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Curiosity, Fuel for Creativity and Diversity


That theme has been coming up a lot for me lately.

On the eve of a Women’s Summit presentation in Denver last month, I chatted with a friend, CEO John Gavan (if you’re curious how I met John, our story is here) and asked him how a middle aged privileged, cis-gender, straight, white man like him became the driver of DEI-A in his organization.

It’s clear his passion for the professional development program he co-founded, Leaderflow, runs deep. But how did it emerge? Why did he stand it up?

His answer struck me back then and it’s returned to my consciousness again this week.

He said CURIOSITY! When he took over as CEO of his company, he genuinely wondered why there weren’t more perspectives, more diversity, more people of color and more women at the table in the Architecture, Engineering and Contracting (AEC) space. So he started asking questions. Those questions led to some answers about the opportunities that were, or were not, available for BIPOC professional engineers. It also became obvious that there were external structures and internal beliefs obstructing the much needed and well deserved advancement for all people in AEC. There will be more to share about Leaderflow as the co-founder, Janiece Williams, has become a confidant for me and a valuable member of the EWC Advisory Board. She will be gracing us with her beautiful presence in our Fall Season speaker series in December.

This week, I was struck by another experience of how curiosity opens the door to creativity when I was interviewed by Ramana Annamraju on his show MedBricks (live on LinkedIn here).

On the show Ramana shares his story of turning a very stressful situation into curiosity and we discussed how curiosity can alleviate a stressful situation for a number of reasons.

First, it snaps us out of a fixed mindset where nothing good can happen. When we are catastrophizing and sitting in the belief that nothing can change…well…then nothing can change. But when we become curious and start asking questions, we open ourselves up to the possibility that things could be different.

When we keep asking questions, we start to see creative answers and innovative solutions to the situation that once seemed impossible.

I experienced this shift from fixed to growth mindset in a tangible way when our home flooded in 2017 with Hurricane Harvey. When I started asking my husband and myself what “ideal” would look like in that dreaded situation, I realized we could co-create a new life in a new home. And that’s what we did. Within 3 months we were living on an acreage, feeling safe and secure and loving our surroundings again. We could never replace the valuable possessions and family memories that were lost but we could start over and rebuild.

Gene Kranz, NASA flight director of the Apollo 13 mission, experienced this when his team was determining how long the crew would live on the oxygen available and he stated,

“Failure is not an option”

He asked how to use the items on-board to extend the breathable air and get the crew home. His curiosity led to a solution that saved the 3 crew members' lives. Such a remarkable story of curiosity and creativity!

In this show you will hear more about turning stress into curiosity.

You will also hear about Lead Poisoning and several women warriors who didn’t give in to the men who were focused on speed, money and success. Through their work, these incredible women saved the lives of children and enforced changes to protect the lives of generations to come. We are all benefiting from the crusading of Dr. Alice Hamilton, Jane Addams and Mona Hanna-Attisha and many more.

Curious? Listen here.


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