How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 9)

We all know someone who is annoying because their opinions reflect a pessimistic perspective.  They claim to “know” 43 reasons something will not work and posture themselves as the lone voice of reason as they grimace and pound their fists.  Even if people like this are right often enough to have credibility, it is convenient to shove them aside because they aggravate those who want agreement and who follow the boss like the proverbial pack of lemmings.

In situations where important decisions need to be made and problems need to be solved, which type would you rather have on your team?  In terms of your career, which type would you rather be?  Before choosing person #2 as the safer career choice, consider the following opinions:

“If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”
— Attributed to Winston Churchill

“Too much agreement kills the chat.”
— Eldridge Cleaver

But, being like Person #1 has its risks, too.  Rubbing someone the wrong way too many times could cut you out of the action when you are most needed.

“If two men on the same job agree all the time,
then one is useless.
If they disagree all the time,
then both are useless.”

— Darryl Francis Zanuck

There is a third choice and it’s not a “have it both ways” middle of the road position.  Very simply, it is, “think objectively and think for yourself.”  Before forming an opinion, look at the facts and be open to possibilities.  Consider all options from a risk/reward perspective.    Listen well and ask thoughtful questions every step of the way.  Seek to understand the emotional aspects of the situation and any proposed actions.  Then, form your own opinion and express it in a timely, respectful manner without waiting for the results of a poll.  In other words, becoming a 3 means being a creative, independent thinking, responsible problem solver.

“If two people agree on everything, one of them isn’t thinking.”
— Unknown

Whether a person is one who always sees the gloomy side of the future or one who always finds a comfortable position with the majority, neither is on an upward career path.  Why?  Because a good boss wants and needs to hear a variety of honest viewpoints.  Bad bosses want edification of their ideas.  If you establish your reputation as the “devil’s advocate” (one who argues just for the sake of argument) you’ll start seeing your opinions convicted without a fair trial.  How will you know?  Your first clue: when you notice people rolling their eyes or sighing as soon as you open your mouth.  Your second clue: when you stop getting invited to the meeting.

Is being a 1 or a 2 sabotaging your future?  Could becoming a 3 be a career-advancing strategy for you?  Think and decide for yourself.

— CC

How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 5)

Curious George was always getting into trouble.  I guess the little monkey didn’t know or didn’t care that “curiosity killed the cat.”  Comedian Steven Wright cares.  He once said, “Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.”  These perspectives suggest that curiosity is risky business.  And maybe it’s true.  But, without a healthy measure of curiosity, where would creativity come from?  Curiosity is the seed of creativity.  Maybe a candle metaphor is more appropriate.

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” — William Arthur Ward

Where would we be, individually and collectively, without creativity? Creativity is not a special emotion reserved for the fine arts and the field of entertainment.  It is woven into life itself, at least any life worth living.  Without  creativity, human life would be a robotic sort of pre-programmed existence — mediocre, monotonous and perhaps impossible.

“People die when curiosity goes.” — Graham Swift

In thinking of the challenges we face each day at work, creativity is without a doubt, a career requirement.  Every new problem calls out for creative solutions.  Without it, people would not be able to think outside the box and struggle seeing the options inside the box.  What value do employees have who can’t bring creativity to bear on problems?

The language of our times suggests that we’ve become lazy with our curiosity.  “Been there, done that” and “whatever” have replaced the exuberance of “Wow!” and “Cool!”  I’m suspicious that fear of curiosity may be causing creativity to go into hibernation.  Are you afraid to ask “Why?” or “What if?” questions.  Whether its laziness or fear, when curiosity is absent, creativity and the ability to solve problems are right behind.  Without realizing it, you have sabotaged your future.

Stimulating creativity is not difficult.  Just break a few patterns.  Try taking a different way to work or changing radio stations.  Eat dinner at a different time or order something different from the menu.  Talk to someone on an elevator.  Read a book.  Get up 30 minutes earlier.  Learn a new word and use it in conversation.  Attend a workshop.  Call a friend you haven’t seen recently.  Do something that’s hard.  Add something to this list that your friends would think is strange.  (Then, do it!)

When people are intentional about breaking patterns, curiosity returns and creativity grows again.  When curiosity and creativity replace lazy habits and fear, people are able to see new opportunities and new solutions.

“One of the secrets of life is to keep our intellectual curiosity acute.”
— William Lyon Phelps

Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a secret, just a forgotten truth.  All that’s needed is a reminder in a blog and a role model like Curious George to whip those creativity muscles back into shape.

— CC