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5 Ways to Let Curiosity Drive Your Success


Curiosity is connecting the dots. 
Curiosity is asking, "What if?" and "Why?" and "How?"
Curiosity is continuous learning.

In my leadership experience, I've found that being curious leads to innovation.  Sometimes curiosity leads to brand new ideas.  But more often than not, it leads to ideas that are just different enough than an existing idea that they just might work.

I'm the kind of leader who doesn't like to recreate the wheel.  If I have a process or system set up that's working well, then I always look to those existing set-ups to see if I can re-purpose the idea or system instead of creating a new one.  I'll see if I can tweak the existing idea just a little bit to work for my existing need.  I find this to be extremely efficient and often leads to even more creative ideas and functions for the existing system.

Over the years, I've ran into people who may not see my same vision or have a hard time seeing something re-purposed for a new function.  This is called functional fixedness.  A person cannot see a use for an object or function beyond the way it's "normally" used.  For example one person may see a cardboard box and only be able to think of it as a box to hold things.  But someone who can break from functional fixedness can see that the box can also be a stepping stool.

So I challenge you to overcome functional fixedness in your own workplace or life.  If you have a problem to solve, look to other existing systems to see if you can re-purpose those ideas by tweaking them to fit your need.

Here are 5 ways I've trained my brain to lead with curiosity:

1. Expose yourself to disciplines outside of your own. Examples:

-If you're an artist, listen to podcasts on business.

-Pick up a book you wouldn't normally read from the library or store.

-Change the radio dial to new music.

-Watch or listen to a variety of news channels.

2. Keep an open mind when learning new things or seeking information outside of your discipline.  Examples:

-Keep a small notebook with you to jot down notes on things that peak your interest so you can go back to them later.

-If you hear about a concept you've never heard of, Google it and learn a little more.

-Ask people to explain or teach you about a new concept you've just heard about.  Don't be shy.

3. Believe in your idea when others doubt.  Here's how:

-You may have to explain or draw out your idea before it's completely understood.  And even then people may not get it.  Surround yourself with people who trust your vision.

-"Be careful of the careful souls who doubt you along the way." -The Band Perry.  I love this song lyric.  There will always be doubters.  If there's really a need for your innovative idea, the need will remain until someone fills that void.  Even if you paused on executing your idea before because of doubters or other barriers, don't be afraid to pick it up again.  You can do it!

4. Ask yourself these questions:

-Why are we doing X process like this?

-How can we make this process EVEN better?

-How are others making this work?

-What if we simplified the process by doing/or not doing X?

-Could X concept that's used elsewhere be used in this situation?

5. Say these things to get people to share your vision:

-Let's try this as a pilot and see what happens!  We can always re-evaluate the idea and change if needed.

-Even though we've always "done it this way," we may be able to make the process EVEN better.

-Others are doing X and seeing amazing results. This idea may help us keep up with or lead the industry standard.

-If our pilot is successful, we'll have improved X, and see X results (include cost savings, time savings, return on investment stats, etc.)

How do you use curiosity in your leadership role?  Comment below!

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