Soon a real pro will unmask me …

Einstein once admitted: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. ” I think most of us recognize that. The perceptions of how we appear on the outside rarely match our own experience on the inside. I think 95% of the professionals in every profession think: “There will come a time when a real pro walks in, looks over my shoulder at what I do and says:

“That doesn’t really look good, does it? You know it! Now get to work to get better. ”

In addition to being a bit embarrassed because we know she is right, we immediately get excited: “So you think I can do better?! Great, let’s get started to discover new things.” Our incurable curiosity about what is still possible kickstarts that process of discovery. We won’t only discover what was hidden from us before. But we will also discover ideas, technology, skills and more that hadn’t been invented before. These may not be shocking on a world scale, but even the tiniest discovery may be life altering for us. It’s as if the unknown doesn’t trigger fear, but excitement.

Reversed fear


And maybe that is true. The unknown evokes feelings of fear. They are a biological reaction of our amygdala. Our body notices fear before our mind does. Our fear responses are triggered immediately: fight, flight or freeze.

But we are more than biological beings. The unknown not only evokes fear, but it stimulates our imagination. Not knowing something will stimulate our imagination to fill in the gap by fantasizing about what’s missing. For example, when you’re waiting for the result of your exam and you will run through all possible and improbable scenarios eighty times. When a client lets you wait for a response to your offer, you will start to fantasize about what’s going on in the boardroom. 

In the creative process you seek the unknown because you’re aware of the fact it will stimulate your curiosity and you will discover new things. You know that asking new questions (What if … ?, Let’s say we…What then? Let’s pretend…What will happen?) will generate new answers. That doing new things will trigger new ideas. Even the anticipation of discovering new ideas, creative new combinations and fresh energy electrifies you just as the anticipation of Santa Claus, your birthday or a holiday to a new place.

Seduce others: use your curiosity

In certain people and situations the fear overrules the excitement. Some people just hate change. The harder you push for renewal, the more fearful they become and the more resistance they display. If that’s the case, use your own curiosity to seduce them. Do not focus your curiosity on the project at stake, but on them. 

Be genuinely interested in their arguments, how they feel, what they fear. And especially pay attention to what they hope for. Ask them lots of questions to get a clear picture of what they want reality to be. Ask them to describe it literally so you see it in your mind’s eye. You’re seducing them to turn the abstract into the concrete. They may even get a full picture of what they actually think for the very first time. Their focus will shift because of that. It will provide you with a lot of information. 

The last step is to be curious about what happens when you integrate their visions with the changes you were excited about. Something will probably arise that you could not have come up with yourself. And you should be very excited about that if you are really curious!

George Parker