Curiosity as a precursor for being a LDRBRND
Asking great questions is the first step to solving big problems
Curiosity is a topic that doesn’t come up all that much in the context of leadership. It certainly gets mentioned frequently when we talk about things like creativity and innovation. It is definitely a topic of conversation around kids and parenting.
But why doesn’t it seem like the topic gets a lot of press when we talk about business and people? Or specifically how we can be better leaders for our people?
Maybe it’s because our sense of wonder and curiosity is stymied by the time we reach adulthood. But I’d like to suggest that if we want to be a LDRBRND, we need to engage our natural curiosity.
How does this thing work?
Why does something or someone behave this way?
Why is this important?
This seems odd or out of place. I wonder how this became so?
When we let our natural curiosity roam free, we start to see the world in a different way. The trick is to let the curiosity out to play once in a while. It’s hard as adults to do this, but vital for our futures – no matter the industry. We are rushing around from place to place, task to task trying to check things off our massive and never ending to do lists.
As this is happening, we are missing out on opportunities to stop, think, reflect, and analyze. This is the key to the future of knowledge work – being able to stop and ask questions. But then we have to do some work to pursue the answers as well. So curiosity is the first step in a process.
If we want our brand to stand out in the marketplace as leaders, we need to be solving big and complex issues. But how can we possibly do that if we are completely blind to what they are? We need time and space to be observant. We need to engage our minds in free thinking and free play.
So how can we do this? The best first step is to actually schedule it into the calendar. Start in small increments. Is it really that hard to spend 5 minutes letting our brains engage in different thinking? I don’t think so. Once we train ourselves to do this, we will naturally want to spend more time doing so. Once that happens, we will begin to make new connections and observations all around us.
This is so important. Leading a brand and leading it within the larger contexts of industry and business as a whole is going to require thinking and analysis that goes beyond the standard way of doing things.
If we do the same thing as everyone else, we are going to get the same results. That is not going to cut it today. If we want our marketing to be effective, it has to show something fresh and amazing. That starts with a leader who is willing to think differently and act differently.
Not saying everyone has to be a showman. Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean being loud and obnoxious. Some people are naturally inclined toward that. And if it solves the problem of a particular company or brand – go for it! But that path isn’t for everyone.
There is something to be said for a quiet creativity. It doesn’t want the limelight. It simply wants to serve the best way it can. But it still creates a positive impact. There is something magical and magnetic that draws people in. It doesn’t have a megaphone turned up to max volume. It is a whisper that simply says “Here’s a new way to think about this situation. Have you tried it?”
There is nothing forced about it.
So we have to ask ourselves:
Do I want to be a LDRBRND?
How can I leverage my curiosity to increase my creativity and overall effectiveness as a leader?
We have to be willing to expose ourselves to new ways of thinking and to new areas of interest. Personally, I am not one to spend much time in the great outdoors. I much prefer being in the comfort of my home playing a game or watching a show.
But what if I did go out for a walk on a trail?
What if I saw some new things?
What if I began to ask some questions?
What if I had time to deliberate on possible answers?
The same goes for art. I am not one who has gone to many museums or art shows over the years. I consider my writing as my art. But I do appreciate how people pour their hearts and souls into a canvas or sculpture or pottery.
Or what if I did some extreme physical sport? I am not someone who is in great shape and I’ve obviously given them impression that I more indoorsy. But what if I did a new experience altogether like sky diving? The opportunities are endless.
The point is to shake ourselves from our normal existence. We all end up settling into some sort of routine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We need some stability in our lives. I bet there is even a psychological reason behind this. Maybe that is a sense of comfort and belonging?
We don’t live in a time or a place where we are sitting on the edge of survival most days. If we have the basics – food, water, and shelter – we are in a place where we can take on bigger, more complex issues that arise within our business or brands. But we need to make sure we are not stuck in a rut. Day in and day out doing the same things over and over again and all in the same way.
That boredom and that rote way of doing things is a killer for our natural curiosity. So we have to be proactively looking for ways to shake things up a bit.
Maybe it’s reading an author who has totally different ideas than our own. They have a unique perspective and view of life that we could never acquire in our own lifetimes. Their way of thinking applied to a wholly different scenario can be a huge boon.
But let’s not rush it or force anything. Curiosity has to be engaged for the love of learning and for curiosity to build upon itself. It can’t be put under a gun. Pressures and deadlines won’t force curiosity and won’t make it bend to our wills. It’s the natural free flow that will make it work and make it be a powerful force in our lives over time.
An idea we learn about now may not have relevance to what we are working on. But it may be the spark for something magnificent 5 years down the line. Some people may think that’s not a good system. Sorry I don’t make the rules on this one. We can think of curiosity as a scared little animal. We can allow it to come out when it feels comfortable. But if we try to force it, it will run and hide.
That’s no good.
Instead, curiosity has to become a lifestyle. A lifestyle that is closely linked to the learner’s lifestyle. It’s linked to the infinite mindset that Simon Sinek has been espousing. It’s also part of the leadership lifestyle. Learning, growing, thinking, observing, problem solving. These are all hallmarks of a LDRBRND.
One simply has to be willing to say that this is going to be the normal operating procedure. We are not expecting amazing results right away. No overnight cures or quick fixes. It’s looking to the horizon and seeing that the magic is in the practice. One small step along a continuum. But when we put together all those small steps, it shows radical progress.
But what can keep us motivated along that journey? That could take years and years. Agreed. So we have to tap into a sense of joy. It can be fun to ask so many questions and to tap into a child like way of thinking. It has to be fun. It has to put a smile on our faces. It has to perpetuate itself. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to put one foot in front of the other. So our own attitudes have a dramatic effect here.
The good news – we are 100% in control of our attitudes. We can train ourselves to see the joy in little moments and little questions. We don’t have to have all the answers. We train ourselves to ask the questions. After awhile we learn to ask better and better questions. But a bad attitude is going to shut down the process before it even began.
We also have to see that increasing our own curiosity is an investment. It’s a long term investment. It’s an investment for the future. It’s an investment that grows slowly (painfully slow) at first. But the more we tap into that curiosity the more it compounds. We just have to have the patience to let the results play out. Don’t give up to soon. We have to believe that the process is worth it.
I’d argue that this goes for so many things in life. But let’s focus on just curiosity for the sake of this post. Curiosity begets more curiosity. That is another virtuous circle. And it is one worth pursuing.
If we want to be LDRBRNDs in our respective areas or industries, we have to be bringing something new, fresh, and exciting to our work. Or else people have a right to question whether we truly are leaders in the space.
So what are you doing to stoke curiosity in your life personally and professionally? That is the key question we can be asking ourselves daily. And if we are brutally honest with ourselves, we know the answer may be nothing. But let’s be truthful and then take a small step toward changing that. It will make all the difference in the world.
I am here for you LDRBRND. Let me know how I can help.
I’ve been helping leaders become better marketers for over 21 years and would love to help you take the next step in your spiritual leadership journey.