The Curiosity to Change is Key to Success in Business and at Work


For many years now, on my desk (wherever my desk has been), I’ve had a coffee-stained copy of the Serenity Prayer in a frame.

A work friend of mine gave it to me, years ago, as a half-serious, half-ironic gift reflecting my chosen vocation of Human Resources.  The frame has a music box attached, and when wound, it plays “Amazing Grace.”  Believe me, it’s not that kind of vocation.

Vocationally speaking, before I can authentically access the courage and the wisdom to change the things I can (and the results must be progress and productivity, not to just change for change’s sake), my curiosity needs to be in full swing to ensure my full engagement.

The introduction of email into my work life is a great example. 20 years ago,  in addition to my full-time job, I was working as a freelance writer for my friend Deb’s public relations and advertising business, and I would literally have to drive about 15 miles to Deb’s house with the computer disk containing DOS text file with my writing assignment (Deb had a Mac and I had a Windows-based desktop, and MS Word was not compatible between the two platforms back then).  This was a step up from faxing Deb my draft copy, which she then would have to re-type.  Oh, yeah.  Crazy, right? Duplicate / wasted work drives me absolutely crazy, that’s for sure.

And then Joel and I got our first AOL account:  I loved it and would spend hours exploring AOL and its functionality, with the albatross of a 2400-baud phone modem, no less.  About 6 months into that new experience, AOL introduced the attachment functionality.  That is, you could attach a text or MS Word file to an email and send it someone else without driving to their house.  It was a no-brainer to me, they had me at hello.  It took me several months to convince Deb that this was a good thing, and that she should get an AOL account, too.  But once we started using it for our work together, it transformed how we got our work done, allowing for near real-time electronic collaboration back and forth via email.

The next hurdle was our business networking group.  18 years ago, we communicated with each other via fax, the U.S. Mail and the land-line telephone.  Only a few of us in the group, including me, had cell phones.  (My first cell phone weighed almost 2 pounds and was my sole holiday gift that year, with a $450 price tag.)  Always the heretic, I asked the group to consider getting AOL accounts so we could communicate with each other more expediently via email.  It was not well-received, and at least half the group did not know what email was.  Deb and I, however, stood firm and asked them to try it, which they all eventually did.  18 years later, one of our meeting engagement ground rules for the networking group is to turn off the umbilical cords of their respective smartphones.  Ah, how far we’ve come, perhaps too far.

Shortly thereafter, in 1995, high-speed internet access was introduced at my company – it was only available commercially at that time.  I remember the time of day vividly, it was about 3:30 PM in the afternoon.  I was mesmerized.   I took a break at 9:30 PM that night just long enough to briefly call Joel to let him know that I couldn’t quite leave work yet, I was having too much fun.  Joel has always supported the oft-times obsessive detours where my curiosity can lead me, and vice versa.

Then in 2004, at our local SHRM conference, Gerry Crispin of CareerXroads presented on this new platform called LinkedIn.  It was in beta at the time, and you could only join by invitation.  Gerry offered to invite anyone attending the presentation to LinkedIn if we gave him our business cards.   I did.  When I signed into LinkedIn and it asked to upload all of my Outlook contacts, I hesitated only momentarily.  My curiosity was more powerful.  I spend hours exploring and learning LinkedIn, eventually using it successfully as a candidate sourcing tool, and much more.

All of these tools have contributed to the success of both my career and my business, and for that, I’m very grateful.  My gratitude for my native curiosity is even greater, however.  For without my curiosity, I would not have the courage to change, grow and succeed in business and at work.

 

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