Curiosity and Intellect

'Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.'
...Socrates

It was not her best day, thanks to me. Nor, frankly, was it one of mine.

It was 1958, my Junior year of high school, in a small semi-rural western Oregon town. Ultimately there were 63 students in my graduating class. Most assumed I was way better than I was, as I graduated toward the bottom of my class.

There was a creative curiosity in me that just wouldn’t stop. In fact, by some quirk I had taught myself to type on those ancient manual Royal typewriting machines. A former assistant to my father had let me play with her typewriter when much younger. Both curiosity and play led me to an odd way to type, which in some manner I still do.

Of course, today’s students seem to do the wonder-filled action of typing with their thumbs at lightening speed. Amazing…to the max…to this olde man.

That day the typing teacher kicked me out of class for typing the “wrong way,” even though I was leading the class in getting almost 100% accuracy, which had been her stated goal. Again, not my best moment, but in class I questioned her if typing her “wrong way” and not being accurate was her ultimate goal. Not smart.

That found me standing in the hall for the rest of the class. On my exit she exploded, with the whole class listening with more attention than they had ever given her, and told me that I would never amount to anything, would never get a degree, and I was no longer welcome in any of her classes…ever. That sounded like a relief to me then…and now.

So, standing outside in the hall, I was discovered by the Principal, Mr. Manning (who also had taught me math, and knew math was not one of my better subjects either). “Well, Mr. Roberts, what has you standing here? Let’s go to my office and have a chat.”

In today’s lingo, Mr. Manning “got me.” After telling him what happened, with him taking notes on what the teacher had said, he responded, “I want to give you a typing test to see for myself. I know you know you shouldn’t be smarting off to a teacher, but before I talk with her why don’t you show me how you type.”

And so I did. And he said two things to me.

“How do you do that, with only one mistake? Fascinating.”

“I’m not taking sides here. You’re not the best student in the school, grade-wise, but I have to believe you are the most curious and creative student we have. Never lose that. I’ve no doubt but what you will graduate from college some day. The world is bigger than our little town. Go explore it.”

And so I did. And so I have.

The day I graduated from college in 1967, when I got my diploma tucked under my arm and shook the hand of the school president, the craziest memory flooded my mind. Later I told my bride (of two months at that time…) that when I grasped that diploma I almost said out loud, “Mrs. K., this one’s for you! And you were wrong.” What startled me is that for many years I’d never thought about that time of getting kicked out of typing class.

I did, of course, have several excellent teachers, whom I now realize were also whole-person mentors for me. There was Mrs. McMurtry in 1st grade (’50), who took us on weekly outings to explore the world. Mrs. Rue, in 5th grade (’55), was an educational Mary Poppins. Mrs. Keating (’59), art teacher in high school, had me explore the lives of the great masters and helped me see art everywhere in life. Mr. Manning, God bless him, helped me know I had other gifts than mathematical and encouraged my creativity. Dr’s Bill Bynum and Terry Rose (’60’s), in college, helped me get my head and heart moving in right directions. Frank Morgan (early ‘60s), foreman on the Jungle Cruise during a remarkable stint working at Disneyland during college, helped me forge what I wanted to be and do with my future. Dr’s Vernon Grounds, Donald Burdick (with whom I first began to think of life in 8 Dimensions) and Ralph Keiper in grad school (early ‘70s) helped me begin to live from the core of who I am, even today. Other names do come to mind, but the space is too limited here.

Along with other exceptional life experiences, both hard and good, there are too many other authors, teachers, mentors to mention, really…but their books, videos, CDs line our shelves within our home. Their art hangs on our walls. Our travels have recorded opportunities and experiences that are way more than that which with one man should be blessed in a lifetime.

For 74 years now, my intellect has been significantly well nurtured. And continues to be…daily. Except my wife will tell you that I am still terrible at math (…sorry, Mr. Manning, you tried…).

To quote a good friend right now, “All that to say…,” A wonder-filled and crucial dimension to pay attention to in the 8 Dimensions of the Circle of Life is the Intellectual Dimension.

None of these dimensions stand alone. All are interacting with the others all the time. Brief definitions are inadequate here and are better explored in our mentoring workshops, and personal mentoring. But what you read in these blog posts point us in directions full of possibility for each life dimension:

The Intellectual Dimension
…involves our intellect…
…what’s taking place within our brain, the home of our mind…
…it is about how we study, learn, master concepts…
…the best fuel for this dimension is our curiosity…
…which is nurtured by a welcome sense of wonder…
…as we explore new ideas and information…
…and welcome the privilege of doing critical thinking…
…that give us permission to wander and be in awe…
…that allows us to slow down…
…and live lives of wonder…
…that invites us to wisdom…
…and wholeness…
…every day…

In college (thank you Dr. McNeely) I became an avid fan of C.S. Lewis. I’ve always loved this quote from him, which has given me permission to live life to the full:

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.

When I proposed to my wife, of now 49 years of marriage, in my youth-filled arrogance I promised her that if she would marry me that she would never have a dull day. I’ve kept my promise, even though my outrageous curiosity can make both of us a bit weary some times. Every once in awhile this precious woman will look at me and ask, “Can we just have a dull day tomorrow?” 😉

I’m reminded in such moments of a quote by a hero of mine, who against all odds, daily exercised her intellect in thoroughly remarkable ways. Helen Keller, once said,

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

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wes@leadershipdesigngroup.com'

Written by

Founder/CCO/Master Mentor Leadership Design Group. Wes is uniquely designed to encourage, grow, prod, and challenge others. He is wildly creative and able to imagine better futures for others and himself. Since 1967 his leadership mentoring has helped shape the future of individuals and organizations to grow their dreams into reality. Wes exercises his unique personality to serve others as Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Leadership Design Group, Leadership Design Associates and Three3rds Media. Wes has been mentoring individuals and teams since 1967 from a variety of backgrounds and on every major continent. The unique mentoring model that has deepened, enriched, challenged and changed many lives—in every third of life, is a cornerstone for all that takes place within Leadership Design Group, Leadership Design Associates and Three3rds Media.

One thought on “Curiosity and Intellect

  1. “I’m not taking sides here. You’re not the best student in the school, grade-wise, but I have to believe you are the most curious and creative student we have. Never lose that. I’ve no doubt but what you will graduate from college some day. The world is bigger than our little town. Go explore it.”

    So powerful, especially coming from a teacher to a student.

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