Season 1
46 Minutes

E41 | Jeffrey Davis | The Lost Art of Cultivating WONDER


Jeffrey Davis, a sought-after speaker and thought leader on the creative process, is the Founder of Tracking Wonder Consultancy where he works with organizations and individuals to advance their best ideas and best lives with integrity and wonder.

Wonder, according to Jeffrey, is the antidote to hustle culture, a balm that connects us to our deepest purpose and drive. Jeffrey’s just-released book Tracking Wonder offers wisdom and very practical tools for cultivating and experiencing more wonder in our everyday lives.

Links in this episode:

THE IMPERFECT SHOW NOTES

To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.

These show notes come via the Otter.ai service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Jeffrey Davis  00:00

Wonder is not kid stuff. Wonders radical grown up stuff. I would like to use the word grown up wonder. I have a seven year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter. So I see their experience of wonder. And it’s different from ours. And I can say this too. I’m more aware of the fleeting nature of life, and they are and I’m more aware of mortality than they are. And that actually heightens my experience of wonder.

Achim Nowak  00:33

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started.  I am just delighted to welcome Jeffrey Davis to the my fourth act podcast. I think of Geoffrey as a seeker and explorer. Jeffery works with innovators, professionals, writers, scientists and social psychologists and this work offers him leading insights into the creative process. He is the founder of tracking wonder consultancy, where he nurtures individual and organizational experiences of wonder. Jeffrey just released his marvelous book, aptly called tracking wonder that illuminates the many facets of wonder for us the reader. Welcome, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Davis  01:46

Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.

Achim Nowak  01:49

Well, I can’t wait to learn more about your understanding of wonder your experience of wonder. And for many of us, this actually harks back to our childhood and what child life was like for us or not. So I’m very curious when you were a child. What was your sense of who you want it to be when you grow up?

Jeffrey Davis  02:14

Well, I love that question. Because I asked a variation of that question to a lot of the innovators I work interview. But I will maybe reframe the question because I wasn’t so forward thinking when I was a child, and by the time I was a teenager, I was curiously more reflective as I was anxious about moving forward. So but they are both revolved around the desire to create worlds and to imagine worlds and that came early on. When I read Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, it completely cracked open my imagination and this desire to create other worlds within this world. So that led to writing short stories, typing them out on my father’s typewriter, etc. By the time I was a teenager, I was conscious of the fact that I might be losing my imagination, which actually led me into college and grad school to pursue poetics, philosophy, psychology, everything that all my friends in business and law and pre med thought was just utterly impractical. But I’m glad I made those choices.

Achim Nowak  03:22

You use this wonderful grown up phrase creating worlds. And I love that. But when you were a young boy or teenager, did you have a sense that you are consciously creating worlds? Or is this more of a lens that you put on it? In hindsight,

Jeffrey Davis  03:39

definitely the lens I put down in on hindsight, actually, every morning, I actually remember that towheaded boy roaming the woods and reading stories, I remember every morning and write down like three adjectives about him one, which was imaginative, but it wasn’t really until I was 19, that I can still remember writing down in a notebook, I will become a writer. So that was maybe the first inclination of how that might take shape, that I was only admitting it to myself at the time, since

Achim Nowak  04:11

you’re already giving us wonderful clues about writing and writing things down. How would you connect the act of writing to both imagination and the creation of worlds?

Jeffrey Davis  04:24

Well, so I love that question, too, because there are lots of misconceptions people have about writing or let’s say creating a world on the page. So I draft to discover and I always encourage people to draft to discover which means that very active writing itself helps us think on the page and helps us imagine on the page, I may get an inkling of an idea or sometimes honestly, it’s looking out early in the morning across the pond. in our backyard and seeing the glimmers of the sunrise, and I start to just get like a glimmer of a feeling like a complex of emotions, and I’ll just write down and, and a seemingly random words, whatever that emotion is in tandem with the image and see where that takes me. That’s how books sometimes evolve. So the misconception is the thing, oh, I need to have the idea all in my head, and then I’ll write it down, I need to have the book off perfectly conceived. And then I’ll write it, it doesn’t work that way.

Achim Nowak  05:33

To me that what you just described is such a wonderful metaphor, not just the creation of books, but the creation of life. You know, I as a fellow writer, the idea that I have to start with a book outline is insanity to me, right? Because I shortcut, the discovery and the exploration, just as I can stand the notion of five and 10 year goals. I didn’t mean to interrupt, but

Jeffrey Davis  06:04

I was just thinking how ridiculous it feels sometimes to create in your goals in this world right now. Yeah, it really does.

Achim Nowak  06:10

What I glimpsed from your journey in life that got Kato tracking wonder both the work you do and the book you wrote is, and I mean, this is a high compliment it it looks a little eclectic. It doesn’t look traditionally linear. I want to just mention two things that jumped out to me that I want to share with our listeners. And I’d love for you to speak with them as you wish when you created something called the Walden Institute. That sounds really cool. And I like and what do you wear, I believe 25 I’d love for you to talk to us about that. And we already know your love of writing. And you’ve worked for a while as a book coach, book mentor, probably more and I don’t know, mislabel you. But what drew you to the Walden Institute and book coaching. And if you maybe give us a glimpse of some moments where you go, Wow, this this was really cool stuff I was doing.

Jeffrey Davis  07:04

Yeah. So the Walden Institute comes out obviously from the book by Henry David Thoreau, Walden, which for those listeners who don’t know is sort of like our first American life designer. So that book was introduced to me as an undergraduate at UT Austin. And it really woke me up to see oh, maybe there’s some different ways to live than I saw around me. So another professor and I, when I was 25, co founded the Walden Institute, which was devoted to providing courses and learning experiences, particularly around the Western philosophical traditions, as well as some of the Eastern philosophical traditions. And at that time in the late 80s, we were committed to studying human potential through the lens of existential psychologists, like Rollo May, Erich Fromm and Abraham Maslow. So this predates positive psychology that we’re familiar with safe in the past 15 years. So yeah, that also when I was about 20, just to go back a little bit. So I was growing up. So I was in college in the 80s. Everyone around me is focused on success, sort of defined in those times in America in the 1980s. And for whatever reasons, I was questioning that but quietly and in my notebooks and I would go off to a horizon of Mount Bunnell, which is the large is point and Austin, and I was writing in my notebooks, I’ve looked back at them to corroborate it, questioning the idea of success versus meaning. And what I wanted was meaning, and I just for whatever reasons, I don’t know why had the instincts to make those decisions. Accordingly, I had two parents who loved me unconditionally and said, Whatever makes you happy. So the Walden Institute comes out of that and was offering courses outside of a formal institution, to other adults who wanted to pursue say, meaning through the lens of philosophy, psychology, and even literature. So yeah, I don’t work as a book coach, per se. Now I work as a team, culture consultant, and business advisor and even a thought leader, strategist. But there’s an ongoing thread, really in all of my work, which is to pursue work that is meaningful, and impactful. And there was a second part of your question, like, what part of this work just like, indicated to me like, Oh, I’m on to something What was that second?

Achim Nowak  09:41

Well, I I’m curious to me, there are moments in life giving you both options right now moments where we go, wow, what just happened? This is why I’m doing this, though, that the little moments where the purpose becomes alive, and we go, yeah, this is why I do this. But they’re also the moments where why they Am I doing this? This feels horrible. So you can choose take us to one of these polls just to give us a sense of what this looks like in action.

Jeffrey Davis  10:09

Yeah, yeah. Well, I will fast forward a little bit, really when I started. And we can talk more about in between being in my 20s when I was teaching, writing, overworking at the expense of everything while still pursuing a meaningful life. But I fast forward. Maybe several years ago, when I was doing this work more specific to wonder. And I was leading a workshop for about 90 entrepreneurs from around the world in methods of bringing more wonder to work. And afterward, this IT expert, was probably in his 30s, he came up to me and asked if we could speak privately, he was a first generation American. And I mentioned that because he said, his father just really started pushing him so hard. By the time he was nine years old, to just keep achieving, because this is what you know, this is what we’re here for this country. So this young man, just he was crying to me, because he felt like he had forgotten his capacity to wonder and what we would call his innate genius since he was nine. And we stayed in touch after then I gave him some perspective. He stayed in touch with me, he said, you know, he started to see himself differently. He started to see his family and the importance of his relationships differently. And he started to put his job and it’s sort of right scale. And he he gives me updates. We actually this was several years ago, we just spoke a couple of months ago. And he was just reminding me of how seminal of a moment that was for him. But to answer your question, it was a seminal moment for me, because I saw the power of this work, you know, it’s so hard to measure. And that those moments, I have to say, are always the moments I’m identifying as, how is this work making a real genuine difference in people’s lives. So yeah, as you

Achim Nowak  12:11

were telling this moment, I have many of those of my own and, and I’m inviting our listeners to think of moments in their own life, where they felt, Oh, this is where I am making a difference. And it comes from a place of deep meaning for me, since you mentioned, wander and tracking wonder, that’s the name of your business. That’s the name of this marvelous new book. I want to deconstruct this a little bit in when I heard the word wander and your water, but I immediately had my own associations with it. And we’ll talk a little later about the six facets a wonder that you that you write about but without breaking it down that much? What does wonder mean to Jeffrey Davis?

Jeffrey Davis  12:54

Yeah, that’s better than multifaceted question. Because wonder is so hard to pin down Rene Descartes and 1649, his last book where it was on emotions, or laplacian, as they were called, then, he called wonder the first of all emotions, which has been corroborated by a number of psychologists now to say that it’s the emotion we’re born with were born through the wide aid with wonder, regardless of circumstances, it’s very subtle. So I’m going to mention this just because it’s been hard for psychologists to quote measure according to traditional measuring instruments, which means there’s only been a fairly recent science of wonder in the past eight or so years. So I say this, because it’s been hard to define also. So I will just give a clear language definition of it. Now. It is when I sometimes feel astonished, but I don’t want to raise the bar too high for the listeners, I’m going to give a clear definition so that your listeners might say, Oh, maybe wonder is more available than I was thinking maybe it’s more pervasive than I realize. Wonder is a state of heightened awareness brought on by something unexpected that either delights us, or disorients, this or both. It could be suddenly a bald eagle landing in your front yard, on a tree. It’s completely surprises you. It could be the disorienting part how many of us have felt in the past two years, when your sense of what’s real and true gets turned inside and out? They can come in moments of great adversity, actually, as well. So what’s which really remarkable now, I’ve been studying this deliberately for over 15 years, but the science the wisdom traditions, and the living laboratory of my life and the people I work with, is that these moments of wonder that we can actually track momentarily dissolve our biased perceptions. So we can see again, what’s real and true. And what’s beautiful. What’s possible happens with our perceptions of ourselves of each other in our own own circumstances, in our own sense of what’s real and possible.

Achim Nowak  15:18

You just laid a whole bunch of stuff on me Jeffrey Davis? I sure did. So first thing was I appreciated your definition, because I found it to be highly functional and accessible, which was great for something that you yourself call a little slippery and elusive. But this thought I had. And I’m going to test this with you, you said, psychologists have a hard time sort of measuring it making sense of it, even though it’s the original emotion. Is it hard to measure it and describe it because we culturally have continuously killed the experiences of wonder to the point where we can measure it can’t see it or feel it in them.

Jeffrey Davis  16:03

So those are actually two different points. And I just, I’m glad you’re kind of thinking out loud with these conversations I love to have so part of what makes it difficult to measure for quite some time even Darwin was measuring emotions according to their physiological response. They created us and a lot of psychologist like Dr. Keltner, at UC Berkeley, in Pixar films consults for the science of ah, which I love that job. I wish I had that job. So he and other psychologists often study emotions according to what sort of facial expressions they might elicit in us. So wonder, like when we say positive psychology, we’re not talking about good emotions, when I say positive because they’re emotions that elicit a response toward the stimulus. So for instance, we would say love attracts right. Whereas negative emotions like fear, we would say fear repels one wonder and hold us in a state of pausing and receiving and appreciating some studies just to further answer your question out of universe Arizona University, demonstrate these moments of Wonder pause the fight or flight response. Is there that subtle physiologically, that’s why they’ve been in part difficult to measure. But the whole question of cultural bias, there’s another line of question.

Achim Nowak  17:36

Well, let’s go down that line. Because in your book, you, you begin by describing that we all have biases against wonder and the experience of wonder, can you give us examples of what those biases are look like? And maybe what is driving those biases?

Jeffrey Davis  17:53

Absolutely. This is certainly many of us have had a series of awakenings the past couple of years, I think recognizing kind of the water in which we swim called to LA. And certainly, you know, our assumptions about work and the workplace certainly have been challenged. Right. And this is tied, tied to this. So you know, I’ve traced part of this bias, even back to the Protestant work ethic, the Scottish Irish culture of which I’ve been a part as well, where even in the Scottish language around the 1800s, there was a word called for a certain disease called the wonders, you had the wonders if you’re kind of in a stupor and gazing, it’s I just imagine, you know, some boy out in the field, looking up at the clouds and somebody saying, Oh, that boy, he’s got a case of the wonders, I’ll never amount to anything, you know. So in our more current culture, or work culture, hyper productivity, near toxic productivity. Generally speaking, a lot of people also don’t value what they can’t measure. And so it’s hard to value wonder. And if you’re looking at your employees, and somebody gazing up at the clouds, you would say that person’s being unproductive, perhaps, when actually that person may be imagining a beautiful way to completely change the workplace. Right? This gets this really gets very tricky. And it does, as I’ve been looking back more into the history of our notions of work, we can look back to some of our earliest organizational consultants at the turn of the 20th century, who were basically examining the workforce, right? This is coming in the industrial era, who were looking at all the employees and workers and saying, oh, you know, we can identify just how lazy and unproductive they are. We need to emphasize control speed and efficiency. Fast forward over 100 years later, we’re we’re still kind of swimming in those waters. But I have to say, this book had come out five years ago, even 10 years ago, maybe we wouldn’t have been as ready for it as we might be now.

Achim Nowak  20:16

A word from your sponsor, that’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my, fourth active.com, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups were cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. Speaking of being ready for more wonder if many of our listeners are, have worked hard, have been successful. They don’t want a more traditional success, but they maybe want more sweetness. And I’m thinking of this. This longing perhaps to Well, life was just simpler when I was a child. And life was easier. And I think of this phrase to look at the world with childlike wonder, which is almost the cultural cliche. What would you say to somebody who goes, gosh, I want to go back to those days when I could pause more, I could notice more. And the cynic would say, Well, you’ve had a lot of bad experiences between now and then. And it’ll never look that way. Again. Just play with that notion for a moment, if you would,

Jeffrey Davis  21:44

oh, yeah, well, and this may go back to some of the cultural biases to because even if, you know, some of the founders and entrepreneurs self employed, that I’ve worked with, have just inherited all of the overworking biases, I think it’s really hard for people who work for themselves, not to be their own worst boss, to turn it off, right, turn off the work. So I just wanted to acknowledge that you also did hit on something else, culturally, which is, understandably, we want to value competency. And for, let’s say, knowledge within our field and industry, but not at the expense of becoming rigid. In our thinking, or cynical, in our thinking, in one key cognitive block is a sort of default cynicism about the world or about other human beings. I, personally, I think it’s really easy to be cynical. So or the listeners, right, who say, Yeah, I just, you know, I would like to pause and maybe, you know, experience a little bit more delight and wonder, but, you know, maybe it’s too late for me. So let me unpack this a little bit. Yeah, wonders, not kid stuff, wonders, radical grownups stuff, I would like to use the word grown up wonder. I have a seven year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter. So I see their experience of wonder. And it’s different from ours. And I can say this too, I’m more aware of the fleeting nature of life, and they are, and I’m more aware of mortality than they are. And that actually heightens my experience of wonder it actually helps me be even more present to the moment with them or with you with other human beings that, understandably, they don’t, they have a wide eyed wonder, and we have a more grown up wonder. So for your listeners, I would ask them to even ask themselves a question similar to what you asked me at the beginning, which is to remember a time maybe when they were seven or eight, nine or 10 years old, when they felt really alive and free to be uniquely themselves without regard for reward or recognition. And really spend time remembering what we call kind of a young genius. And really acknowledge who they were in those moments as those memories and even write down some of those traits. And potentially entertain, that that sort of force of character is still alive. And then if they will remember and recognize it, then this can sound like a little inner child exercise, but it’s not. It’s to me, no, I

Achim Nowak  24:41

understand. Yeah, I have lawyers and

Jeffrey Davis  24:43

academics who do this work and they keep this sort of young genius alive. And it really changes their outlook and changes who they’re bringing to work with them each day, so to speak, or to their life with them. So I really encourage that and then just like one other thing is To recognize whoever you’re working with or living with, also has that sort of unique genius force of character. So I hope that helps you unpack that a little

Achim Nowak  25:11

want to just hold on to the difference between what I call a wide eyed innocence and our child and your phrase young genius, which is, I believe, a more powerful phrase and the ability to reconnect with that. Takes it beyond a yearning to forget our troubles, you know, it has more, it has so much more meat to it potentially right.

Jeffrey Davis  25:39

Now much so now sort of working premise of this whole body of work and of the book too, and that everybody I work with knows I say this, every big idea begats a series of challenges. Every every bold idea begets a series of challenges, the differences, how are you going to face or finesse those challenges? Can you bring your young genius qualities forward? And another kind of seminal moment for me for this work was in the early stages of the lockdown pandemic, I lead annual inner circle masterminds. And this one group, seven professionals, those early months, they said, Oh, you’ve been preparing us for this. Like, they had their share of unbidden surprises and suffering on all different levels, but they felt prepared their life. Oh, here’s another set of challenges, right? So this is not about escaping reality, it’s about all the different ways we can actually see reality. And Vanessa,

Achim Nowak  26:41

now in, in your book tracking wonder you. You do a wonderful job of taking this slippery, elusive notion and experience a wonder and you put some more language to it, you use, you describe the six different facets and the writer on you put some juicy language on it, which the fellow writer in me appreciated. Would you briefly give us an overview of what the six facets are in a brief description as you understand it?

Jeffrey Davis  27:11

You’re so and this did not come at the beginning of the body of research, but only in distilling it saying how can I give people an accessible shared language of wonder and possibility? So the six facets you think of wonder as a multifaceted Jim multisided, Joe, and I think of them in pairs, so three pairs of facets first pair is openness and curiosity. Openness is sort of the wide sky facet, it is this wide eyed wonder and openness to possibility. It’s where we foster what I would call an intelligent naivete, that all of the fulfilled innovators I’ve worked with and interviewed and study must maintain in the face of naysayers, sometimes with their ideas or with their fourth act. In this case, you’ve got an idea for your fourth act, you have to keep radically open. The second is curiosity. It’s what I call the rebel facet. It’s where we question the status quo way of doing things. It’s where we learn by doing, and we experiment where we get rushes of dopamine that keep going for the sake of going and pursuing new discoveries. Those two facets together can really help us approach life more creatively, and less reactively. The second pair of facets are usually what people do not associate with wonder. These facets are bewilderment and hope. bewilderment is the deep woods facet. This is the disorienting facet of wonder this is when our sense of who we are, might be radically challenged and decentered. Or we’re in the middle of a project or idea and we don’t know if we’re ever going to get out of it. This is where we fertilize confusion instead of fight or flee from it. Hope is the rainbow facet, it is not wishful thinking. It’s a very proactive way of moving ahead creatively, sometimes intuitively, even amidst crises or adversity. The third set, third pair of facets are connection and admiration. For our times I would suggest these may be the two most important because these are the relational and social dimensions of wonder. And action is the flock facet that speaks to our longing to belong expats who are yearning to sync up with one another in collaboration and other modes of support. Admiration is what I call the mirror. facet. The root of the word admiration means wonder, and it’s where we get the word mirror. But it is where sometimes we have we experienced what I call a surprising love for someone’s excellence, Wrath or character will different from others. V definitely know the difference in how to shift in V even into aberration. But it’s a really powerful facet to foster with the people you work with the people you live with, and the people sometimes that you serve.

Achim Nowak  30:16

Thank you for their beautiful overview I, when you mentioned the bewilderment, which to me is where my mind goes is wander by creating helpful disruption. You know, that takes us into new things. And my mind immediately went to especially many fourth actors often say, part of my forte, because I want to travel a lot more. People say I want to travel not to go to that five star resort where I stay locked in. But I want to travel to be in different worlds, where people live differently and possibly challenged challenge to look at my life differently. Would that be an example of intentional bewilderment?

Jeffrey Davis  31:01

I love that. Yeah. It’s actually a great example of openness as well, which I recommend, which is to go to new places, but also intentional bewilderment to deliberately disrupt your preconceptions of what’s real, and true. Yes, bewilderment. Sometimes it’s not brought on. So actively, because we so many of us want to not be bewildered these days. But when we find ourselves in confusion, be sort of high stakes confusion, I want to encourage listeners to normalize that date, instead of pathologize. That state of confusion and see it as a real opportunity for growth, if not breakthrough, for for the actors. I think what you described is a great example of potential cultural or existential bewilderment. Put yourself in the place of difference, and be open and curious. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  31:58

You ended your description of the six facets with the word admiration. There was so many beautiful nuances to your understanding of it. And I’d like to kick that around some more if we can. Because traditionally, I think it can mean oh, I look up to somebody and gosh, there’s so accomplished, there’s so many doing so many great things. And the deeper yearning could be I wish I could be liked them. But I thought you had a lot of other nuances to it, can you just embellish a little more your understanding of admiration and what we see and the other who we admire? And love

Jeffrey Davis  32:39

that? Yes, sir. There at least like be think of mirrors may be moving in three different directions that I unpack in that chapter. Typically, when we think of admiration, we think of looking up to somebody, maybe a child looking up to an athlete we admire, like Michael Jordan, or somebody. That is one mode of admiration. So we look up to an exemplar, I call it and in that chapter, it turns out that according to one study of like over 700, creative people who’ve innovated in their fields, they do have those relationships with exemplars. That’s important. What’s important. Let’s just unpack this a little bit. So we distinguish it from envy, because many of us, as grown ups are almost shy to admit that we admire somebody, because then we feel like we’re diminishing ourselves. So it’s not blind veneration. But if you sense that you’re envying somebody, I tell the story about envying one of my psychologist, friends that I’ve known since 2010, through Psychology Today, and he has three daughters, I have two, he’s younger, he’s both he’s always showing off his biceps. I’m not buff, I watch him. But he’s out there having these great adventures with his daughters, you know, they’re taking pilot lessons and jumping off cliffs and so forth. And there is this moment when I set out I wanted to be a father like that. And it felt like envy. And then I unpacked of that, which is what I recommend in this chapter to like name the that when you feel envy or even when you feel admiration and an exemplar. For me, it was, oh, I want to give my two daughters experiences where they feel more courage and resilience and confidence. But I’ll do it in my way, not his way. Right. So that helped me shift possible envy into proactive aberration which has led to quite different experiences for my daughters and myself. The second nuance for admiration is how we might regard the people that we’re serving. So when I work with teams and organizations, sometimes we look at a team’s attitude toward their customers and clients. And sometimes it’s Not admiring. Sometimes the client, the customers are viewed as an inconvenience. And I’m like, huh, let’s shift this. And I worked with a major city planning department in British Columbia around this too with certain citizenships they were serving, if you can shift your attitude, or the people you serve as potential, everyday heroes, who really they’re struggling for change or wanting change in some form or fashion, if you can find what you can admire, literally admire about them, whether it’s their character, their grit, their desire, that can shift the dynamic completely. The third is your own regard for yourself. And I don’t mean self esteem. I mean, genuinely naming the that in you, that you admire particular talent, that sometimes it’s hard for us to see in ourselves, but to actually name it, and own it. These are really, really important, undervalued facets of wonder.

Achim Nowak  35:59

I feel like you just gave us some examples of the tracking part of wonder, which is, of course your, you know, it’s which I interpret as it’s not a lucky accident, you know, the more we track it, the more we notice, the more of it we intentionally make happen or allowed to happen, right? So I want to I want to take it to you now Jeffrey, in your life, you you’ve studied wonder, you just written a wonderful book about it. You serve clients, in your own life, you talked about your two daughters, how does wonder show up in your life? Or how do you make space for more wonder, and how do you track it in your own life?

Jeffrey Davis  36:43

Yeah, so you know it early in the book, I say, you know, the aim is not to be wonderous all the time, which would be exhausting, and maybe a little infuriating for the people who live with but but it is that up the Wonder ratio. And I’m heartened, since the books come out by how many people have shared even publicly as well as privately with me. Others starting to recognize wonder everywhere, they’ve given it gotten a new language for it. So for me personally, I literally every morning, I have my own sort of beta notebook with certain prompts. One of them is to is to actually literally remember my three young genius traits that I write down every morning, I remember them. And then I look ahead to my day, like this moment right now. And imagine how I’m going to bring one or more of those traits for decides, like, recognizing those traits are still alive in me. There are a couple of other exercises in the morning to so every morning I write down today I’m curious about blank, that really like shifting the worry mind which can be alive and kicking. If I happen to wake up at 4am. There’s the worry mind instead of the Wonder mind. So I deliberately check in what am I curious about the day like, let me just acknowledge that write down some thoughts about that. And throughout the day, work days aren’t always typical are the same, but I am very deliberate in shaping where my attention is. And I do try to designate certain wonder breaks, if I have a full workday, that may be a walk outdoors for five to 10 minutes without any purpose other than to walk, which has profound benefits. It may be if my daughter’s happened to be home in the afternoon to check in with them and spend some time with them. So those warm connections are really important. And then in the evenings, I will aim to write down also in my notebook 123 highlights of the day to really reflect on sometimes those small, they’re often the small moments that are important to remember. So those are just a few of the ways but yeah, I’m grateful that my research has led me to be quite adept at tracking wonder throughout the day. And this even this conversation, I have to say the way you carry a conversation is genuinely for me a moment of wonder, because neither of us knew exactly where it’s going. We’re both at least I am getting little insights. And it feels like a very present conversation. This is for me a part of that facet of

Achim Nowak  39:27

I appreciated the notion of Wonder breaks. And what I’ve also heard from you is various simple habits that keep you connected to the experience of wonder. And I hadn’t didn’t think I would think about this better talking. I was thinking about we talked about positive psychology, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and the notion of micro moments of love, which are moments of wonder with complete strangers. The moment I understood what that was, they started happening all around and my own awareness that oh, this is what it is, and I can invite it in and be present, created so many more, which is exquisite, right?

Jeffrey Davis  40:08

I signed her research of love 2.0 Also in that chapter on connection and our work, Valerie Carr’s work, our Why think that chapter on connection and aberration are so important for our times, it’s actually literally walking through New York City or some other place full of strangers and recognizing, you know, the beauty in those strangers and just becoming aware of how some of our biases can just almost be in a fight or flight response without us realizing it among strangers. And we have the capacity to grip that wiring and experience the moments of Wonder right there. So yeah, I’m so glad you brought that up.

Achim Nowak  40:49

Now, from your vantage point, right now as a mature, grown up and father of two children and having knowledge or research. If you could either speak to the young version of yourself and share some wisdom and guidance with him not to change the course of his life. But if you wanted to be the benevolent wisdom whisperer, what would you want him to know, based on what you know, now about life?

Jeffrey Davis  41:17

That’s a great question. Because I do think that towheaded boy, literally almost every morning, as I said, But you know, this is really thoughtful question, I would, I would literally say you’re okay, just as you are, others might see you as slow. But you move deeply See the world differently. So keep imagining and keep creating great things to come.

Achim Nowak  41:44

Beautiful. And if you were to extend this wisdom to our listeners, so let’s imagine our listener is maybe in their 50s, or in the 60s, they’ve had a great lunch, and they’re going gosh, I I want to experience more wonder, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with life. You know, I’m dealing with some of the effects of aging, which don’t always feel good. What kind of guidance would you share with them around? The possibility of having more wonder?

Jeffrey Davis  42:15

Yeah, thank you for that invitation. One is to acknowledge that young genius, I get that term for my study of Greek philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, all three sort of early positive psychologist who used the word de Amman in Greek, which translates the genius, the sort of innate force of character were each uniquely born with that if we keep remembering it, recognizing it will keep leading us toward our best life. So I would say to your listeners to acknowledge, perhaps that young genius that we have been talking about, and literally spend some time writing down maybe three qualities that that young genius had, that is still alive in you when you feel most alive and free to express yourself, and extend that conversation, maybe with friends or loved ones. So lots of people have told me over the past few weeks, that they’ve had conversations with their loved ones or friends to go around the table, and share their young genius qualities. And then actually, literally, to see that the other and the friend or loved one really powerful way to receive one another and to be seen, again, the new. Similarly, there are many people in this sort of fourth act, are overwhelmed with possibilities, and they may not lack Attention Deficit Disorder. But as one of my former clients said, attention abundance disorder, they’re curious about 70 different things. They don’t know which way to go. And certainly that has been the case for me in the past. And I would really encourage them to check in with what they really care about. What do you really care about, and then tie that to what you’re curious about and want to pursue? And what you care about might help you filter out all of your many options and choices via tone. The Lakota people in the United States had a word called a HomePath. It translates loosely to care, but it also translates to wonder, which makes me feel like that intimate connection of what we wonder about we also will care about what we care about that we can get curious about and have a really beautiful core that of possibility.

Achim Nowak  44:46

What a wonderful ending to this conversation. I just want to invite you to share I’m sure our listeners want to go with so where do I find out more about Jeffrey Davis and the work he does? I’m sure people know where to find the book, but where would you send people who Want to learn more about what you do

Jeffrey Davis  45:02

here or they can go to trackie wonder.com. They might be curious about our emerging wonder at work community that will be opening in 2022 might be curious about some of the organization work although this audience maybe beyond that organization work, which is beautiful. They also may go to trackie wonder.com/podcast Bonus, where they can take a wonder at work assessment, download the first chapter of the book, as well.

Achim Nowak  45:29

Thank you for that and just thank you for the gift of this conversation. It was a total pleasure for me.

Jeffrey Davis  45:36

Me as well thank you for the art of a true conversation.

Achim Nowak  45:41

Bye for now. Like what you heard, please go to my fourth act.com And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected to Get The Latest Podcast Alerts


Congratulations! You have successfully subscribed. We look forward to staying connected with you!