You have to have an aggressive curiosity about anything that might bear upon your organization’s long-term aims or upon your performance of your roles, whether at work or in life.
It means you have to become a virtuoso question-asker. People usually don’t tell you what you need to know. To get at what you want, you have to become really good at asking for it.
This in turn means choosing carefully the people you talk to. This means choosing carefully the inputs that are of value to you and your purposes. This means reading judiciously – but widely – to reach out for anything that might possibly bear upon your unique path or performance.
It means having your mental radar on at full power.
For example, there is no one-size-fits-all reading list. What’s popular (best-sellers) could well be a waste of your time. For the same reason, the one-size-fits-all recipes for success would be a waste of your time.
You are unique. Your organization is unique. Your reason for its existence is unique. Your needs for communication are also unique.
Those, you have to invent. Mass messages are addressed “to whom it may concern.” That is never you.
You have to do your own scanning and evaluating. You have to be the doer, not the dumpster. Know what you need, and go after it. The more trash you collect in your mind, the harder it will be for you to think clearly, to communicate clearly, to open up the thinking spaces you need open.
If you know all of the answers, you’ve sentenced yourself to a slow death.
You may indeed know the answers. But if you’re in the learning mode, you will question yourself relentlessly. And you will question others and the rest of the world incessantly.
You will not take your own opinions and perceptions for granted. They are not “the truth.” They are merely your own mental machinations.
When you ask others in just the right way, you will find that there are fourteen – or fourteen hundred – opinions. Ask, and then ask again.
What you don’t ask about you may never know. What you do know is infinitesimal, and never more than your own interpretation of what’s going on in the world.
If you are not in the learning mode, put yourself there. You can only do this by wondering – by wondering how others perceive/conceive the world, by being skeptical of what you and those around you assume to be true, by being curious about how effective leaders have done this.
Never, ever stop learning. If you do, you will have stopped yourself in your present tracks.
Besides, all the fun and excitement comes from your curiosity, not from your knowledge.
– Lee Thayer