How can I give up as much control as possible over what is beyond me & simultaneously claim as much agency as possible over what is within me?

Curiosity, Certainty, & Control

Most of us are taught that once we are successful then we’ll be happy. However, research shows us that happiness is a precursor to success, not an outcome of it. One of the key precursor’s to happiness is curiosity. Curiosity keeps us open to new ideas and learning nuance to familiar ideas. This kind of curiosity even with the familiar is what Zen Buddhist call entering with “the beginner’s mind.” I recently got to watch Tony Doody’s wonderful talk about curiosity from ACPA’s Pecha Kucha. Like Tony, my children remind me regularly what a gift it is to be curious in the world. Curiosity helps us see new things, see old things in new ways, and be open to multiple truths. Eric Mata recently pointed me to Ta-Nehisi Coates notion of “muscular empathy” which challenges us to be open to some of the most difficult truths.

Certainty is the enemy of curiosity. Or as “Google Genius” Tom Chi explains, knowing is the end of learning. Being certain and knowing things is so tempting. Most of us, me included, have learned that knowing things and being certain is how we prove how smart or wise we are. The opposite is actually true.

We become certain about people, organizations, and the world by making them predictable as a way of controlling them. We seek control when we feel out of control. The more control we seek, the more out of control we feel. Cyclical.

One of the more insidious ways we try to exert control when we feel out of control is by making people predictable.We make others predictable as a way of controlling them. We each know that we ourselves are growing, evolving, learning, and changing everyday. When we make others predictable we rob them of that same possibility. When others become predictable in our minds we give ourselves permission to stop listening. When we stop listening we aren’t really interacting with others, we are simply interacting with the simple (and convenient for us) versions of them we have created in our own minds. Sometimes we even make others predictable in a negative way to shift responsibility for what we don’t like from us to them.

If you feel out of control, let go of trying to control things. Life becomes magical when you let go of as much control as possible over what is beyond you and simultaneously claim as much agency as possible over what is within you.

Here are some of the great videos linked to in this post.

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