I am inherently curious. Offer me a factory tour and I’m there. Give me a chance to visit a new city and I’m all over it. I like nothing better than the “ah-has” that come with learning something new. Over the years, this curiosity has served me well as I’ve interacted with a spectrum of clients in a wide variety of industries. While my focus is workforce transition issues, it helps that I can talk retail with retailers and distribution with distributors.
I mentioned this in a presentation last month and an electrical contractor sitting in the front row raised his hand. “I’m always looking up,” he said, trying to figure out how the place was wired. I can be in a restaurant, shopping mall, or bus station, I’m always analyzing the other guy’s work.” I asked how many other people in the audience did something similar and a good portion raised their hands.
This sense of wonder will serve you well regardless of your occupation and environment. I am continually surprised how little most people know about the organization for which they work. As I write this for instance, a driver for a linen and uniforms service is walking past me. I have an urge to ask him, “So how does your company make money? Can you explain the business model to me?” If he didn’t assume I was nuts, chances are he might say something like, “It’s not my job to know stuff like that.” How sad, for both him and the firm he works for. Knowledge, regardless of your role in the organization is the key to better decision making and success on several levels.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not one of these tunnel-visioned people who’s only invested in the next paycheck. But what about the people around you? Better profits come from better productivity. Better productivity comes from better decision making. Better decision making comes from better knowledge. Better knowledge comes from a continual sense of wonder and curiosity. So what to do? Here are three easy-to-implement suggestions:
Make curiosity a part of your ethos. Take a tour. Connect with a colleague in another part of the business with whom you might benefit from a mutual relationship. Ask those questions about the firm and industry that will open doors to new opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy the rewards.
Set aside time to discuss the details. Dedicate the first or last five minutes of every meeting to sharing something interesting about the firm. Explain why it’s essential and how it impacts everyone. If your people are remote, send them a video or an interesting set of factoids. You might even assign this task to others to encourage their curiosity. Chance are, you’ll be surprised by what they find fascinating.
Demonstrate how curiosity turns into success. Tell your story. Ask your boss to tell his story. Ask a top manager to her story. Do this enough and your people will conclude that asking more questions and developing a sense of wonder is essential to better opportunities not just with your firm, but elsewhere long-term.
An enquiring mind is essential for short-term and long-term success. Put it to work today and get those around you to do the same.