The Surprising Truth about What Surprises You

“Stop, stop, stop. I don’t care. You’ve not been taking a minute yet and I’m ready to check my phone for something more interesting.”
That’s me abruptly interrupting  a practice presentation. I’ve been coaching, technical people and the only way to shake them loose from a methodical droning of white noise is to stop them quickly and then ask, “What surprised you the most with the project? Why?” The switch flips, it gets exciting, there is a story, a conversation. From there, we go from dull presentation to engaging the story. There used to be this formula, about establishing your credibility, blah, blah, blah. No, stop that. Tell me why I care at the start, engage me, because your competition is my phone.

But, presentations is  not the point of this post. It’s the question. “What did you experience in the last 6 months that was totally unexpected and surprised you? Why?” It has become so routine to ask this at work, the thought floated through my head Sunday afternoon. The answer to what surprised me was immediate, light hearted and glib. The why was dark, and exposed my preconceived conventions, biases and a dangerous pattern I’d fallen into. Basically, I was shook. That’s a good thing. I have some things to work on as a result. This week, ask yourself the question, “What did I experience in the last 6 months that was totally unexpected and  surprised me? Why?”



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