Tuesday, March 6, 2012

i-TFTD #356: Be Strongly Curious

On Curiosity
-Ivone (Rochelle)

If you were asked what was your greatest strength, what would you reply? In the case of John F. Kennedy, he said "My curiosity." Now, that's an answer you wouldn't expect. And then there's Albert Einstein protesting, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." And even Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity."

What's so great about curiosity? Actually, it's something we humans share with the entire animal kingdom. It's a necessary urge to find out about our environment, find food, to survive. But for humans, it's so much more. Curiosity leads you to explore new ways of doing things, solve problems, and investigate possibilities. It keeps the sense of wonder that you had as a child alive. When your curiosity is keen, you can grow and expand your life to fit your dreams.

Here's a fun exercise for you to try to show you what I mean. The next time you are faced with a problem or challenge, start off with the words "What if... ." Then allow yourself to think of the most absurd, unlikely, "way out" solutions you can. This helps you to think outside that proverbial box. And you just might surprise yourself by what you come up with!

To add more words to your curiosity arsenal, here's a poetic reminder from Rudyard Kipling:

I have six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew.
I call them Why and When and Where
And How and What and Who.

And don't worry that "Curiosity killed the cat…" Remember the rest of that proverb – "...but satisfaction brought him back"!

(Thanks to Prasad Pejawar for sharing this.)

Curiosity is exercised by asking questions, an underrated ability highlighted more than once in i-TFTD. Curiosity, by definition, can only be towards things I don't know. The advice above related to finding out-of-the-box solutions is to have curiosity towards things I might not have thought of or liked to consider.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

i-TFTD #355: Leadership Begins with Belief in Becoming

#355-1. Impatient leaders say let's do something. Wise leaders say, Let's become something.
-Dan Rockwell at leadershipfreak.com

#355-2. The first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.
-Derek Sivers (1969-) founder of CD Baby (His TED videos are here.)

#355-3. It's one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he's leading to realize whatever he's dreaming.
-Benjamin Zander (1939-), American music conductor from the UK (I like his brilliantly delightful TED video.)

Doing is about execution and is receiving a lot of attention ever since Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan published their book on the topic. This emphasis was a much needed correction to management literature with its rich repertoire of strategic thinking frameworks and conceptual models. However, in the real world of action-oriented business managers, many situations call for inspiring teams with a vision that transforms the team and the organization rather than merely motivating them to perform goal-oriented tasks.

A leader, by definition, cannot exist without followers. Authority and position vested by the organizational hierarchy is inadequate to be seen as a true leader of people. No one is always a leader in every situation nor is anyone always a follower. The positive belief of the leader in the team transmits to the team and gradually develops into a mutually trusting and enriching collective force.