When asked what made him a great coach, Phil Jackson said, “Find out what each player is curious about and then find a way to fulfill that.”
Sounds simple right? Curiosity is the motivator that kicks people into high performance so if you want people to perform just make them curious! But in our culture we have a heavy emphasis on ‘knowing the right answer’ and being an ‘expert’. So, curiosity is more often suppressed than encouraged. From the time we enter school we are programmed to learn, know and remember the right answer so as to not be punished or appear stupid. Curiosity does not get you an A+.
But a healthy sense of curiosity is what leads to great discoveries! America would not have been discovered when it was by Columbus if he had not been willing to follow his curiosity and also be willing to be wrong (which he was) about the great land that existed beyond the imagination of the average Spaniard. He was willing to boldly step into the unknown with his experiment, sell it and recruit for it even though he did not know what the outcome would be…and even after failing at it before!
When you look in the eyes of a child (usually under five years old) you see wonder and inquisitiveness shining brightly. They still believe it is acceptable to seek new sensations, experiment and explore.
Just now when I asked my 6-year-old sons what does curious look like, they said, “like a monkey”, and then demonstrated by standing on their heads. Clearly they are not restrained by the confines of appearring ‘professional’ or having the ‘right answer’.
But as they grow up, they will learn many facts and (hopefully) develop an expertise in some area. In this process, they are at risk of losing their healthy sense of curiosity. A teacher’s (and a parent’s) greatest challenge is to keep curiosity stimulated, while learning takes place through little experiments. In other words, coaching!
In my private coaching sessions with clients, resistance often surfaces when approaching the unknown. People have been well-programmed to associate fear with exploring the hidden parts of themselves (even though this is what leads to great discoveries about their own appetites and talents!).
What is more important than knowing why this resistance (or even anger) shows up is knowing how to overcome it. If what the great coach Phil Jackson says is true, curiosity equals incentive and incentive is the fuel for great performance. By tapping that, we uncover our deeper desire, and our hidden talents (which help us attain what we desire). Without knowing what we are seeking and without activating the power to get it, life is, well, boring.
Curiosity is so fragile. Even by defining curiosity, (desire without attachment) a person’s sparkle will immediately turn to boredom, and resistance has won. Another opportunity for a great discovery lost.
So, I could tell you that you can’t eliminate resistance, but you can eclipse it. And I could tell you how to eclipse it, but if I did, would you still be curious?