A little over five years ago I first heard this Brenda Chaddock interview with Dawna Markova and Charles Holmes about their views on inspirational leadership.
Throughout the hour Inner Me grew increasingly excited and exclaimed “Yes! Exactly!” over and over.
Here I’d found others who shared the same perspective about questions, mastery and mystery, and expressed their ideas with powerful simplicity.
Markova starts with the path to mastery.
Provocative questions are those with a known answer. The unspoken assumption is an answer can be right or wrong.
Correctly answer enough questions and mastery is reached, or at least an agreed upon level of competence.
The underlying motivation is being right enough times, according to what’s known, to be deemed good or complete.
The second path to mystery begins with a different type of question.
In asking open-ended evocative questions, an invitation is extended to step into the unknown or go beyond appearances.
Without right or wrong to gauge against, the element of the not knowing is introduced. If an answer isn’t right or wrong, what type of answer will there be?
Hence the mystery begins.
By entering the unknown together, our relationships change.
We shift out of master-student into becoming companions, setting out to see differently and explore new territory off the beaten path.
We become inspired to bring forward the gifts in each other, discover what really matters to us and create new possibilities for the future.
The most important point of the interview might very well be when Markova brought mastery and mystery together in saying
I think the understanding we all need to have is that when we are so habituated to mastery, that we view mystery as something to be avoided rather than something to be engage.
Framing mastery as a habit instead of the ultimate goal changes the game. The door opens a crack – or is flung wide open.
Habits are something we become unconscious about, put on auto-pilot.
When we step back to think about mastery again, we realize not everything is meant to be mastered.
Mastery is what we know, what is familiar, but not necessarily what’s required.
When we look at the unknown as a mystery to be discovered and revealed, we free ourselves from expectations.
We free ourselves from being frozen in place by needing first to know and be right about every last detail.
Pieces are gathered along the way.
Right and wrong don’t come into play when looking at what is. Meaning is assigned afterwards, if at all.
Instead, our curiosity inspires and urges us to see what’s around the next corner and beyond the next step.
We dis cover what has always been there rather than having to figure out everything ourselves.
With two types of inquiry at our disposal, now we can select the best tool for the situation at hand.
Mastery is the path of choice when we want repeatable results.
Discovery is the direction to head when we don’t know, want to know more or want something new.
To become more of ourselves is inherently a risk. We don’t know what we’ll find or who we’ll look like.
Ever evolving means letting go of the right vs wrong of repeatable results and stepping into the unknown to create the next realm of possible.
From that perspective, can we ever achieve mastery of Life?
What if instead, we become increasingly more skilled as explorers discovering the next greatest unfolding of who we really are.
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