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Why You Should Become Curious Today

Why You Should Become Curious Today

Entrepreneurs are a curious breed. They are certainly not your average person (in my opinion anyway).

When I co-founded a start up boutique advertising agency, I discovered that I was definitely in the entrepreneurial category (in fact, I didn’t really have a choice!).

It taught me a lot about myself and my own habits and traits, one of which is a natural sense of curiosity. Now I believe being curious is a really great habit to take up. It might sound a bit odd, but being curious is essential – especially if you want to be an entrepreneur.

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A natural sense of curiosity lends itself to innovation and thinking differently, and these are crucial entrepreneurial skills.

What does being curious mean?

Think about it for a moment – when you’re curious, you’re certainly not bored. Curiosity is a natural state that stimulates new ideas and innovation. When you’re curious, you’re engaged, you’re listening, you’re AWAKE!

What I’ve also noticed is that curious people tend to consume information as a means of inspiration. They soak up information like a sponge and are consistently learning from every channel available to them. This habit is what fuels innovation and the ability to come up with creative ideas inspired by ongoing stimulation.

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Curiosity inspires new ways of doing things

Curiosity breeds a natural desire to challenge traditional ways of doing things, and this, in turn, stimulates innovation. Curious people are constantly looking for ways to improve everyday things and build upon existing successes.

They are positive in their approach – it’s not a case of showcasing other peoples failures, but a natural desire to keep on improving things.

Curiosity breeds agile minds and flexible thinking

Curious people tend to have very fast minds because they consume so much information. They have an insatiable thirst for knowledge that leads to agile thinking. When you are curious, you also tend to be more flexible with your thought processes. This flexibility is essential if you want to succeed in today’s fast-paced environment. If you look at the most successful companies over the last few years such as Google and Facebook, one thing they have in common is that they embrace change swiftly, and it’s this approach that sees them retain their leadership positions.

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Curiosity encourages problem solving

When we are curious, we naturally focus on solutions instead of problems. This leads to the development of intelligent problem solving skills. What’s great about this skill is that it can be used anywhere, from within the work environment through to solving issues in the home. Once you develop a habit to problem-solve, it follows you everywhere you go and makes it easier to enjoy life.

Curiosity turns scary challenges into fun adventures!

When a challenge pops up, do you react with fear and apprehension or do you approach it with an air of curiosity? When we’re curious, everything is an adventure! No challenge is too big and no problem is too difficult for us to solve because we approach life with a positive, solution-oriented mindset. Curiosity lends itself to asking questions, instead of getting caught up in negative thinking and “can’t” attitudes.

Here’s an example of a non-curious approach to a challenge verus a curious approach:

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A non curious approach might see us saying or thinking things like this:

  • “I can’t believe this has happened to me!”  (notice how this is lead by fear)
  • “This system is just useless!” (this is a complaint with no desire to fix the problem)
  • “There’s no point trying — I’ll never find the answer.” (negative thinking)

Conversely, when we are curious, we ask questions like this:

  • “Can we come up with a new way of doing this?”
  • “What if we were to look at it from this perspective?”
  • “Why isn’t this working? I bet there’s a better way of doing things.”

If you’re feeling bored with life and in need of a fresh approach, I would highly recommend adopting curiosity as a new habit. Before you know it you will be inspired and motivated to generate new ideas, projects, and ways of doing things differently!

Here are a few ways you can start to ignite your own curiosity:

  • Make a concerted effort to keep up to date with new innovations (research new forms of social media)
  • Make it a habit to regularly try new things (try a new recipe, route to work, or even a new exercise class)
  • Be like a sponge – soak up new information from a variety of different places (at work, home, from strangers on the street, from magazines, books, movies, your phone – anywhere!)
  • Listen to other people’s opinions and learn from them (actively ask people what they think)
  • Don’t be afraid to debate the status quo (constantly challenge things!)
  • Put aside some time to regularly brainstorm about new innovations (both on your own and with other creative, entrepreneurial minds)
  • Think of ways to improve upon things (you never know — your idea may just be better!)

More by this author

Zoe B

A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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