Playground Perspective: Wet Feet

It's sometimes hard to stay engaged with a child when their need for explanation exceeds either a) your knowledge or b) your patience.

Welcome toanother chapter in the Book of Why.

I say book because I'm pretty sure we're only on Chapter Two, and that the storyline will get progressively complicated (and perhaps frustrating) as it proceeds. After all, Thea's only four-and-a-half. Right now her questions are pretty basic and straightforward.

It's fascinating to watch her nimble mind navigate and grow. Six months ago, she would be horrified when a single drop of water "ruined" her clothes. This morning, she danced in the rain on our patio in her pajamas, and then took me on a "mud puddle adventure splashing walk". We came home soaked and happy.

Along the walk, I entertained dozens of questions that have popped up in recent weeks. "Why is it raining, Dad?" "But where does it come from?" "But where do the clouds come from?" "But why is it raining, Dad?"

It really is that circular.

But her curiosity isn't limited to questions, and her quest for knowledge isn't a one-way conversation. Not long after her rain dance, and our puddle walk, we headed to the back trails of Bryan Park with our dog, Rilo. Thea called it our "thirty and one mile adventure nature hike". (We're still working on numbers.)

Along the way she asked about hawks, about sticks, about snakes, about the interstate, about the effect of rain on creeks and about Rilo's ability to ride a bike. ("But what about the dog we saw in the wheelchair, Dad? Rilo could do a doggy wheelchair.") She explained why she was running out of energy, why Rilo needed to be on her leash and why it would be a bad idea for the dog to get stung by a bee on our walk -- "She's special to me, Dad. And she might be sad if she gets stung."

Quite a departure from the toddler whose endless litany of "why" two years ago was probably just an evolutionary quest to build vocabulary. And quite exhausting. When you fight it.

Rolling with my daughter's flow, and appreciating her endless need for context and understanding, can be exhausting, no doubt. But it is also stimulating and important. And it is not so different from one of the biggest two-way challenges of so many of the organizations Floricane encounters.

I continue to be surprised at the number of people in management roles whose curiosity is so limited, and who fight the need of their employees for context and understanding. The struggle is often reinforced by employees who are afraid to ask "why" or who struggle to articulate their need for information. What's worse? When the answers -- the information, the context, the clarity -- live within the organization, and no one is asking any questions.

We suck the life out of our organizations when we lose the capacity for curiosity. We suck the life out of our relationships the same way.

Imagine how empty my life as a parent would be if my child had no questions. Imagine how empty her life would be if I exhibited no interest in her questions. Imagine if all of our conversations were one-way, or even worse, that we had no conversations at all.

Now imagine that your workplace was as rich, stimulating, non-stop and amusing as my walks with Thea. Go ahead, feed your curiosity.