I was on the train last week, heading into the CBD. As we pulled into Wellington station, the lady sitting next to me caught my eye. She launched into a mini-rant about racism and how she couldn’t believe we hadn’t solved this problem yet. “It’s the 21st century! We should have this sorted by now, don’t you think?”

It would have been so easy for me to have simply smiled, stood up and got on my way. Instead, for some reason, I looked back at her and said, “Wow, you’re really angry about this, aren’t you?” We ended up getting off the train together and walked, deep in conversation, for the next 10 minutes, until one of us had to part ways. I found out that she worked for an organisation I’d been curious to learn more about, and she’d been reading my stuff over the years. She ended up inviting me to come and speak to her organisation about the work I do, and to get a feel for the work they do. Very cool.

On the train, I had a definite moment of choice. One choice was to judge her, to step away and have nothing to do with her. The other was to lean into curiosity. I’m glad I chose the latter.

As we look out into the world with all its problems, it’s easy to judge. It’s easy to judge the government’s actions. It’s easy to judge those other people. It’s easy to judge the younger version of you that did those dumb things. Right?

The problem with judgment is that it makes it all about ‘the other’, and nothing to do with us today. When we judge, we don’t need to take responsibility for anything. It’s their fault, it’s their problem, it’s their drama. And we lose the opportunity both to learn, and to shape the future. We stay stuck as we are. And things stay stuck as they are. Nothing changes.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t take a stand for things we believe in. It means we balance confidence (we know what we know), with wonderance (we know we don’t know it all).

Judgment closes. Curiosity opens.


What would happen if we chose curiosity over judgment more often?


What if we listened more to what makes us defensive, angry, or confused? 


What if we defined our responses as questions rather than as assertions? 


What if we then followed those questions? 


What if we then hosted conversations that explored the issues fully? 


What do you think would happen then?


My guess? Learning. Shaping. Change.


Whether it be the person you sit next to at work, the issue you hear about on the news, or how you think you’re no good, just stop for a moment. Get off the judgment train.

And get on the curiosity one. It’s a better ride.


For more on how to be curious, check out my series of posts, starting here.



Photo by: Madison Inouye from Pexels

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