Confessions of a TELLaholic

We recently published an article in Huffington Post on confessions of a TELLaholic.  Read it below or find the original post directly on Huffington Post – Confessions of a TELLaholic.

I was once a TELLaholic. I loved to tell everyone what to do. I was a sergeant major with my kids, directing them to do everything. They never had to think for themselves; my husband, likewise. As long as I was in command, I could control what they did and how they did it. I made sure they dressed in a way that reflected well on our family, what they said and how they acted showed they had manners. I was in control and I knew as long as I kept control, everything was OK.

At work I directed everyone all day. I made sure everyone did everything in the way I thought it should be done because after all, everyone should know I was effective and thus my way of doing things was the best way. My truth was the wise truth. I was an effective leader because I constantly directed everyone to do what needed to done and kept at them until I knew they had completed the tasks in a way that worked, that reflected well on me as their leader. At home and at work, if someone had a problem, even a personal one, I was able to give advice by telling them what they should, in some cases, must do.

And then one day my kids became teenagers and I noticed they seemed to tune me out. It didn’t matter how often I told them what to do and how to do it, they seemed to ignore me. At work, people seemed to be transferring to other areas and I couldn’t understand why. The leaders in the areas that were apparently more desirable seemed to me directionless and somewhat chaotic in their management of people. Employees were able to do work in various ways, deviating from the traditional way it had always been completed. So I thought why would people want to transfer to such dysfunctional areas? Didn’t they know there was one right way to do things and I knew what that was!

I was puzzled and then came across a few leadership blogs that showed me there might be a different way to lead. Similarly, it seemed there was a different way to parent.

What was this new way? It involved understanding others by listening to their perspectives, asking questions to better understand what their ideas were and trusting them and empowering them to complete work in a way that worked for them. The articles indicated that people prefer to work more independently, developing solutions that work for them and still manage to meet the goals of the team. It seems the leader does not have to know all the answers if he or she is curious, asks questions, listens, is present and trusts employees to complete work in their own way.

Did this mean I did not need to know all the answers? What a difference this would make to my life. This means I could actually complete work that was expected of me without working 60-hour weeks. I could have more time with my family.

Meanwhile back at home, I learned I could do the same thing. My kids really like it when I listen to what they had to say, being present and focused on them without judging them or telling them what to do or how to do it. If I ask open questions, I am able to explore, discover their perspectives and better understand where they are coming from. They seem to respond well to this approach and actually sit down to have conversations with me. My husband seems very happy with the ‘new’ me. He jokes at times about missing me nagging him although I don’t think he really does. He seems to be able to figure out how to do things on his own without me telling him what to do and how to do it. I am beginning to think maybe this telling thing is overrated.

Being curious has definitely changed things up a bit and created opportunities to better understand others, and support them in accessing their own ideas and perspectives. Being curious allows others to think for themselves, find their own solutions, solutions to which they will be held accountable. Curiosity creates freedom where one no longer needs to control everything, and it messages that one understands and believes in others. I know I feel freer, happier and much more connected to my family, my colleagues and my friends. That is the power of curiosity.

Kathy Taberner and Kirsten Taberner Siggins are the authors of The Power of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding. Together they founded the Institute Of Curiosity, a coaching and training organization that helps individuals learn and apply the skills of curiosity to personal and professional relationships.

CURIOSITY: Making Hope Possible Rather Than Despair Convincing

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing” – Raymond Williams (Welsh novelist & critic 1921-88)

So much of what makes hope possible or despair convincing is in the words, messages, and body language we use, hear or interpret in our communication and building of our relationships. Curiosity creates hope and that begins with you. Continue reading

How To Use Curiosity To Create The Change We Need

I have been reading Naomi Klein’s latest book ‘This Changes Everything’ (Alfred A. Knope Canada 2014), a book I would highly recommend. Even though it comes in at close to 500 pages, every page is well researched and her general message is one of optimism about the future of our planet. In it, Klein suggests humans have been trying to conquer nature for the past 300 years, using it to for our purposes, even at its expense and that of humans. Evidence of this includes cutting down the rainforests, removing minerals from the earth, destroying the landscape, while having little regard for animals, vegetation and water. When we look at where our world is at and where it is heading, we quickly understand this approach isn’t working.

Klein talks about a need for humans to live in partnership with nature, respecting all aspects of it and working to support it so sustainability is possible for every living species. This requires us to understand how nature works, and what it needs to be resilient and hence sustainable. With understanding comes respect for all species, respect that leads to sustainability for all.   As I read Klein’s book I couldn’t help but connect her thoughts on this larger issue with our work (smaller scale) and wondered – just how much understanding of our earth does each of us actually have?   Based on our experience in leadership development alone, most of us rarely take the time to understand each other on a daily basis, let alone the time to understand other species.  How will humans ever see the value of understanding other species if they rarely see the value of understanding their own, be it family, colleagues, bosses, or friends?   I think we can all agree we all want the planet to remain habitable, not only for ourselves, but for future generations as well. What no one seems to agree on is how exactly to do it.

So we wondered, what do we do so we can move from our current need to conquer nature, and each other, to a place where we seek to understand and respect it? We have no idea ‘what’ is needed specifically to get there, however we do know one of the basic strategies of ‘how’ to get there is curiosity.

If the human race can shift from telling others what to do, shift from a position of imposing ‘power over’ each other and nature, and move to a place where we seek to understand one another, we will be moving towards respect for, and partnership with nature, a move towards sustainability of our planet Earth.

Only when we are curious can we be present to fully listen to what is being said, suspend judging to learn from others, and ask the open, curious questions required to help us all begin to change the paradigm of conquer and control to one of partnering which can lead to respect, understanding and sustainability. That is the power of curiosity and everyday we all hold that power to make change.

We cannot rely on politicians, CEOs, large organizations and/or other seats of power to create the needed change for our planet any more than we can rely on them to create the change needed in our individual lives. We need to begin acting in a curious way, each one of us, being open to how we can show up differently, how we can connect with others, understanding larger needs and forming communities that can create the momentum needed to start to move towards sustainability. Every single person on the planet is responsible for this and can help.

As Margaret Mead once said: “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”


  • What do you know about global warming?
  • How can you find out more?
  • How curious are you about other species you share your world with?
  • How much do you understand about them?
  • What are you doing to support sustainability of our planet Earth for us, for our children and future generations?

Share with us below!