CAL’S ORIGIN STORY: LEARNING THE POWER OF QUESTIONS
- November 1963 — the assassination of President Kennedy and installation of new president Lyndon B. Johnson.
- This event had a strong impact on Cal — he was in second grade and wondered: did Lyndon B. Johnson want to be president? Was he scared or sad, how did he feel? So he wrote to the White House in a letter and asked.
- He received a letter back — this created a buzz with neighbors, at school, and it taught him a good question can get you to the most powerful person on Earth.
- The question,’How do you feel?’, was so simple, so basic, but we hardly ever hear it.
- All of us long to be heard.
- If I ask how do you feel that will create a connection— it shows respect and caring. You’ll respond with that same level of respect, all because I asked the question.
- Many people in conversations aren’t listening, they’re just waiting for a pause so they can break in.
- Being present in the moment and asking childlike questions can do wonders.
GETTING BACK TO CHILDHOOD CURIOSITY
- As a four-year-old, you’re about as curious as you’ll be in your life.
- Experiments show children ask up to 400 questions a day of their parents.
- If we can somehow rekindle our childhood curiosity we’ll be asking great questions all the time.
HOW WE LOSE CURIOSITY
- School: having to put your hand up to ask a question in a big room of students creates a wall that says you’re not allowed to be as curious as you were last year.
- This wall gets worse in high school, heightened fear of asking foolish questions at the age where you’re concerned about how others view you.
- You don’t lose your curiosity, it can be put in the ground and buried, but it can come back.
- Think back to the curiosity you had as a four-year-old to inform the questions you ask today.
HOW EDUCATION AFFECTS CURIOSITY
- Rumi quote: ‘Sell your cleverness for bewilderment.’
- Education gives us the answers, tells us to memorize, but in the process, we forget how to ask questions.
LESSONS FROM INTERVIEW WITH MIKHAIL GORBACHEV
- Cal’s interview for Esquire for the What I’ve Learned column: read the article here.
- Originally allocated ninety minutes to ask any questions, the interview got cut short to ten minutes.
- Asked about his father and Gorbachev extended his time.
- If Cal hadn’t aimed for Gorbachev’s heart first, he wouldn’t have got the longer interview.
- Aiming for the heart is what will activate a conversation.
- It could be as simple as asking about the photos in someone’s office — this will take the conversation to unknown places, then your curiosity will kick in and you can keep the flow going from there.