I woke up thinking that in order to be curious, I must be absolutely, totally, in the present moment. To be real, to have its natural power, curiosity must be utterly innocent, without agenda, in timeless space.

After I had these first thoughts about curiosity, I asked myself if they felt true. I thought about it. I decided that I cannot be truly curious if I am in any way distracted: if I’m anxious about whether you will be willing to hear what I have to say — if I’m determined to make you listen to me — if I feel any time press — if I’m sending any covert message in my question — if I have any agenda about the outcome of our conversation. It doesn’t matter if I’m focused on being afraid you won’t respond as I wish or if I’m anticipating how you will respond. It doesn’t matter if I’m motivated by self-interest, a need to control you, blame you, or manipulate you. Nor does it matter if I’m motivated to “help” you or change you because of my care and worry for you.

I decided I believe it is not possible to be defensive or in power struggle if we are in a state of pure curiosity. When I’m stuck in a power struggle for any of the reasons I named above, it doesn’t work to try to be curious or to tell myself that I should be. But what has worked for me and what I’ve been suggesting to others is to ask hypothetically, “If I were truly curious right now, what would I want to know?” It makes me genuinely start to wonder what I would want to know. It frees me from the vice grip of my defensiveness. My morning thoughts give me a deeper understanding of why this question works so well for me — and by their reports, for others. My conclusion is:

Curiosity is an antidote to power struggle.