Curiosity killed the cat they say – but we keep being curious. We are constantly asking questions about our practices, successes and failures, and the trends we see all around us. Often our curiosity brings us to a place of discovering a new tool, a new book, a new practise.
Our curiosity is often directed externally. Curiosity about oneself can be dismissed as navel-gazing or time-wasting; self-indulgent when there is so much to be done.
Take a moment to imagine yourself as an instrument. The product of a master craftsperson, a work of wonder and beauty. Capable – given the proper treatment – of producing the most beautiful and inspiring sounds. The catch? It takes practice to master such an instrument. Time to understand its unique nature and to become familiar with its peculiarities. You could potentially get a tune out of it after a short time of familiarisation, but to master, it will take a lifetime of focus and learning. Many of us settle for scratching out a recognisable melody when we could do much better with a bit of time invested.
As a coach, I spend a lot of time inviting people to be curious about themselves. You can’t facilitate that without having done it – and so I have tried to be more deliberate about noticing tendencies in myself. Sometimes I’m aided by people close to me calling things to my attention, sometimes to unpack powerful emotions or reactions. A really rich and productive seam for me came from using an assessment tool that captures a snapshot of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is widely recognised as being why people with average IQ usually outperform those with very high IQ in the workplace. Unlike our IQ and personality, EQ (emotional intelligence) is malleable – we can change it by focusing and working on it. Let me give you one example.
One of the subscales in the EQi assessment is called Self Actualisation. It’s defined as ‘the willingness to persistently try to improve oneself and engage in the pursuit of personally relevant and meaningful objectives that lead to a rich and enjoyable life.’ My score in this was low, which surprised me. I thought of myself as motivated, and at that time, I was engaged in a lot of work I found satisfying. The low score didn’t make sense. On my own, I might have concluded it wasn’t a very good assessment, but my coach helped me to start asking questions.
Through that conversation, I realised that there were some important ones where I was stuck despite being motivated in many areas. Processes and systems beyond my control; a lack of allies and companions were taking their toll. We arrived at an experiment to try – being more assertive and vocal about some of the things I wanted to do. Speaking out the things which excited me; testing the water before assuming a negative answer might seem incredibly obvious – but I had told myself I was satisfied with what I had. It made an incredible difference very quickly, and it’s still a lesson I hold dear. The great thing about this EQi assessment is that this wasn’t the only breakthrough. I can only encourage you to try it for yourself and see.