Social activist and author Alice Walker brilliantly said, “The more I wonder, the more I love.” I also believe that more you WONDER, the better you lead. If you’re curious about ways to boost your effectiveness and impact, put WONDER at the top of your list!
The More You Wonder, the Better You Lead
Recall a time when you experienced a star-studded sky, the miracle of a birth, or a majestic landscape. It brought out a childlike delight in you. You witnessed the extraordinary and felt humbled, awed, enriched, and elevated all at once. That’s WONDER, a priceless capacity already available within you as a resource for living and leading.
WONDER transforms how you perceive the world, no matter who you are or where you live. Approaching situations out of reactivity or fear can cause a tunnel vision that handicaps thinking and decisions, while being in a state of positive awe naturally links to greater comfort with uncertainty, creativity and innovation, an ability to cope with life-work challenges such as isolation and depression, and mental and physical healing.
A state of WONDER is de-centering; it is a gateway to transcending your current views about yourself, others, and the complexities you face, even if for a moment. When you’re immersed in WONDER, you likely feel a healthy self-diminishment—less identified with the ways you usually define yourself and more aware that you are part of something grander—a self-transcending shift that is vital to realizing more of your leadership potential and positive impact.
This is why WONDER is a key dimension in Wisdom Works’ Be Well Lead Well Pulse® assessment, drawing together three out of the assessment’s 19 psychometrics of wellbeing leadership:
- Appreciation & Awe: The extent to which you experience a sense of beauty, curiosity, and enchantment in your daily life.
- Seeking New Perspectives: The extent to which you don’t simply tolerate views that are different from your own, but rather, actively look for opportunities to expand your viewpoints and beliefs.
- Learning & Growing: The extent to which you use the constant changes and “ups and downs” of life to evolve as a human being.
Try these practices to Lead with WONDER
When our team at Wisdom Works measured six dimensions of wellbeing-driven leadership with over 2,000 leaders globally, we found leaders scoring high in WONDER were also more likely to lead from: an inspiring vision, purpose, and values to guide their decisions; greater resilience during stressful times; the use of proactive FUEL behaviors, such as eating, moving, resting, and breathing, to constructively manage their energy and stress; and a deep motivation to energize and maximize the talents of people and teams. WONDER is clearly among the essential capabilities for building and leading thriving workplaces.
Fortunately, WONDER is an orientation and skill that, like its cousin joy, can be cultivated.
Experiment with one or more of these practices:
1. GO WIDE WITH YOUR GAZE.
As our device-heavy culture narrows our focus much of the time, panoramic vision can be revitalizing. And it’s simple to do: While walking through your home, office, or neighborhood, soften and widen your gaze to take in the entirety of your visual field. This different way of seeing, also called optic flow, releases a mechanism in the brain stem involved in vigilance and arousal, relaxing your body-mind system. It invites you to bring a calm curiosity, rather than intense focus, to your world.
2. SHAKE UP THE NORMS.
Give your team permission to forget being serious, at least for a little while, and bring WONDER into the next meeting through positive humor, improvisation, music, nature, or play. The energy of WONDER is not only refreshing; it also reminds us to balance lightness with responsibility.
3. USE WONDER AS A CULTURE-BUILDER.
Encourage your team to ask WONDER-generating questions to break down social and organizational barriers, build healthy relationships, and work through problems effectively. Ask, “What else could be true?” before implementing kneejerk reactions to problems. Hire and reward curiosity. When you make WONDER a cultural norm, you empower vibrancy, connection, and adaptability.
4. START YOUR DAY WITH WONDER.
We humans are creatures of comfort. We are also creatures of exploration. People already actively seek the experience of WONDER, for example, in travels, connections with nature, and an increasing use of psychedelics. Others wait for the external world to stimulate WONDER within them. Perhaps there’s another approach. Ask yourself, “How can I bring an attitude of WONDER to my life, rather than waiting for life to amaze me?” Notice how this question sets the tone for your day. As Socrates once said, “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”