A while back, I was out with a friend when she remarked that she thought it might be boring to be an expert in something because it could imply knowing all there is to know in that field.
This struck me since, in that sense, NOT being an expert would leave the door wide open to explore with full curiosity. I felt relief. Not only was it okay to not be an expert, it was exciting, it meant the world was still mine to discover!
Her comment continues to resonate with me enough that I frequently find myself re-visiting it in a variety of contexts and perspectives. This morning (almost 2 years later) when I came to think of it, I found myself focusing on how, just as not being an expert can open a door to curiosity, it can also open a door to discomfort such as uncertainty, insecurity and self-doubt. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that sometimes only one of these doors gets opened and I wondered about how one might impact the other, or what might happen if they are both opened simultaneously.
Thus, for example, I thought about how being curious can also entail a certain degree of discomfort, since it sometimes mean having to “eat humble pie” and admit that what was known yesterday to be tried, tested and proven beyond a shadow of doubt, no longer applies today.
As is often the case when I am thinking about things like this, I looked for the broader implications of what this might mean for myself and for those I coach. Phrases like “I KNOW what to do, I just can’t do it” or “I know what to do, but I keep falling of the wagon” came to mind. Whether these are spoken with regards to losing weight, finishing a book project or heck, just getting out of bed, they seem to imply a linear progression from A to B that occassionally allows for a degree of deviation – a little up and down, maybe a little circling back – or in some cases as my clients often describe it “falling off of a wagon”.
In past, I and others have been known to say there is no wagon, but for today, let’s switch things up and follow this way of thinking, since it is obviously the way many people feel.
Let’s open up the door of discomfort that can go along with not knowing, right now. Think back to when you last heard yourself saying one of those phrases. Feel the bruises of falling off of the wagon, the disappointment, the sense of wrong doing, the sense of frustration at knowing what you had to do and not being able to do it.
Take your time. If it helps close your eyes and remember that feeling, or grab a pen and jot down the memories of those experiences.
Don’t worry, the blog will still be here when you are done!
Once you can feel that sense of discomfort, try and hold onto it for just a bit longer and then try something else: Open door number 2 – the door to curiosity and start asking questions.
Why were you able to sit at your desk and write for days on end and suddenly not able to? Why didn’t the system or routine you know works, suddenly not work? Why did you find yourself falling asleep instead? What happened?
Why is it that you could work-out and eat ‘perfectly’ all of February and March, only to sit on the sofa and eat junk all of April? What did falling from the wagon entail? What caused it?
Is there a piece of the puzzle missing? Or did the puzzle just get bigger? Maybe it suddenly grew another dimension?
Could it be that you got bumped off the wagon simply because seasons changed and the skis had to be exchanged for wheels? Or were you on the wrong wagon to begin with?
Once you have your brain firing with all kinds of questions stop and consider: How does the curiosity feel? Did opening the door to curiosity change how you felt after opening the door to discomfort? Did it change the aftermath of the fall? Did it change how you feel about “not knowing”? If so, how?
If you found curiosity made a difference in your discomfort and would like to learn more about how to work with it, feel free to drop me a line!