There's been a ton of social media attention on vulnerability lately, probably stemming from the compelling and very popular work of Brené Brown. She talks about vulnerability as a way to create authentic relationships and connection.
What's significant to me is that vulnerability creates openness and give us some freedom and courage to be curious. Curiosity requires vulnerability.
To be curious we have to be willing to enter the space of "I don’t know" or "I don’t understand." We have to be okay with not knowing. Actually, we have to be more than okay; we have to welcome that feeling of unknowing, even pursue it.
When we're curious we're not trying to predict what the answers are; we are completely available for learning, whether we personally agree with what we learn or not.
A bridgeI love the idea of curiosity as the bridge to understanding. My daughter recently experienced some intense anxiety about a friendship and whether this friend still accepted her. The friend seemed to be acting reserved and unwelcoming toward her. Her fear of rejection caused her to imagine the worst. With some vulnerability, and a good hunk of courage, she was able to approach this friend and ask what was going on. She could have held to her anxious assumptions, but she let curiosity open her up and help her seek understanding from her friend.
Having the courage to ask why isn’t easy. In an intense political climate asking questions can feel like precarious business, but curiosity encourages us to seek out and consider another point of view. Vulnerability allows us to put our own views aside instead of fearfully defending them. Defensiveness blocks our ability to hear another perspective and blocks our ability to be curious about what drives the alternate view. Being bravely curious doesn't mean we want to be swayed, it means we really want to learn. We want to open our mind and go deeper into understanding. Understanding builds community. It builds connection. Curiosity makes it possible to find common ground. It is a bridge of communication and understanding.
A launch padBrené Brown also said, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change." Vulnerability gives us the ability, the super power, to be curious. It is curiosity that then allows us to learn, to experiment, to try things. To see what happens, even if it might lead to a failure. To seek an answer that might leave us devastated, or accountable, or down an even more mysterious path.
In product development, curiosity allows us to peel back more layers to understand the emotions at play, the decisions being prioritized, in a product experience. Curiosity builds the wide open intersection for ideas to spark, creating new connection points across technology and user insights. What if? How? Why? It is the access door to whole new ways of thinking about a problem. Curiosity is a brave, hopeful launching pad into the unknown.