The power of curiosity and generous intent


‘View others with generous intent’ is something that I aspire to practice and role model, but the truth is, I often fail miserably.

Just this week, I clapped back at someone who wrote  the comment, ‘This looks like a way to destroy your lower back,’ on a reel I posted about how to lift and load your kayak.

If I stick to the facts, that comment isn’t right or wrong, good or bad, but…

I immediate shot back: “Except it hasn’t destroyed my low back, and I’ve been doing it for 30 years. As I say in the video, it’s important that you pay attention to your body and use the technique that works for you. This is one way. If you don’t like it then don’t do it.”

My tone was… a little… snippy.

His response: “well your trying to reach and teach others. I get the sharp attitude. I can’t see any of my older crew doing that without injury. You’re basically an athlete and like you’ve said been doing it this way for thirty years. How does one do it ergonomically with less upper body strength effectively?”

Two questions come to mind:

  1. Why didn’t he lead with the question he actually wanted to ask? Asking questions and staying curious is a good way to foster connection and lead to learning and growth. Making finite statements squashes possibility, connection and growth.
  2. What was stopping me from taking a breath, getting curious and responding with a question?  Something like: Are you asking me how I protect my low back? Or even, do you have a question about the video?

Had I been able to view his comment with generous intent, my initial comment would have changed from being defensive to being curious.

Go for self awareness and growth mindset

As Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, notes: “In a changing world, expertise quickly becomes obsolete without humility and curiosity. Expertise is what you know. Humility is knowing what you don’t know. Curiosity is how much you want to learn. Expertise yields insight today. Humility and curiosity fuel growth tomorrow.”

The hardest people for me to view with generous intent are men I don’t know very well who occur for me as mansplainers, judgmental and righteous. It could be that I’ve been judged and dismissed too many times over the 30 years that working and playing in a male dominated industry.

It’s not about not sticking up for myself, or enabling mansplaining or entitled behavior, it’s about reducing my own suffering.

Reduce your suffering

When I react negatively to a comment, it’s my heart rate that spikes, my mood that gets irritated, and my time that gets sucked away. Not to mention, I put myself out of integrity by reacting the way I would advise my coaching clients against. My goal is always to walk my talk. 🙂

On the other hand, if I read the same comment, and get curious then I reduce my own suffering, and I have an opportunity to connect with someone that I may have written off in the past. Instead of creating conflict and suffering, I can create connection.

Setting Boundaries

To be clear, I’m a big believer in boundaries, and if a conversation continues to devolve in the face of curiosity, then it’s time to shut it down.

I would rather set boundaries out of a place of empowered choice rather than reactionary anger.

So that’s my journey this past week in noticing behavior that feels disempowering, and reflecting on how I can move easily and quickly toward feeling empowered. This is what I call mental agility work, and why growing self-awareness is a key spoke in my Mental Agility Wheel framework.

If you have behaviors that you want to shift I invite you register for my Mental Agility 8 Week Course starting in January. Make 2024 your best year yet by belonging to a group of folks who are committed to curiosity and growth. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. 

I’ll be there with you workin on generous intent!