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Discovery is Undervalued. Change My Mind

Last week we got Centered. At least we spoke about its importance. This week's #Go52 theme is Discovery - the undervalued and nearly lost art of finding our way through murky waters.

Discovery is Undervalued

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Ghandi

Just this morning I had the chance to sit down and chat with a group students who are serving as summer interns with a local non-profit organization in the Kansas City area. Our topic, Tapping Into Your Passion. As they told me about their college majors and what they were interested in pursuing as a career, there was a consistent theme. With the exception of one, they all were aligned with a major that was their backup plan. Their true heart or passion was something they spoke about as if it might not be possible to achieve. How had they arrived at their first love? Discovery.

It was through activities in service of others that they had identified something that was a desirable option for them individually. Their majors, while they could find an appropriate tie in, in most instances did not directly connect to their passion. Silver lining: we also spoke about how your passion may or may not be something that is fulfilled through a 9-to-5 position. Fortunately for the interns I met today, they were open to moments of discovery. For much of our society though, we spend so much time wanting to get to the destination that we miss the journey and all that we discover about ourself, others and life along the way.

Why is the Journey important?

Undervaluing Discovery = Missed Opportunities. If we spend all of our time trying to get to the end result, we miss details along the way that prepare us for the results that we seek. So what does that mean? When I reach the destination, I am underprepared for what I'm about to seek or receive.

Half Missing Person: Valuing Discovery

I have worked with students, young and old, who have attempted to skip steps in learning that were essential to building their skills and developing their talents. In the short run, they save time. In the long run, they shortchange themselves and the rest of us. In not allowing a space or the time for discovery, we find ourselves under-qualified for those opportunities that we desire. Often that means a longer path to find it (the opportunity) and sometimes it means a blow to our confidence.

So what would you say if I told you that the art of discovery would help us become stronger people?

How Discovery Develops our Perseverance Muscles

Exploration Yields Self-Discovery: when you readily explore the world around you through service to others or just in general, you learn more about yourself. "Maybe I'm more resilient than I give myself credit for."

Discovery Yields Knowledge: The more I learn about and from others, the more information I am equipped with - be that content specific about a certain subject, or more general knowledge about people and how to work with others.

Knowledge Bolsters Confidence: The greater the sum of what I know, the more confident I am in navigating through, over, and around challenges and working with or for people who are similar to or different from me.

Tree surrounded by still water

So if discovery, equips us with information and build us into more resilient people, shouldn't we elevate its level of importance?

Nurturing Discovery

Increasing the importance of discovery will alter how we create a space to welcome it. Here's how to nurture discovery.

Ask Good (Not Leading) Questions: When you ask questions that might challenge your own assumptions, you allow yourself the opportunity to discover something you had not known before. Be mindful of the reason behind your ask. Are you seeking to prove or disprove something, or are you seeking to learn? Remember, just because you ask a question doesn't mean someone has to answer it. So don't go out their demanding answers of people! In fact, if someone is uncomfortable responding, or if they just don't wish to, you have access to libraries and this thing called the internet...

Allow Others the Opportunity to Ask Questions: Just as you are interested in discovering and learning more through questions, allow others the chance to do so as well. Remember that you are not required to answer the questions asked of you - especially if they are done in malice. But consider a way to provide feedback for those questions you aren't willing to or aren't comfortable answering. Communication is a two way street and your feedback may provide an alternative avenue of discovery that was not considered by those who inquired.

Last but not least...

Be Open to the Answers You Receive: You might receive some answers that challenge what you thought was certain fact. Be open to seeing a situation through another's lens. Does that mean you have to accept it as a new standard? No. But maybe it can help you understand where someone is coming from or why a procedure has been developed into the process you see before you.

It's time to level up discovery. Without it, we'll find ourselves stagnant and missing opportunities to learn about and connect with ourselves and others. In a world where we're already segregating ourselves into more like-minded silos everyday, can we really risk undervaluing something that is pertinent to our progress as human beings? I don't think so, but I'm open to hearing another perspective on the matter.

Still don't believe that discovery is undervalued? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Change my mind.

C. L. Fails

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