Spark Your Curiosity Electricity.
For 36 years I have had the great role of 'explorer of the human condition.’ And the only person I report to directly is my curiosity.
A mentor once said to me ‘Your ‘curiosity electricity’ is infectious’ - this comment got me curious about why and how the main veins of my life have been baked in such inquisitiveness and spontaneous investigation.
The end credits to my curious life film would include seeking out travel and unknown adventures - experiencing new people, places, spaces and senses. Then add in some career pivots and direction changes that were laced with challenge and reward, all collecting self awareness to fuel future curious missions. Next up would be ‘Could’s’ over ‘Should’s’ - a simple but effective filter to cross-check if your curious life decisions are based on societal and cultural expectations or your deepest inner yearnings, desires, unfulfilled dreams - and curiosities. Finally - and arguably the most impactful and important element to my curious existence is this - listening to all ages for continual learning and intergenerational wisdom sharing.
My ‘curiosity electricity’ can often be sparked through intergenerational connections, collaborations and serendipitous conversations - yes, pulling your curiosity card has no age bounds.
How can you ignite your ‘curiosity electricity’?
This is how I have cultivated a life of rich intergenerational curiosities, connections and friendships. It is not a “one size fits all” formula - it’s a custom build so to speak.
Open your ears, eyes, heart and mind
We have forgotten to listen. Set aside your agenda, calendar, schedule and watch the serendipity start to spark. 80% of human connection is non-verbal so we need to show we are open to listening, not just with our ears but also with our eyes (especially if masked up) and our hearts. Park your generational judgments and take a fun ride on the intergenerational highway - meaningful exchanges can happen in the most surprising ways if you remain open. Take the time to listen, to ask questions. To connect. It all starts by simply listening.
Humanity trumps ageism
The generation shaming/blaming is dividing our societies, politics, workplaces, families and communities. How might we build bridges across these divides? People's beliefs change as the world evolves but what stays the same? Our humanity, and what it means to be human. My secret bridge-building skill is seeking ‘deeply personal, but deeply universal.’ Use your curiosity to find common human ground - something that has no age bounds. Love, health, identity, courage, grief, purpose, loneliness or failure - my life has been an intergenerational wave of wisdom exploring these topics and exchanging perspectives. Keep your eyes open for what unites us, over what divides us.
Get in the ‘Go for it boat’
My endless curiosity and championing of intergenerational engagement is driven by my personal KPI’s of courage. The ‘Go for it boat’ is when you are up and open to everything and anything. Say yes more. Yes to life. Events, places, experiences or people - you never really know what gifts you will be delivered - just get in that ‘go for it boat’! Serendipity can be easily orchestrated if curiosity leads instead of fear. If I had over-analyzed some of my life decisions I would have blocked beautiful moments of pure unexpected joy. Lessons, wisdom, ideas, connections can be delivered in abundance if you just say yes more.
Be the black sheep
I intentionally put myself in situations where I feel ‘different’ - and there is magic in this discomfort. We know ‘like attracts like’ - but true ‘curiosity electricity’ is ignited by difference. Different ages, stages or wages - situations that force you to expand your beliefs and perspectives are like fuel on your curiosity fire. If you remain in the ‘same same’ cocoon of people who are similar to you, your curiosity electricity is blocked. Some of my greatest, most thrilling experiences have been simply by striving to be the black sheep. From being one of the youngest compadres at MEA, to being one of the few females at a mine processing plant, to being the only western female at the yoga retreat, to being the tech worker volunteering on the streets at night feeding the homeless. Stop trying to follow the herd and start channeling your black sheep energy.
Here is your permission slip of encouragement to infuse more intergenerational magic in your life. A life of age diversity offers us the gift of lifelong learning, personal growth and perspectives that foster meaningful connections.
How will you spark your curiosity electricity today?
If you are curious to gain more intergenerational tools and methods in your work and personal life, join Chip, Jeff, Charlotte and me for MEA’s first intergenerational workshop in Baja on June 5-12, 2022.
Nim de Swardt is a MEA Alum, founder of the WIN|WIN and passionate advocate for intergenerational wisdom sharing.