We live in a world that’s complex; that’s fast moving; that’s disruptive. And if we sit in a world singularly concerned with continuous improvement, we’re going to live in a world where business is actually decaying. Instead we must be thinking beyond improvement into something completely different.
Wonder is the source of movement, of innovation, of new commercial frontiers. Great leaders must have a sense of wonder in order to keep vitality in their organizations.
Consider what Alexander Graham Bell had to think about in order to create the telephone. He had to wonder about the possibility of sending voices through a wire. It had never been done before. That was wonder!
After creating this fascinating device, Alexander had to have courage. In 1876 after sending a prototype to Western Union, he received this memo in response: “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
So even though he wondered and created; he also required courage. He had to stand by what he believed was possible. He had to stand by what he thought would be extraordinary into the future, even in the face of rejection. Wonder and courage must go hand in hand.
Wonder is the antidote to arrogance. Arrogance in the sense of “I already know” or “We did that yesterday” or “it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.” Wonder helps us sit in the current reality and think of a possibility without any doubt of “if” it is possible. We have to lean into that tension and create something that hasn’t been created before. Something that’s unexpected, that’s special, and remarkable.
Think about the last time you felt wonderful – full of wonder. There’s a hint of magic in that, there’s a lightness of being. It actually changes your brain.
Wonder is also about generosity. We have to be generous when we’re in wonder. I have to be generous with your crazy, wacky idea. You’ve got to be generous with mine.
Wonder is unshackled competence. Wonder is how to be perfectly present in the future. Wonder is one of the critical factors for amazing, brilliant, commercial success and it is a necessary promise for a valuable, connected leader to keep and create.