Strange Creatures and Fearless Questioning

In my dream last night, I was standing by the Pacific Ocean in Northern California.
Smooth rocks greeted the ocean, while the waves patiently tapped the earth.
To my right, in the water I saw the white face of what appeared to be a polar bear break the surface.
Two young guys reached down to pet the bear’s head.
I thought:  That’s dangerous. Those guys are crazy. Polar Bears eat people.
What’s a polar bear doing in Northern California? It’s not cold enough here.

Next scene, the bear had climbed out of the water and was on a large boulder next to and above me.
The bear was very large and now I could see it had dark fluffy fur, with a white face.
I thought:
Is that a panda bear? I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s big and looks threatening.
My friend next to me informed me that she thought it was a brown bear.
We backed slowly away because great speed would alarm it and perhaps provoke an attack.

Next scene, behind the boulder an SUV was parked.
The “bear” had climbed into the back seat and was leaning into the front, happy and licking its owner in the driver’s seat.
“What is that?” I asked to the owner.
He explained the breed of dog – large like a bear, but fluffy like a poodle, and harmless like a stuffed animal.
I petted the dog, enjoyed the friendly exchange, and said goodbye to the owner.

End of dream.

In life we encounter all sorts of new and strange creatures – a new boss, a stranger on the street, new environments. We have the tendency to approach these strange creatures with a mix of fear and curiosity.  Fear can be good because it keeps us safe from obviously dangerous situations. It keeps us from petting the polar bear.

The curiosity in us asks the questions about what we are seeing that we don’t completely understand. The curiosity inside us asks “Why are those guys petting that thing on the head?”  Curiosity is good, it’s the thing that keeps us learning and growing.

The problem comes when the fear trumps the urge to vocalize the question. When this happens, we keep our curiosity inside. We ask the question inside but we are afraid to externalize it.  Our thirst for knowledge (our question) goes unanswered.

What I propose for this new world we’re building is Fearless Questioning. Fearless Questioning is when the urge of curiosity trumps the fear we have inside.  Fearless Questioning leads us to ask questions out loud because we are not afraid of the answer, or afraid we will look stupid or silly.  Fearless Questioning makes us yell across the rocks “Hey, What is that Strange Creature you’re petting?”  Fearless Questioning creates the opportunity to learn something new, to start a new conversation, to make a new connection.  In short, Fearless Questioning creates.

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