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

CHANGE

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” This expression can be a good reason to keep on doing what has proven to work effectively. Makes sense, right? But, this good advice misapplied can also create problems. Consider someone using this cliché as an excuse to avoid necessary change. A threadbare tire that still holds its air comes to mind. Technically, it is still working. But disaster lurks. Consider also something that works, but is about to fail due to a change in external conditions. This happens in business all the time. Products, services, and business models are constantly being made obsolete by something new and better. In business, continuous change is required to survive.

“Change before you have to.” — Jack Welch

Now, to my main point. Some people will do almost anything to avoid change. Certain kinds of change make people uncomfortable, even fearful. Instead of change being an opportunity for improvement or to experience something new, they gravitate toward the familiar, which they acknowledge could be inferior. Funny thing, this tendency seems to increase as we age.

“The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.” — Cliché

“Middle age is when your broad mind and narrow waist begin to change places.” — E. Joseph Cossman

Change should not be something to automatically fear. After all, changing socks is a fantastic idea. Changing lanes is often necessary. Changing keys makes music interesting. Changing colors makes autumn beautiful. People enjoy watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Finally, this post is the result of many changes. (You should have seen the first 59 drafts.)

Change is more acceptable when seen as a remedy for suffering. Like most elections, the buzzword in the last presidential election cycle was “change.” Most of the candidates have used it or similar words such as reform. For example, Huckabee proposed to “reform” the tax system. Obama’s overall theme was “stand for change.” (This was later changed to “Unite for Change.”)   In these and most other cases, the same game plan is in force. Step 1: Convince the people something is terribly wrong or headed in that direction. Step 2: Offer to come and save the day through “change.” (I think I hear the Lone Ranger theme song.) Before taking sides in these matters, some questions we must ask are, “Will the proposed changes really save the day?”, “Which person or group is most qualified to save the day?” and “Does the day even need to be saved?”

Here are some thoughts to help change our attitude toward change.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.” — Professor Irwin Corey

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.” — Eric Hoffer

“No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.” — John Stuart Mill

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” — Carol Burnett

“The most effective way to manage change is to create it.” — Peter Drucker

“Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with.” — Peter Marshall, US Senate chaplain

“If the rate of change on the outside (of the firm) exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” — Jack Welch

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.” — Jim Rohn

“We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.” — Harrison Ford

“The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything – or nothing.” — Nancy Astor (1879 – 1964)

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” — William James (1842 – 1910)

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffet

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” — James Gordon, Medical Doctor

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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