Wonder, the 3rd Metric (Part III)

In Arianna Huffington's book Thrive, she shares wisdom and narratives of 4 characteristics that make up the "3rd Metric" of living a successful life in and out of work. In Part III, we discuss Wonder. A couple themes come through in this chapter loud and clear:

  1. If you're wondering how to wonder, the child in nearest proximity to you is handing out pro bono lessons. There are no better wonderers than kiddos.
  2. If you've read up on Huffington's thoughts on Well-Being and Wisdom, you will not be surprised to hear her opinion that our dependence on - and desperate connection to our phones - takes away our sense of wonder.
  3. If you don't allow #1 and #2 to happen, you will miss the ability to see coincidences and synchronicities come together that could completely change your trajectory.

Personally, I've always struggled with wonder - particularly in my work life. There's a goal to achieve, a corresponding list of tasks to complete, and limited time in which to do them. Every minute of the day is scheduled, so what do you do? Schedule time to wonder?

Here are a few ways to experiment with wonder, which I've been testing in my work life. I admit: this is not the the deep kind of wondering that my best friend in college would do when she'd get some supplements from a friend and head to the forest to "ponder in nature." But it's a start :)


What else could it be? When I was writing the Assume Positive Intent post earlier this year, I was discussing it with a friend. She understood what was happening in my work life that created a need to cope differently than I historically had.

She shared a question that her family therapist challenged her to pause and reflect on when it felt like the world was ganging up on her: "What else could it be?"

In other words, is it possible that we're viewing a situation, a bad conversation with our boss, or an upset employee, only through our own lens of the world? Is it possible that there could be other factors at play, about which we know nothing?

This perspective has helped me pause and wonder, "As an objective party, is there any other way to see this situation?"


Ask: Why? I just heard the amazing storyteller Malcolm Gladwell interviewed on the Tim Ferriss show (Carolyn's turned me into quite the Tim junkie). PS - Have you heard Gladwell speak? His voice is SO soothing, yet suspenseful [insert little swoon]. Anyway, I digress...

They talk about the art of asking questions and telling stories. Gladwell cites his father as his example of being the ultimate question-asker. He describes him as a brilliant man (PhD in Mathematics) who has no shortage of intellectual confidence. And for this reason, he has no self-consciousness asking questions like "Why?" over and over to make sure he fully understands.

He uses the example: If my father ever got the chance to speak to Bernie Madoff, he would've single-handedly broke his Ponzi scheme because he would've kept asking "Why?" and "How?" until he was exposed.


Think: Iteration. Through my Digital Transformation work at HEC, I've been chatting with Jon Barnes, who describes himself and his work as: "Soul seeking. Free-range working. Work in progress. Wherever."

His companies Hyper Island and flux relish in applying these concepts to business and challenge people to pause and wonder: "Why are we doing it our current way? What if we did it another way? What could it look like? And what if neither of these ways are wrong? They're an opportunity to focus less on the trajectory and iterate. Then iterate again. Then iterate again..." 


Photo from The Awesomer