speak up and share their wild ideas. When people feel empowered to offer their perspectives, we have access to a whole range of diverse and inventive thinking that a leader could never have come up with on their own. We are smarter together than we are separately, and when we can all wonder out loud as a community, we unleash our collective brilliance.
Humans focus their energy in two ways: problem solving and wonder, or creation. If you think of a sailboat in a harbor, pulling up the anchor is like solving a problem. We’ve taken care of the obstacle and are free to move past it. But where are we going? Wonder sets our sights on the horizon and gives us energy and excitement about where we want to go. Both are valuable at different times, but without Wonder we’re just floating un-anchored in the harbor.
To find more of our insights and tools on Wonder, you can explore the Wonder section of The Vitality Imperative and it’s online resources. We will continue to explore this topic and many others related to how we stay connected and keep creating value in challenging circumstances, so stay tuned for future episodes of The Connection Diaries.
If you and your community have been having inspiring conversations and ideas about how to navigate the COVID-19 reality, we would love to hear about them! Please comment below or connect with us on LinkedIn. Let’s unleash our collective brilliance.
Mickey: Hello everybody this is Mickey Connolly from Conversant; I’m here with my colleagues Gretchen Gagel and Kell Delaney. Today’s connection diary is about wonder, and Gretchen and Kell, I wonder what has you say this is a relevant topic given everything that’s going on in the world. So Gretchen, what say you?
Gretchen: Yeah, Mickey it’s—I mean, definitely in these times of disruption I think when we talk about wonder in the Vitality Imperative, one of the most important things that we talk about is helping our teams break the grips of the past. It’s so challenging at times. We have a paradigm about how we do work, how the work—how the world is operating. We’ve definitely seen that paradigm break in the last few weeks, so I think as leaders really, how do I enable that highly creative out-of-the-box thinking?
Kell: Thanks Gretchen. You know for me, there’s a personal component, too. I know a lot of us are feeling fear, discomfort, uncertainty; every day the news changes, what’s gonna happen next changes. And to me, wonder is the place we can stand—that I can stand—that gives me something to do, that helps me feel better, that makes me feel more in control. And so from a personal, to a work, to a family perspective, that’s why I love being in wonder.
Gretchen: Yeah I think that ties, Kell, into one of the key points about wonder is creating that psychological safety, and I think especially when people may in general not be feeling safe, or they’re feeling fearful and insecure, we may be having some amygdala hijacks going on. How do we create a culture of psychological safety where people can say wow this—I think this is a really crazy idea, but I’m gonna throw it out there. And because that’s how we do wonder. That’s how we find those incredibly creative solutions to our business.
Mickey: And I think that one of the reasons it feels so relevant—certainly to me—is in talking to a lot of the leaders that we know in client organizations, people are all concerned about what’s the next era look like as we come out of this? And the people I think are being the most creative about that question are not trying to get us to go back to the way it were. Instead, they’re wondering what will be new. And I think, Kell, the freedom to wonder like you were talking about? I think it’s less tense—tension-causing—than “how do we get it go back the way it was?” How about, “What’s they way we’re headed now?” That feels to have less stress in it than to somehow try to imprison life in going backward.
Kell: Yeah, and that reminds me, one of my favorite analogies when I think about this is, you know, there are two ways human beings focus their energy. One is problem-solving and one is wonder, or creation, or vision, or about, “Where do I want to go? What do I want to do?” And they’re both equally valid, but they both have different times and places where they’re useful. And the analogy I love is this idea of a sailboat in a port with its anchors and all these things holding it back. Problem-solving is finding the anchors, lifting them up, getting everything ready to go. Wonder is looking out and saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to go there. I want to be there,” and just putting up the sails, and you start to drag the anchors. Because if you only—if you only focus on the anchors and lifting them up, even if you theoretically finish getting all of them lifted, you’re still bobbing in the same spot in the port. But if you put up the sails and you start to move, you get excited and motivated and that energy you’re speaking about, Mickey. And now, you can look back and see the anchors and go, “that little thing is getting in my way,” and you can lift it up, and there’s much more energy and excitement behind that. It gives you something to do, like I said, and you’re making progress to something you’re excited to get to.
Gretchen: Yeah, it so clearly links to the purpose of the organization. If we remember why we exist—you know, Simon Sinek’s Start With Why—what our true purpose is, and then we can think creatively about our intent, like, how are we going to serve that purpose in a different way?
Mickey: You know, I know you both have a lot of success in working with people in breaking the grip of the past, as Gretchen was talking about earlier, and for those of you who are interested, we will be doing a 30-minute version of this conversation that’s interactive and include you and other clients from around the world. We look forward to you joining us in that because we think wondering about wonder is particularly timely given everything that’s going on right now. And in that 30 minutes we’ll learn a lot from one another, and we hope that you’ll join us. So, thanks for joining us today in this brief little teaser about exploring the nature of wonder. Thanks for listening.