On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a joyous energy behind what you do.
– Eckhart Tolle
Last year some colleagues and I were discussing books we’ve found interesting, and my business partner suggested Edgar Schein’s Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. I read the book and loved it.
Schein describes three types of humility and four types of inquiry, focusing in on the power of inquiry based on here-and-now humility. This form of humility happens when we presume to be dependent on someone else because that someone has something we need – perhaps knowledge.
It struck me that, although Schein was intending to describe a relationship between two or more people, his concepts are also very appropriate for our discussions with ourselves – assuming we have them, of course. Consider the following excerpt:
What we ask, how we ask it, where we ask it, and when we ask it all matter. But the essence of Humble Inquiry goes beyond just overt questioning. The kind of inquiry I am talking about derives from an attitude of interest and curiosity. It implies a desire to build a relationship that will lead to more open communication. It also implies that one makes oneself vulnerable and, thereby, arouses positive helping behavior in the other person.
Creating a humble, vulnerable relationship with yourself opens you up to being able to inquire, discover, reflect, and perhaps create change. Accepting yourself for who you are creates peace. We’ll discuss reflection in more detail later on.