David J. Pollay, MAPP '06, is a co-founder of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). David has an Economics degree from Yale University and has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments and AIESEC. He is an Executive Coach who specializes in business relationships. He is also an author and keynote speaker known for his best-selling books, The Law of the Garbage Truck (how to navigate negativity) and The 3 Promises (how to create personal fulfillment every day). David's articles are here. For permission to reprint David's articles, please contact him.
Focus + Humility + Questions = Momentum©
Let me check something out with you. Pretend for a moment that your friend, child, spouse, employee, or your boss said to you: “I would like to learn from you. It would mean a lot to me if you would help me.” How would you feel? My bet is that you would feel great: We all like to believe that we have something to offer the people we care about.
People want to help us when we are humble enough to ask for help.We demonstrate our curiosity when we seek assistance. We telegraph to the world that we are on a search for new ways to do, see, and experience things. Psychologist Todd Kashdan of George Mason University wrote a chapter about the character strength of curiosity in Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson’s book Character Strengths and Virtues. In it Kashdan reviewed research that showed when people demonstrate curiosity, they learn more, are more engaged at work, and perform better academically. Curiosity leads to better performance. So, this week, let’s ask for help. Here’s our plan:
- Think of two important areas in your life in which you could use some ideas, help, or input.
- Write down a few questions you could ask people about these two critical areas.
- Then identify three people you could approach to ask your questions. Choose a friend, a family member, and a colleague.
- Finally, ask your questions. But first tell them why you appreciate them (i.e., their perspective, ideas, expertise, or their knowledge of you), and ask them if they would be willing to share their thoughts with you about something important to you. When they say “yes” – and they always will – then pose your questions to them.
- Listen with humility. Write down their answers. And thank them for their insights and their time.
What will happen?
First, you will be amazed at how much people will appreciate your reaching out to them: You will have shown respect and interest in them, and for that they will be grateful – even if they do not express it immediately. You will have deepened your relationship with them.
Second, you will be happy to have received help from people you care about and admire. And very importantly, you will have learned something valuable about an area of your life that matters deeply to you.
Your focus on what’s important to you, plus your humility, plus your questions will lead to increased momentum in your life.
Have a great week, and let me know how it goes!
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kashdan, T. (2009). Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. New York: William Morrow. (Added later>
Swirling a mystery courtesy of qThomasBower