Courage, growth, connection, compassion, and curiosity.
These five values are the heartbeat of Transitions Coaching and guide our interactions with each other
and with our clients. Over the next few months, we’re taking a deeper dive into each of our values
to explore how they also emerge in leadership.
“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
– William Arthur Ward
As the complex beings we are, it’s tough to decipher all the drivers of our personal growth. In one article, an expert will claim emotional intelligence is the most important ingredient. In another, someone will say it’s empathy or compassion. The truth is, all of these things—in different doses—are vital.
Our personal growth journeys are bound to take many different paths, sometimes veering in unexpected directions and sometimes winding back on each other.
But there is a common starting point, and that’s self-awareness. Becoming self-aware allows us to cultivate a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses—and that helps us get clear about the gifts we can continue to expand and the gaps we can work to fill.
Once we’ve fostered self-awareness, however, there’s another critical step we need to take to enable growth. We need to be curious.
In my view, there’s a distinct difference between awareness and curiosity:
awareness is passive, while curiosity is active.
Being aware means that we see, we recognize, we acknowledge—but we do not necessarily take action. Think about it … we can be aware that taking a daily walk would be good for our health, but that awareness may not be enough to inspire us to get moving.
Being curious means that we wonder, we question, we probe—and we take action. We engage in exploration, we learn, we try new things. When we are aware that a daily walk would be good for our health and we’re curious about the change we might see, we try it and assess the difference. Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning. It’s what prompts us to go beyond awareness—and that’s when true growth happens.
I consider myself to be inherently curious. I was a journalism major in college, and I spent my career in corporate communications. I can’t recall a day that’s gone by when I didn’t ask, “why?” I’m on a constant quest to uncover answers and better understand things. I feel like it’s my duty so I can become the best version of myself and also so I can shed light for others.
As I’ve reflected on this trait in myself, it’s occurred to me that curiosity very often goes hand-in-hand with a couple of other traits: vulnerability and courage.
Curiosity and vulnerability
We’ve discussed vulnerability in the context of personal growth before. In the same way that many of us dislike admitting when we’re wrong, we dislike admitting when we don’t know something. Especially in leadership—where we’re conditioned to believe we should have all the answers—not knowing is sometimes perceived as a sign of weakness.
Even with my curious nature, I hate to say, “I don’t know.” When I’m presented with a question I don’t have an answer to, there’s an uncomfortable, vulnerable moment where I have to confess I’m not the expert. But if I can remember to be curious, I can tap into the joy I feel at the chance to continuously grow, I’m energized by the opportunity to seek the answer and to help others by finding it.
Curiosity and courage
We’ve also talked a lot about courage as a necessity for pursuing personal growth. When we are courageous, we recognize the need and are willing to think differently, to engage in exploration, and to sometimes fail.
Looking back, there are so many times I wondered “what if?” Too often, those “what ifs?”—which are signs of our potential to grow—sit untested and unfulfilled because we’re too afraid to act on them. It’s not until we tap into our courage that we activate our potential for growth.
I wondered if I could run a half marathon, so I started training and five months later completed my first race and then went on to run nine more. I wondered if I could cut it in financial services when I didn’t even know how to balance my checkbook, so I took a leap and landed in the most growth-inspiring job I ever had. All these things were inspired by curiosity, but they wouldn’t have resulted in growth if I hadn’t also had a dose of courage.
Sometimes, all of the components necessary for fueling our growth may seem disparate: self-awareness, vulnerability, courage, curiosity.
But over time, they come together like pieces of a puzzle to form a more complete picture of who we were, who we are, and who we’re meant to be. I’m convinced that as our own pictures emerge, we begin to inspire growth in those around us, too.
You can learn more about Transitions Coaching and meet our team here. And if our values align with your own and you’re interested in exploring more of the tools, resources, and support we offer, then reach out to us today.