How To Be Intellectually Curious

November 13, 2011

Last week I participated in a lively, invigorating conversation with a roomful of university students. I was privileged to be the guest speaker in a class studying administration in nonprofit organizations.

The instructor gave me a heads-up that the class was highly motivated so I’d better “bring my A game.” She promised I’d be impressed with the students’ intellectual curiosity.

Intellectual curiosity? Coming from a teacher, that’s a pretty high compliment. I was eager to find out what she meant.

Sure enough, the students electrified the classroom with their galvanizing intellectual curiosity. For more than an hour we talked and learned from each other. I even made written notes on things they taught me.

In the days afterward, I kept asking myself how one becomes intellectually curious. What are the characteristics? To answer that question, I mentally stepped back into the classroom to remind myself what transpired there. Here are three things I observed:

  1. They asked good questions. The students were genuinely curious. They asked probing, insightful questions to explore and illuminate the world around them. Though they were mature young men and women, they retained a magical, childlike curiosity. If moving into adulthood means they will someday have more answers than questions, then I hope those students never grow up. Read the rest of this entry »
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Quotes I Love

September 29, 2010

Quotations inspire me. They focus me. They motivate me.

I like the way an eloquent quote can elegantly reflect the light of resplendent wisdom. To me, each quotation has special value.

I collect quotes as a gem collector might gather precious stones. Like gemstones, quotes were never meant to be hoarded and stored in a dark, out-of-sight vault. Rather, they are most appreciated when shared and displayed for the enrichment of all.

If you also appreciate quotes, I invite you to meander through this collection of my favorites, categorized by these topics:

  1. Being Creative
  2. Planning and Goal Setting
  3. Being a Leader
  4. Learning, Teaching and Being Well Educated
  5. Understanding Life’s Transitions
  6. Marketing Effectively
  7. Achieving Success
  8. Creating a Compelling Vision
  9. Overcoming Adversity
  10. Chuckling with Yogi

Finding Meaning in a Job Search

October 15, 2009

In outplacement I once met a displaced executive who was very angry after being let go from his previous job. He had been treated unfairly and was so consumed with anger that he was unable to get on with his life.

To help him regain his balance, he’d met several times with his priest who said, “You must to get to the point where you can pray for your former boss.”

One morning my new-found friend boasted that he was finally able to pray for the one who had done him wrong. “Every morning,” he said, “I pray that my former boss will get run over by a bus.”

After a good laugh, we both agreed that wasn’t what his priest had in mind. What he needed was to forgive and then move on without hoping for revenge.

When I’ve been in transition, I’ve tried to find the purpose and meaning within the circumstances. Even though things usually seemed confusing at the time, I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned that if I’m patient, somewhere down the road understanding will come.

The biblical story of Joseph tells how he was treated unfairly, punished unjustly and then forgotten. It must have been a lonely, painful and confusing time, but it was not wasted time. Joseph sorted things out and later, after achieving great career success, said to those who had wronged him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”

Somewhere, embedded in your circumstances, you can find meaning. Somehow, even when you’re in a free fall, you can discover opportunities to learn and to grow. Heroes are made in the midst of strange and uncertain times. Be a hero.


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