The best tool you have in your toolbox is going to be your curiosity. So many of us focus on the path ahead, or our current situation, or revel in the past. It seems like a direct path–Past->Present->Future–we focus on so much that we don’t enjoy the view.
Imagine yourself on a mountain hike
If you cannot see the vista around you, what do you focus on? The path ahead of you. Looking at this picture, why would you wish to continue? This is not a rhetorical question.
- You’re already on the path, you might as well finish it.
- Maybe the fog will lift and you’ll get a beautiful view.
- You’ve been on this path for a while, it may be shorter to get to the end than to turn around.
- You like the fog and the muffled sounds that make it better to think.
- You’ve seen the brochure so you know where the path ends, and you still want to continue
Now look at this path. Do you see a clear path to the lake? No? Now your focus is on the destination of the hike. Why do you wish to continue now?
- You want to get closer to see that unearthly blue lake and those pure icebergs.
- Your feet and legs hurt and you hope there’s a bench.
- You wish to get to a point where you can lose yourself in the scenery.
- You want to hear the birds and animals and feel the breeze on your face.
What’s interesting is that when you search for mountain path pictures, most will focus on the current path to the location, and then the pictures at the location. What about the hike back to the beginning? Nobody turns around to look back where they’ve come.
Did you know that Riverboat pilots have to learn the river both downstream and upstream because the same point in the river looks differently depending on your direction? This is the same on a mountain path hike. The trip home will look different. But our goal was to get to the destination. TADA! We already know what our starting point looked like. We’ve already traveled on the path to the destination, what’s there left to see?
You’re familiar with the path; you’re familiar with the destination, but did you see all these flowers and trees and this mountain on your way to the highlight of the hike? Did you see the marmots at the small spring? Did you see the bear markings on the trees? Did you hear the woodpecker in the copse of trees? Did you get a glimpse of the mountain goats high above your pathway? Did your curiosity pull your eyes off the ground, off your destination, out of your head and into your environment? Did you stop to smell these flowers and the trees? Could you hear the voices from other hikers ahead and behind you?
Years from now, if you let your curiosity guide you, if you are in the moment, if you can appreciate the miracles around you, when you close your eyes, you can see and feel and smell this journey. You have access to it in a second. If you decide you want to go back there, it won’t be the same things that catch your eye.
Awareness is sparked by curiosity. How do these people interact? What is the environment that makes everyone glad to be there? What do these people have in common? What kinds of stories do they enjoy? Curiosity is expressed in questions. For instance, on our hike, we ask, “I wonder what’s up there? What is that amazing smell? Do bears like skittles?” Curiosity does take practice, however. Your focus in any Toastmasters meeting needs to be in the moment. What is the body language; where do they focus their gaze; can you tell if they are passionate about the subject? What is the audience’s reaction? Are they engaged with the speaker? And like our hikes, every meeting is going to be slightly different.
As coaches, we need to be aware of the dynamics of the clubs we coach. But we also need to help the members develop that awareness, too. If they can develop this skill, their recruiting techniques will improve because they will know how to attract people to their clubs. They will know on the deepest levels what makes their club tick and how to enhance that environment to not only recruit, but retain their members.
Let yourself be curious!