One of the things I have always loved about coaching and leading people is watching them grow.
Not just physically with their skill set, but mentally and emotionally as well.
I think that is why I find so much joy in sitting back and watching my kids be coached by people I trust who I know have a passion for teaching and leading.
People who have been there before and understand what is going through their little minds, what gets them interested, what motivates them, what gets them to believe in themselves, what gets them to find joy in the process, what makes them want to go to practice no matter how early/late it may be, and consistently rewards their curiosity with teaching moments.
The other night as Maddie and I walked out of practice at 8:15 pm I asked her if she had fun and told her how much I loved watching her practice.
For the first few minutes of our drive home, I just listened, and then when there was a break in our conversation, I asked her, “Do you know what else I love about watching you practice?”
Now, I adjust the rear-view mirror and keep one eye on the road and one eye on her when we are talking. When I asked her this, I saw her eyes do a little dance as she knew something good was coming.
“What’s that Daddy”, she asked?
“I love how curious and coachable you are?”
“I know, Daddy.”
Apparently I have told her that before and I will probably continue to tell her and her brother EJ that for many years to come as it is a trait that will serve them in every facet of their life.
Curious and coachable.
Curiosity and coachability go hand-in-hand and it is something that needs to be valued and highlighted at every level of leadership.
Curiosity of a Child
Curiosity is an essential ingredient for good leadership and for being coachable.
Curiosity is a difference-maker and a game-changer that helps fuel our creativity.
Yet, for some reason, as we begin to venture into our professional careers we have acquired a high level of self-censorship as if by asking questions such as ‘why’ we are questioning authority.
Many factors can contribute to this including but not limited to, a rigid upbringing, negative experiences, and societal norms which can significantly reduce our natural sense of curiosity.
While coaching college basketball, I was constantly seeking out new ideas about x’s and o’s (strategy), motivating and inspiring, recruiting, academic support of student-athletes, and the business side of coaching.
Constantly asking why, how, and when questions allowed me to:
- Learn new strategies
- Develop new skills
- Improve my strengths
- Keep things fresh for our team
- Create positive energy and enthusiasm that people could feed off of
- Make it more fun for everyone
- Take my leadership to the next level
Not to mention the relationships I built along the way, the increase in my self-confidence, and the trust I earned from the players and coaches in our program.
Do not be afraid to be curious as that will drive creativity which will give you the ability to outthink your opponents-reframing, improving, and executing novel solutions.
Also, you will develop the ability to deliberately create ideas that add value to your organization and your stakeholders.
All of this is possible by tapping into the innate curiosity which we had as a child. It can take your leadership, performance, and career to a whole new level.
Here are three ways to tap into your curiosity:
Question the obvious– Realizing the physical and mental frameworks that limit your potential success, challenging orthodoxy to evolve and revolutionize performance. Orthodoxies are deeply held beliefs about what drives success in a company or industry. If left unchallenged, these beliefs can blind one from seeing new opportunities.
Know what you don’t know– Let me finish this… know what you don’t know and then became insanely curious about figuring it out. It is best to let go of the ego-driven embarrassment of being honest with yourself and others that you don’t know, then you can creatively re-frame situations from new angles and perspectives. Learning is a never-ending journey that can lead us to mastery and self-actualization.
Let passion and purpose guide you– When your curiosity is fueled by your passion and driven by a purpose then you will persist in digging for not just new information, but rather new information that will serve you and your people. Keep moving forward and finding a way.
Rinse, repeat, pivot, and tweak.
Get outside your comfort zone, embrace adversity, and let go of predictability.
Put Your Curiosity to Work
Take some time and think through each one of these methods for tapping into your curiosity.
1. Identify an orthodoxy you can challenge
2. Brainstorm on what you think you are missing… why, what, and how?
3. Figure out how your passion will be fed by this knowledge and how it will serve your purpose.
4. Go to work!