Nurturing a sense of wonder


Your life and your leadership are under control. Predictable and ordered, there are few surprises in your world. A seasoned leader, you’ve created the environment that you want and you’ve made routine your friend.

Your brain loves routine. It allows it to save energy for the higher order things you need to think through – things like vision and how to stay competitive in an increasingly global economy.

Yet… where is the learning in all of this? You love learning new things and you have a sense that fresh knowledge is essential to effective leadership. And what about finding creative solutions to old (and new) problems? This is what got you to where you are now and you miss flexing your learning/creativity muscles.

Yes, things are going well. But you’ve become a bit bored and restless.

Perhaps you’ve lost your sense of wonder, which nurtures learning and curiosity. Wonder inspires you, compels you to take risks and helps you to see beyond the surface.

It can be rekindled. With a little bit of effort, a curious mind, and an intention to discover new and fascinating things, you can start learning and creating again.

Notice those things that strike you with wonder. What is it that you’re curious about? What shakes up your conventional thinking? Whether its mountain climbing, flamenco dancing, living conditions on the South Pole or something else, learn and notice your reaction.

Do something new and challenging. What have you always wanted to try? Find something challenging and notice how you’re filled with wonder at what you can actually accomplish. Set stretch goals for your achievement.

Take a hike. Walk outdoors in beautiful surroundings and become absolutely present with your sense of what you see, hear, smell or touch. Notice the small things that you never noticed before. Look up at the expanse above and observe something new. Be curious about your novel discoveries.

Listen deeply and ask thoughtful questions. When you’re in conversation, try listening instead of waiting to talk. Ask wide-open questions to discover something surprising, unique, or special about others. Learn about what matters to them. Don’t assume you know; be open to surprise.

Read things that you wouldn’t normally read. If you don’t read, start now. What could you read that might help you to gain understanding of viewpoints that will stretch your thinking? What type of material might spark your curiosity or sense of wonder?

Travel. Travelling to someplace you’ve never been is one of the best ways to nurture a sense of wonder. You see things with new eyes, and can be challenged by a different culture and surroundings. Take a vacation to a far-off place that you’ve always wanted to go to.

Open your heart to a sense of wonder by doing things that are outside of your normal routine, especially those that might be challenging. There is no better way to nurture a sense of wonder than shaking up your routine and stepping out of the box. Your ability to continue to lead at your best depends on it.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

5 comments on “Nurturing a sense of wonder

  1. Hi Mary Jo,

    Great reminders. I am following a few of them soon.

    While I have sailed almost my entire life, I have never sailed across an ocean. A week today, I will join my friend Dick Leighton on his sailboat Van Kedisi in the Canary Islands. I am taking extended leave at work so that I can sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados. A dream is coming true.

    I have set up a blog for the adventure. My hope is that we will be able to update it mid-Atlantic. You can follow at:

    Travel, adventure, dreams, and learning. Just what I need for renewal.



  2. Thanks for the reminder Mary Jo! I sense of wonder is needed for innovation to flourish. Your blog reminded me that a couple of years back I wrote about why it’s important to rediscover wonder. I think your blog and mine are very complementary:

    Thanks again!

    Dr. Ada

  3. David, I am so happy for you! A dream come true….how many actually get to realize it. Now you have me wondering what that would be like, and I will take a peak at your site. Happy and safe travels to you, Mary Jo

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