First, yes it is a word. Someone asked if it was last week after reading my article on the Huffington Post: Egocentric or Allocentric Connectedness. Interestingly enough it is actually a hard word to find even on the web. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “having one’s interest and attention centered on other persons — compare egocentric”.
So how do we achieve an allocentric approach today in a world that demands us to tighten our tribe, gain followers and continually master whatever we are good at. That could be answered multiple ways but I find that what helps me the most is constant exploration. I explore what others are up to. I try to learn something about the world I might miss if I just focus on my own communities. We really don’t need to go far to do this either. Tools like Squidoo.com keep me exposed daily to interests I would not otherwise know care or about. Really your own community is sometimes the wealthiest resource. Create lists of interesting people on twitter or explore your friends updates on Facebook. During your day allow yourself to tag along with someone and do something you would never do yourself. Eat someplace you would never usually eat. Take a risk. Take the initiative. It is the fuel for innovation and what keeps us from turning stale. Seth Godin puts it this way in Poke the Box “Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity. Not the search for the “right” answer, as much as an insatiable desire to understand how something works…”
Last week a friend asked if I wanted to go with him to buy some silver. I know nothing about silver and at first thought of dozens of things I could be doing instead. And after all no one I know deals in silver…accept him. But then I wondered what I would learn. Could just a simple experience like this change my perspective that day? It did. I learned way more than I thought I would. Plus I have a greater connection to my friend because of his interests. Curiosity keeps us not only smarter but it expands our world and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. It allows us to connect with people and communities that are different.
What will you explore today? Who will you connect with outside of your regular tribe?