Wad’a’ya mean!?

Last week’s blog by Mike Noel-Smith drew on a voyage by Leif Ericson, the Norse sea-farer, to trigger some reflections on leadership. It generated some great discussion.

Some people embraced an interpretation around courage, focus and persistence. Others held Leif up as a rather mad, reckless bully.

As with all stories the blog was simply an invitation to readers to engage and derive their own meaning. There is no “right” answer.

It got me thinking about our capacity for inquiry – how we engage and the way we develop meaning.

What meaning do we make at first pass? And is that it? Do we stop and pronounce our belief there? Are we able to cycle some more? Sleep on it. Shift a bit perhaps?

How does the meaning we make develop as we engage further – perhaps reading more closely, noticing bits we missed, reflecting a bit, maybe discussing with others? How long do we stay open and curious and play with possibilities before we close and stick with a point of view? How strongly do we stick?

What are the circumstances in play when we inquire, stick, and act? Is there a pressing need to converge on a decision, and act quickly? What about those occasions when a more creative, divergent process might serve us better?

How aware are we of our perceptual biases? How fully do we see, hear and feel what is being said or written? What is evident, and what are we blind, deaf and insensitive to? Who helps us notice what we don’t notice?

What metaphors do we habitually use; what mental models jump into being; what inferences do we automatically make? How fully are we “in the moment”, or are we thinking into the future? Can we do both perhaps? How small or big, simple or complex is the context we position our thinking in? Are we dealing with tactical symptoms or are we playing in a wider system or ecology?

There are books and books on this stuff.

My invitation is simply to consider how you show up in this world, and to consider what is possible for you and those around you with a more inquiring approach.

Dave Stewart

The Fresh Air Learning Company