Get curious. Get proximate. 

If we’ve learned anything from this election cycle it’s that lots of people are long on opinions and short on facts.

We’ve also unearthed some curious theories.

That mere intelligence trumps actual experience. That promises to get tough are better than an actual plan. That most of success in life is about cutting “great deals, tremendous deals”. And that, when in doubt, let’s just let fear rule the roost.

Buy into these hypotheses and there are quite a few interesting things one is led to believe:

That those that have only flown over the battlefield know how to win the war.

That folks who have never suffered from institutional racism know exactly how to lift marginalized communities out of discrimination, poverty and violence.

That people who have won the ovarian lottery–and have likely never spent a minute walking in the shoes of those much less fortunate–can confidently say that “those people” just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Moreover, there is no need for further study, or to be even mildly inquisitive, because our minds are already made up.

It’s always easier to wage an air war, to be the critic, to shout encouragement from the stands. But then there’s that pesky little problem that it doesn’t really accomplish anything.

Much of the time, what we need–what I need–is to first get curious. Once we think we have all the answers there is a pretty good chance we’re wrong. A passionate curiosity releases us from ego and creates the potential for something far more spacious, real and connected. Most importantly, it gives us the information we need for good decision-making. It turns out facts matter.

The second step is to get proximate, to get out of our comfort zone and immerse ourselves not only in the facts, figures and issues, but the people, the emotion and, yes, our hearts.

As Bryan Stevenson reminds us “when people get proximate to the problems and the things they care most deeply about, not only does it help them do better work, be better problem solvers, I think it changes them.”



h/t to Dr. Heather Hackmann for helping inspire this post.


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