Kristen was one of the best teammates I’ve ever known. In the early 1990’s, we both landed on the team assembled to help direct recruiting worldwide at Arthur Andersen. Kristen’s expertise was technology and her skillset alone would have made her a great teammate. But that wasn’t what defined Kristen. I could say it was the constant joy that flowed from her, because I remember that joy as if it were yesterday. That’s what it felt like to be around her. Yet the joy was only the visible result. It was the lagging indicator if you will. What made Kristen wonderful was that she was filled completely …
… with a sense of wonder!
I remember, one spring day, standing in the doorway of her office. We were discussing a mundane aspect of an important technology project for our team. I asked a simple question and she lept to her feet and in a burst of joy said, “that’s a great question … I’ve never thought of that!” This wasn’t the first time this had happened. I always described these moments as Kristen’s genuine way of making you feel good about your simple questions.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that Kristen was wired for wonder and whenever she hadn’t thought of something … small or large … it was her gateway to wonder. Her sense of wonder brought great energy to our team and made us better. What I also didn’t know at the time, was that Kristen really didn’t like her job. She was just awesome at a job where she felt locked inside.
Yet, we were defenseless as she found her wonder within anyway.
Years later we would reconnect at a time she was considering researching and writing a book on “wonder.” In that moment, I knew precisely what she had brought to our team.
I believe wonder is a gift that’s within all of us … yet cast into a world that strives for certainty. Squelched into the lines of acceptable and refined around the edges of acceptance. It seems our ego thirsts for certainty as well … embracing the façade of false comfort when all seems nailed-down or buttoned-up. Whether we admit it or not, there seems to be a premium placed on certainty over uncertainty … and a superiority placed on those who proclaim to have “it” all figured out.
And in doing so, the essence of wonder is suffocated.
I’m not talking about “wondering” if your flight is going to be on-time. That’s worry … not wonder! Wonder is continually being amazed that you can fly to begin with!
Science strives to bring clarity, yet is fueled and further advanced by those who never lose their sense of wonder. Often, it’s been those who wonder, who have brought updated versions of scientific certainty. Science provides critical data points that can fuel an ever-increasing sense of wonder if we don’t see the data as an end-point. Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon shared a concept from Buddhist training … it’s like the finger pointing to the moon. The point is the moon … not the finger.
Certainty serves us well when we know it’s simply inviting us to more wonder!
When I completed the manuscript for Return On Integrity, I was certain that the hard work of “digging deep” was the pathway to understanding your core values with any certainty. I still believe that digging is a part of the process, but it’s the kind of digging that you are most likely to do while sitting on your “front porch” … while gazing-out all alone or sitting in a meaningful conversation with another.
So, starting today, we are back on The Front Porch where I hope we can dig … and wonder … together. Rather than content of certainty, I hope each issue will only point you to more wonder. If so, we will all have plenty to think about as we sit alone, or talk about as we sit together again … on The Front Porch. Welcome back!