“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney
“Why?” If you’ve been around a little child any length of time, you’ve been plagued with that question. Many parents get tired of it and start saying “because I said so,” just to get them to quit.
As the child enters school, she’s taught to look up answers not find them for herself by thinking things through. She memorizes then forgets, as each test comes and goes. Before too long the child learns to repress her curiosity as she merely mimics what others say. Her joy of learning has been squelched.
We should never lose the ability to ask questions, for it reveals the greatest secrets of life. Great inventors, scientists, researchers, and leaders all wonder why something works while something else doesn’t. It’s how they discover wondrous, new things. They nurture their intellectual curiosity.
Intellectual curiosity inspires us to solve problems and think creatively. It takes us on a joyous journey of discovery. As Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron said, “Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own.” We should do everything in our power to keep it alive.
You’ll be amazed at what you can learn by looking at things that people don’t usually pay attention to. Use the following suggestions to rediscover your intellectual curiosity. This process can be used in closely examining every aspect of life, from relationships, to systems, to tangible objects.
1. Observe people with mindfulness. You can learn a lot, without becoming intrusive, as you notice what people do and say, wonder why they do it, and how it makes the participants feel. You’ll begin to notice behaviors, emotions, and patterns that give you insight into what makes people tick.
2. Ask questions that promote observation. Look at a situation with fresh eyes and consider:
- Where does this work? Where wouldn’t this work?
- Why does this work? Why doesn’t it work?
- When does this work? When doesn’t this work?
- Who will this work for? Who doesn’t this work for?
- What elements work? What elements don’t?
3. Ask the question that promotes change – “what if?” People daily encounter frustrations that need solutions. You could be the catalyst for change by simply identifying an innovative solution. How can you do this?
- Train yourself to make notes about every frustration you see, anything from communication breakdowns to products that don’t work. Just create the habit of note taking what you observe.
- Identify the underlying problem that creates this frustration.
- List possible solutions. What if it was bigger, smaller, faster, slower, kinder, or more forceful? Let your imagination run wild with possibilities.
- Mentally or physically take it apart to see if it’s a feasible solution. By dissecting every aspect of your solution you’ll identify places that need more work.
Remember, this process of mindful intellectual curiosity works not only for tangible objects but also for examining your life experiences and processing what’s happening with your emotions, too. It allows you see all sides and make adjustments as needed.
It takes practice to keep your intellectual curiosity alive. Why not choose an idea, product or service that is an unexpected success and apply the above suggestions. That will get you started. If you’d like to delve deeper into how you can become a great leader, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Isn’t it true that the world is full of people with good intentions? Yet the ones who accept a task and execute it promptly are rare. In that way, they become indispensable at work or in any relationship because you can count on them to follow through and not let you down.
Is that the kind of person you’d like to be known as?
First, it’s important to determine what’s getting in the way of executing your goals. Do you procrastinate or get distracted? Too often our minds are so full of “stuff” we lose focus. Or maybe you don’t know something, so you get stuck on the “how” and stall out.
Perhaps your past is getting in the way? Maybe you’ve been discouraged by a lifetime of others putting you down. On the other hand, overindulgent parents might have spoiled you, making you think the world owes you a favor. Just remember, those behaviors are their choices, not yours.
You have a choice to make: blame others or build a fire in your soul for developing the attitudes and habits that make you indispensable. How?
It all starts with developing the character to view everything you do as worthwhile. No matter what the job is, do it cheerfully. Appreciate the opportunity to see your strengths and make note of them.
When you work at excelling at everyday tasks, extraordinary opportunities will come your way. When you use each assignment to hone your natural talents, you can turn them into a discipline that you master. This may well become your “calling” in life, if it brings you great joy and it serves the needs of others.
The secret to becoming indispensable is to take action without hesitating. Practice the following steps until they become a deeply imbedded system in your life:
- Accept the assignment and get started. Don’t wait for all of the answers. As you proceed, you’ll often find better solutions than if you had mapped it all out at the beginning.
- Ask for clarification. Asking a question isn’t a sign of weakness. Work out what you can and then ask the right questions to fill in the blanks.
- Outline a plan of action. Keep in mind your ultimate objective; strategies for achieving it; breaking it down into manageable bits; making a step-by-step checklist; and measuring your progress.
- Don’t be afraid to expend some resources and ask for help. Worthwhile objectives usually cost money, time, and help from others. If it’s worth doing, do it right.
- Measure your progress. When you get stuck, show what you’ve done so far and ask for feedback. If you’re off course, this will put you back on track. Even if you don’t answer to anyone, review your progress and see if you’re still on course.
- Set reasonable expectations and always exceed them. If you want to be trusted with vital tasks, develop a reputation for getting the job done better, sooner and at a lower cost than expected.
- Accept mistakes as the cost of learning. Perfection is unrealistic. Mistakes are simply information not judgments on your character. Reflect on what they teach you.
- Be proud of your work. Remember your wins. Find the harmony between action and fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the ability to act despite it.
You will become indispensable when you’ve integrated these action-oriented habits and attitudes into your life. If you’re ready to accelerate your rise to excellence so you become indispensable, respected and trusted, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this journey.
“I believe the risks I take are justified by the sheer love of the life I lead.” ~ Charles Lindbergh
What does the family who goes on the vacation of a lifetime have in common with the company that consistently exceeds its marketing goals? On the surface…nothing. But when you look deeper, in each case you’ll see a leader who knows how to inspire a shared vision. If you want to make a difference, this is an essential skill you’ll want to master. Let’s take a closer look at each story…
Within the family, the mother sees that the kids will soon be leaving for college. She knows that once they’re out of the house, they may get so busy with their own lives they might not have another chance. So she shares her vision of a great family vacation with her husband. He agrees and together they work out how to make it happen. As the family discusses it, they excitedly pitch in their ideas. Because they’re on the same page, working toward the same goal, it’s not a hardship to stick to a budget or schedule. Their shared vision becomes a success.
In the business setting, the marketing department brings a new strategy to the boss, and she thinks it’s a great idea. She takes that visionary thought and lays out a plan to her employees. She details the vision to them and gets them excited to do their individual and collective best. She knows it won’t happen unless all departments are on board with the idea. And because she connects with each one on the level of their specialty, each department excels.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of working with someone who tries to lead but keeps the details to themselves. You don’t know why something is important and you don’t understand the process because you don’t know all the steps. As a result, the “vision” never succeeds, because you couldn’t clearly see your role in it.
In any case, progress won’t happen by chance. Inspiring leaders acknowledge and welcome the strengths of each person and create an environment were talents can flourish. They give a clear objective so people know what to do. They give a clear reason why it’s important, so everyone remains motivated to get it done. It’s not enough for the leader to have a vision. An effective leader inspires others by knowing how to share the vision so that it takes on life in the hearts of all those involved. They can see themselves in the picture!
First-class leaders learn to look far into the future, not merely seeing the end of a current project. Instead they see how each project impacts their organization years down the road. In the above example, the mother saw her family slipping away, so she took action to bring them back together. The far-sighted boss saw how one marketing campaign would boost morale and generate customer loyalty. Because they took into account the hopes and wishes of others, those involved became very supportive.
Effective leaders see that it’s important to make time to look ahead and not get consumed with day-to-day busyness. They also don’t feel that they have to be the visionary. But they know that it’s their job to get everyone involved and keep them working at the top of their game.
It’s not always easy to communicate your vision in a way that draws others into it so that they adopt it for their own vision. However, it’s easier if you incorporate metaphors, word pictures, and stories that people relate to. Don’t be afraid to express the depth of your emotional involvement and excitement, because it’s that passion that will fire up others.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to inspire others for a future project is to connect with them mindfully in the present. If you’d like to learn to inspire others and make more meaning connections in your life, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. It’s going to be life-changing!
“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” ~ Ralph Lauren
Have you ever eaten a dish of food that was ho-hum and boring, and then someone adds a secret ingredient that really gives it a zing of excellence? In life and business, the secret ingredient that gives you a zing and makes you stand out are strong convictions.
When you’re strongly convinced that what you do and say matter and that what you offer is of great value to others, your energy shifts and you become more attractive and persuasive. The people you work with feel more at ease. It engenders a feeling of security. It helps everyone concentrate on doing their best work, because they see that everything is under control.
In contrast, uncertainty – the opposite of conviction –is perceived by the brain as a threat. It actually causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol, which disrupts your memory, and puts your physical, emotional and mental health at risk.
How can you model strong convictions in your leadership without alienating others? If you lack conviction, you can gain it through introspection and self-awareness. If you already have strong convictions, you can learn to express them in a pleasantly persuasive and compelling manner. As you read the following section, give yourself a rating on the scale of 1 to 10 for each one, so as to determine your strengths and weaknesses.
“The Seven B’s of Strong Convictions” that will make your leadership skills outstanding:
Be informed. Know your topic forwards and backwards. When you have an excellent grasp of a subject, you can be absolutely convinced that you’ve chosen the best course of action. You can effectively apply what you know about the subject to real life situations.
Be strong. Make a stand for what you believe to be important and you won’t be swayed by everything that comes along. Use your strength for the good of others. Have the courage to make difficult decisions, take responsibility and do what’s best for the people you’re leading. This means you don’t give up when the going gets tough. You’re willing to take the bullet for your people. You back them up, never shifting blame. Leaders with true conviction are able to encourage others to openly speak up and share their viewpoints even if what they say is hard to hear.
Be tuned-in to your intuition. Your intuition or “gut instincts” are like a sixth sense where you quickly read a situation because you recognize subtle cues. It’s not the same as jumping to conclusions. Rather it takes time and mindful effort to increase your emotional intelligence. Once you learn to identify when you’re being influenced by unfounded assumptions or unresolved emotions stemming from unrelated experiences, you can filter these out. Then you’ll be able to trust your intuition and stop second guessing yourself or playing the “what if” game.
Be positive. See the good in everyone and everything, even in difficult times. Positive thinking gives your brain a chance to focus on stress-free thoughts, quieting fears and irrational thinking. Learn to choose a positive state, and you’ll be amazed at how it boosts your energy level.
Be passionate. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to make things happen. Of course, realistically we all have limitations. But the trick is not to accept any limitation without constantly testing their boundaries. Maybe you can’t do it today, but with training, increased knowledge and experience you can do it tomorrow. Don’t give up on your dream.
Be humble. Jump in and do the dirty work when it’s needed. Only ask your followers to do what you’re willing to do. Support, inspire and encourage those around you. Through your actions, prove that you walk the talk, never adopting the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.
Be friends with change. Change is not your enemy. It’s natural to want to feel in control rather than being at the mercy of what life throws at you. Life happens. It’s not a personal failure when you can’t control what happens. However, how your react to it is totally within your control. Focus on that.
When you act with conviction, everyone around you unconsciously absorbs this belief and emotional state. Whether you’re leading a team at work, or you want to increase your self-confidence and grow as a person, or even if you want to be a better role model for your children, conviction is essential to your success. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Get a jumpstart on fine-tuning your conviction by attending our special talk: Choose Life Enhancing Beliefs on Thursday, August 25th. Nando Raynolds and I will be meeting with you at 600 Siskiyou, Ashland, Oregon to share how NLP can expand your abilities for happiness and excellence. Learn more about it by clicking here or contact me for more details. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
“By my actions teach my mind.” ~ William Shakespeare
Learning doesn’t stop when you finish your schooling. As the world has become more connected we are required to continually learn new skills and adapt to change. This takes great flexibility in our thinking. Yet this raises an important question: Is thinking enough to achieve mastery and excellence? No, and here’s why…
Do you really know ‘how to learn’?
Perhaps your style of learning has been to memorize facts intellectually until you take a test or do a task, and then you quickly forget it. Or perhaps you “know” a topic but never put it into practice, let alone master it.
Honestly, would you book Carnegie Hall for your daughter’s piano recital if she had only looked at a music book? No, a master pianist has years of practice to train the mind (to gain the skill), the body (to gain the dexterity) and the spirit (to gain the confidence) to cooperate together harmoniously. Mastery, through embodied learning, requires all three – the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Learning with the Mind. The educational system traditionally teaches the mind. As a result, many people stay stuck because they theoretically know what they should do, but they feel overwhelmed or are distracted by the next “bright, shiny object” that comes along. There’s too much information for any of us to process. We’re moving at a speed that demands immediate action.
In order to master a skill, it’s vital to stay connected as you embody your higher purpose and remain focused on what’s important. This requires…
Learning with the Spirit. Over time we establish a characteristic mood. People can see us as cheery or brooding, positive or negative, and helpful or closed-minded to give a few examples. People will either be repelled or attracted by our mood.
Emotions, on the other hand, come and go as situations change. However, if you’re not skilled in resolving your emotions they take on a life of their own and become a mood. For example, if you don’t effectively deal with your sadness and loss, it may become a mood of depression.
Your emotions and moods shape the way you learn. If you’re negative, and self-defeating, your learning and productivity will suffer, regardless of how skilled you are. On the other hand, if you’re open and curious you’ll be receptive to learning and increase your creative and innovative skills.
Learning with the Body. To manage your own emotions (not repressing them or becoming victims of them) you must approach them from a somatic perspective. How you organize your body produces certain moods and emotions, both positive and negative.
The body never lies. You may say you’re ready for a presentation to a room full of clients, because you know your material inside and out. But when you stand in front of them and you stammer and stutter and forget key points, your body is telling the truth – that you aren’t ready emotionally.
Embodied learning means there’s a congruency between your intellectual thoughts, emotional state and your body organization. And you only achieve this harmony through practice. For example, when you learn to model confidence behavior, you’ll feel confident. And as you repeatedly practice it, you will become confident. You will have learned this new skill so well you embody it in all you do. It will come to you easily. As you perform these actions in a graceful manner, people will see you as a master of your craft.
Are you seeing areas in your own life that can benefit from embodied learning? I would be pleased to partner with you as you discover how to become more mindful and aware in your approach to life. Please contact me and we can schedule a time to work together in person or via Skype.