The Importance of Curiosity

by Lane Wallace on December 13, 2016

I got an email from the Explorers Club last week, giving tribute to former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn, who had died the day before, at the age of 95. It included an excerpt from the acceptance speech Senator Glenn gave in 2013, when the Explorers Club awarded him its Legendary Explorers Medal. In his remarks, Glenn extolled the virtues of curiosity:

“Exploring is another way of saying ‘curiosity in action,’ and if you think about it, there haven’t been any advances made in civilization without someone being curious about what’s out there - what’s around the next bend in the road, or over the next hill, or beyond that forest over there… and so on.

“This kind of curiosity is far more than just wanting to go and look at some new scenery someplace - it’s an attitude…

“Our whole history has been one of dragon pushing. Pushing dragons back off the edge and filling in those gaps on the maps.”

Glenn’s comments resonate with me, but for more reasons than just the ones he articulated. Yes, curiosity is what drives explorers of all kinds forward, expanding our body of knowledge–not only with regard to physical maps and territories, but in realms of science, medicine, and even human psychology. But the need to explore exists on a personal level, as well.

In my research on the development of authentic voice, one of the big themes that’s emerged is that an authentic “voice”–meaning the expression of our most authentic self, reflecting our core values, personality, dreams, passions, priorities, and individual thoughts and feelings–is not just something we “find” inside ourselves. It’s also something we develop and curate as we move through the world outside.

How do we know who we “truly” are? There are some traits we’re born with (researchers estimate that 50% of personality traits are “heritable,” or inherited/hard-wired). And even by the time we’re old enough to contemplate the question of who we are (and are not), we’ve developed another set of preferences, traits, and values. But who we become throughout the rest of our life; what our authentic voice evolves into, is more dependent on our own explorations. And if we don’t have a sense of curiosity about what might exist beyond the next corner, either within ourselves and our capabilities, or in the world at large, we’re not likely to do much of that exploration. [click to continue…]

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If posts are a bit scarce on this site, it’s because I’m currently immersed in the writing stage of my book on the power and importance of a woman’s authentic voice. Wrestling a complex topic into well-behaved words on a page can feel like a re-enactment of Hercules fighting the multi-headed Hydra … which is why, no doubt, the best-selling author Richard Bach once said that he only wrote books when an idea took hold of him with such fervor and passion that it literally forced him across the room to his typewriter, and wouldn’t let up until the job was done.

But as coincidental luck would have it, the real world collided dead-on with my writing work last weekend. I was just finishing a section of the manuscript that dealt with explaining how the power of a woman’s authentic voice is partly dependent on having a well-curated voice; of a woman not only knowing what she thinks and believes, but also having some sense of when it is useful or important to share that information, and when it is better (stronger, more considerate, more strategically advantageous) to remain silent.

“There is nothing quite so annoying–or, ultimately, ineffective,” I wrote, ” as someone who has to speak their mind at all times, regardless of impact on others, the particular group dynamics, or appropriateness to the occasion. Timing matters. Giving other people space to disagree with you matters. What’s more, if you choose your battles, your words might be heard more clearly on those occasions you choose to fight. It’s worth remembering that some of the women who’ve changed the world by speaking their truth aloud had the impact they did because they weren’t yelling on the mountaintop all the time. Some particular issue, or moment, created such a disparity between their inner truth and what they were seeing or experiencing that they felt compelled to speak.”

And just as I was searching for a good anecdote to use to illustrate that point, Michelle Obama was kind enough to provide one for me. In a speech she gave in Manchester, New Hampshire last week, she gave a powerful tutorial on what it is like for women to be subject to, or fear, sexual harassment, intimidation and assault. [click to continue…]

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The Importance of Hitting “PAUSE”

by Lane Wallace

While it’s still summertime, and some of us still have time for summer breaks or vacations left, here’s another reminder/insight that my book research has not taught me, but certainly has reinforced for me.
In searching for programs and professionals who help women of all ages discover, develop, or reconnect with their more authentic selves and [...]

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A few days ago, I was in the grocery store. It was mid-day, so there were a lot of moms and kids around. And one of those kids, whom I estimated to be a bit shy of two years old, threw a loud, dramatic and protracted fit when his mom denied him a candy bar [...]

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Every now and then, I hear from readers who are wondering what I’m doing, now that I’ve retired my “Flying Lessons” aviation column. The answer is, I’m currently researching a book I hope to have completed by the end of the year.
The book is about the power and importance of an authentic voice: why it [...]

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Well, [...]

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I set out, last week, to write a post on the death of Henry Worsley–a 55-year old retired British Army officer who was attempting to be the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided. An ill and exhausted Worsley gave up the quest a mere 30 miles from his goal, after a journey of [...]

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Why Trying an Entrepreneurial Venture May Not Be As Risky As You Think

by Lane Wallace

“Why Doesn’t Everybody…”?
For years, I have joked about this iconic question, usually posed by innocent people who do not have any first-hand experience with the (fill-in-the-blank) topic they’re asking about. Lane’s rule of thumb: If everybody doesn’t do something … whether it’s start their own business, renovate their own house, or own a polished-aluminum airplane [...]

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