One of the attributes of highly successful entrepreneurs is curiosity. You don’t know what you don’t know until you step out of your comfort zone to learn. Curious business leaders ask questions like; “Are we charging the right price? Why are those particular customers not coming back? Why do I have so much trouble finishing things? Is that employee happy?”. These can be seriously uncomfortable questions and at the same time answering them can lead some very cool insights that can move your company in the direction you want it to go.
Let’s take the example of the question “Is that employee happy?”. If we go down this road we may not like what we learn. We may find we have to change some things about the way we run our companies or how we treat the people that work for us. We might learn this employee is not a fit for our company and needs an exit strategy.
What are some good things we could learn being curious using this same example? We may learn the employee is tired of something other employees are doing that is causing us to loose customers and has some really great ideas on how to fix this. It might be that the employee is bored and could be doing so much more to contribute to the success of the organization. Being curious by asking open questions and engaging in a meaningful conversation would also tell that employee that you really do care and appreciate their input.
Being curious support everything you are responsible for as a business owner. Be curious and you could learn that you are in fact not charging enough and are able to raise your prices. You could learn that your “preferred” supplier is actually charging you more than the deal they are giving new customers resulting in cost savings. You could learn that your messy desk and inability to finish anything is the ADHD you had as a child that is still with you and come up with a plan to get help.
Here are some of my Three Favorite Curiosity tools:
“Ask Don’t Tell” – The best way to find something out is to ask a question and keep asking until you know everything you wanted to know about that topic. When we go into a conversation with guns blazing and all the answers we learn nothing. Be curious.
“Acknowledgement is not Agreement” – Being curious means being open and tolerant of others point of view. You don’t have to agree to be able to listen and learn.
“What is the missing or broken systems causing this?” – When faced with a problem in your company chances are you haven’t made a decision about how something needed to be done …look for the underlying broken system and keep looking until you find the root missing system.
One of the wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs I know has a habit of engaging in conversations with taxi drivers when he travels. He told me that if you really want to know what is happening with a local economy and politics you have to be curious.