Try to think back of the time when you were a child and exploring the world? How did that feel?
When I think of that time, there was this overall sense of how magic the world is, how I look at everything with a sense of awe and how I didn’t buy into all of what adults tried to tell or explain to me…
And yet the more I got socialized the more I discover answers for everything, found explanations for things that appeared mystical. And gradually I lost that sense of magic, My view of the world changed. And I often find myself trying to rediscovering this mood of wonder but it isn’t that easy. Especially in daily business. Yet it is a helpful mood which powers should not be underrated, even in a realm that is seemingly devoid of magic (eg. a corporate office)!
I have recently re-discovered the work of Frank L. Baum and I am amazed how it makes me feel. There is a certain quality to his books that lets you explore new worlds like a child would. And as reader you can adopt a little bit of that wonderment. Interestingly there are animals that can speak, characters made out of metal, straw or stone, girls are transformed into boys, witches are good and everything is possible as the world is filled with wonders.
Now why does that have anything to do with our reality? With business and leadership? I feel in my heart it does have very much in common! Even though we claim to be informed intelligent beings, most of the world is a mystery. And a lot of the answers we create are just castles of sand. The current world and economy has reached a level of complexity that is difficult to comprehend, the future is uncertain and that leaves us in a bit of a pickle. A bit like some situations Dorothy (Frank L. Baums main heroine) finds herself in.
Different moods can come up when dealing with such a world of uncertainty. And whereas I can find myself anxious, I read that Dorothy adopts quite a contrary view! She steps through all of her difficulties with a sense of wonder. Now according to many sources (here are some: case-study, shifting anxiety) this is a much more helpful mood to adopt when dealing with an uncertain environment than anxiety.
So I find myself learning a lot from Dorothy and I try to use wonder and curiosity a lot since I moved to a different country and culture as it just helps me to be in awe of what I discover. Of course I try to understand what is new to me, but when I can’t I just accept it for what it is. Like Dorothy accepts so many wondrous things in her journeys without judgement. And I use wonder every time I step in front of a new group of participants in a workshop. Because no textbook can prepare me for the diversity and
the experiences in the room. And so wonder is the best mood to be prepared for the unexpected without fear or anxiety!
I observe that this comes natural to children, but to adults not so much. It is so ingrained in us to be able to explain everything that we forget to just accept the fact that there still is magic in our world. And by magic, I mean everything we just can’t put a black-or-white label on. Children have a much more open-minded approach to the inexplicable or unforeseeable and so my recommendation is not to go through hours of coaching, but to rediscover wonder in the same way children do. And so let’s not be embarrassed to read lovely children’s books, or watch animated movies from Hayao Miyazaki (especially Ponyo) who in my view is the pure master of transporting his viewers into a mood of wonder. Or read Season 4 of “Working Beauty” where instead of children, there are curious aliens exploring a corporate world. And maybe we can transport a little bit of that mood into our everyday lives.
“My people have been wearing green glasses on their eyes for so long that most of them think this really is an Emerald City.” Frank L. Baum