|  Development   |  Living in Wonder
Nancy Choi

Living in Wonder

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom”

– Socrates

Most of us feel a pressure to know things, to understand our world, to make predictions, and to be seen as competent.  It makes us feel safe.  I remember a social conversation with a young man this year who put pressure on himself to be seen as the smartest person in the room.    His role models (like Elon Musk) appeared confident to him because they always speak with certainty.  Like they know more than others and therefore have authority on all topics.  This young man admitted that he struggled with having connection with others by being this way in his work and life.  He was asking himself questions about whether the leadership style role-modeled to him was actually that great.  

Living and leading in this way sucks the joy and connection out of the room.  It does something to our relationships: it brings distance, competition, and division.  It does something to us: we feel isolated, performative, and stressed.

The good news is, in today’s modern landscape we can embrace diverse ways of living and leading.  It takes courage.  It takes authenticity.  It takes commitment.  But the payoff can be more joy, more connection, more presence, and just as much (if not more) effectiveness.  

Today, I’d like to take some time talking about navigating the world in a state of Wonder.

Wonder is a state of mind in which we can be with questions without needing to know the answers or needing to solve anything. We stay open to what’s here and what it is teaching us.  We let go of pressure, and get curious about all the things we do not yet know.  What happens to our bodies in this state?  Our nervous system relaxes and we are able to stay open, spacious, and impartial.  

living in wonder
Photo taken during a walk in a forest in Netherlands

In this last newsletter of 2023, I’d like to suggest that we cultivate more Wonder in our lives as we turn the corner into the New Year.  

What would that look like?

  • Staying with the deeper questions that are emerging for you in this season of life without needing immediate answers
  • Listening to others with a deep wondering about their experience
  • Letting yourself be awestruck by the bigness of the Universe and the abundant possibilities that lie ahead
  • Embracing the unknown and staying open-minded
  • Examining the assumptions you hold that drive your choices and behaviors

It may sound like being in a state of Wonder is about disassociation from life or being irresponsible, but it’s actually quite the opposite.  This state of Being propels people into action from a place of curiosity and awe. It leads people to experiment, learn, and stay agile without fear of making mistakes.  It helps people trust the path unfolding in each moment.

Let’s say you have 2 leaders looking at a business: one of them looks at it with immense wonder and the other with a rigid view from past experiences.  What do you think will happen under each leader?  The leader who stays in wonder is able to adapt and innovate better in the fast-changing landscape of today.  The leader who knows all the answers from the past will eventually fall behind because innovation requires awe and curiosity.  This is not to say that work ethic, accountability and action-orientation aren’t important.  This is simply about mindset!

Imagine what it would be like to live your life in 2024 with 10%, 20%, 30% more wonder.  I suspect you’d have more moments of being awestruck by life and you’d be more present to enjoy those moments.

👉🏼 As you go through the New Years workbook, stay in a state of wondering about what’s possible for you. Create New Years plans but hold them lightly.  Let life surprise and delight you.  In the “Future” section of the workbook, commit to habits and practices that can keep you in wonder this year.

👉🏼 If you know anyone who would benefit from this end-year message, please send them this post as a gift.

I’m in awe of the journey we’ve been on together with MX.  Thank you for inspiring me.  I wish you and loved ones a happy holidays!

-Nancy, your friendly neighborhood Millennial Executive

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