Tips on building and growing your people skills.

self growth

How Self Growth and Your Filtering Process Affect Your Life and Business

They always say, you attract who you are. When I was at the start of my self growth journey, I really didn’t know what this meant. I remember exactly where I was when I first realized it though. I was in grad school. And, interesting to me, it wasn’t too long before I realized that not everyone is looking to climb a mountain in their career.

Up until that point, I thought just about everyone worked like I did.

I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

What I’ve realized since then is that there are different personalities, different motivators, and even different needs that we have to consider when we’re interacting with other people.

Because of this, we have to be aware of where we are on this personal journey so we can understand how they see us.

The better we can use this power, the easier it is to get what we want in the long run.

Or as Zig Zigler said, “If you help enough people get what they want, then you automatically get what you want”.

Here’s a few things to think about…

You Attract Who You Are

Recently, I was listening to a lesson that fellow John Maxwell Team member and future guest of the AoL Podcast, Jeff Gamble, was talking about on his FB Live show “Going Executive Director”. 

In the video, he was talking about how people tend to attract others like themselves. 

Here’s the thing. Jeff might have been using the MLM world as a reference, but it’s true across the board. And it’s especially true in life and business.

For example, when I was in college 10+ years ago, I was pretty insecure about my future. Like many engineering students, even though I liked having a good time, I learned to prioritize studying. I never had time to party.

Many of the friends I had in college were that same type, especially early on. 

After I changed majors, I felt more at ease and because of that, I started attracting new friends who didn’t fit this previous mold. They were confident in where they were going. And because of this, I started to see that I had decent control over my own future.

It was during this time that I started getting involved in clubs and other organizations on campus. Interestingly, I started to understand that not everyone is wired the same way I am. And like Jeff was talking about, I started to understand that not only are there different personalities, but different people have different needs.

Start with Your Needs

In the video, Jeff talks about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs. It’s uncanny how similar they are:

self growth

Early on in college, my esteem took a beating. It seemed like no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t be the student I was used to being in high school.

What I later realized is that I just had no idea how to study. And once I figured that out when I changed majors, I’d put in the needed work to fix that. As a result my confidence rose and I allowed myself to venture out and do other things. Interestingly enough, I started trying to connect with other students around me by becoming part of different organizations (that’s the next level of needs!)

So, here’s my question for you. Where do you fall? Do you have the basics figured out? Do you have safety figured out? How significant do you feel?

If you’re still in search of those, as Jeff was saying, you’re going to attract those people into your life – either as friends or as clients.

Setting Up Your Business for Success by Filtering

That being the case, as a business owner, you might not necessarily want to attract those who are in your own situation.

This is where the importance of setting up a filter comes into place. 

A filter is nothing more than a system used to qualify potential matches. Most businesses should use a filter when they’re trying to fit people to certain roles.

Here’s a few examples of where filters could be used:

Recruiting In Direct Sales

For example, if you’re affiliated with an MLM company like Jeff was talking about, then you’ll want to filter the right people in. You’re looking for people who want to learn about the system and how to leverage it properly to grow their own business. What you’re not looking for is people who are naturally not coachable and rebel about everything. You want to surround yourself with other students of the craft.

As a Consultant

Likewise, if you’re a consultant, then you’ll want to use a filter to see if someone really wants to achieve a new version of whatever you’re helping them with. You’ll need to learn how to ask them qualifying questions about themselves, their business, and what they’re looking to achieve.

As a Doctor

Another example, let’s say you’re a doctor. You’d need to filter people based on their needs on whether or not you can help them. If you misdiagnose someone and give them bad advice on their next step, there’s a good chance you might be sued for malpractice.

In an Everyday Situation

Or here’s a final example. Let’s say you’re actually in HR for a company. Do you think you should hire people like yourself to fill in jobs in the company, or should you hire people who fit the characteristics of the role that needs to be filled. Obviously, you want to hire to the role and to do that, you’ll need a filter to find out if they fit. Otherwise, you’ll hire someone and they’ll either quit or be fired.

Action Steps

So, I hope those examples give you a bit of an idea of the importance of a filter in your business and perhaps in your life as well. My trajectory changed completely for the next 10 years after college. If it wasn’t for the input I received those years, I wouldn’t have started on my current path.

And because of that, I wouldn’t have been able to eventually realize that these people had used a filter on me – whether consciously or subconsciously.

So don’t throw people at the wall and see what sticks. Otherwise, you’ll get more people like yourself. If you’re trying to become a new version of yourself, that might not be ok.

Instead, learn to consciously use filters in your day to day life. If someone isn’t going in the direction you are and doesn’t have the same standards that you want, then there’s a good chance they’re going to be a drag on your life and your business.

Save Money, Feed People, Grow Your Business – How LVRG.IT is Helping the New Entrepreneur as a Social Venture with Cam Martinez (AoL 152)

Back in session 55, Laila and I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Summer Edwards. Outside of Veronica (who was still running her tech company), she was the first entrepreneur I had on the show who we could label as a social entrepreneur. This type of entrepreneur is someone who not only creates a business, but that business could be called a social venture – a business that has a social mission empowering it.

Since then, I’ve met all kinds of social entrepreneurs and they all have one thing in common. They’re creating something by themselves or with others that not only affects a large amount of people in a positive way, but is sustainable.

Traditionally when many nonprofits start out, they do so thinking that they’ll be funded by governmental grants or strictly through donations and fundraising. However, they tend to leave one concept on the table – partnering with companies who care about their cause.

In this session, we find out about a company which not only offers a great service through their membership, but has a passion in feeding people around the world. Obviously, they can’t do the work themselves, so that’s where a nonprofit who is already doing that comes into play.

It’s a win-win for both organizations.

So join me as I speak with one of the founders of LVRG, Cam Martinez, and learn more about his journey as a young entrepreneur and where this great idea came from.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • Has Cam always seen himself as running his own business? 10:43
  • What was it about Tai Lopez that restarted his interest in developing his own business? 13:12
  • What kind of barriers did he experience getting started in the business world? 16:06
  • How did Cam start his relationship with his future partner Sylvania in making lvrg.it? 18:46
  • What process did Cam and Sylvania utilize to find the right partner companies? 25:50
  • When did Cam realize that leveraging his network was vital to having success? 29:46
  • Why did Cam and Sylvania specifically partner with the nonprofit that they’re working with? 33:49
  • What’s Cam looking forward to in the near future? 38:21
  • If he could add a song, a book, and a film to the national curriculum, what would they be? 41:10
  • What message is out there which a disservice to youth? 42:54
  • What is something he believed when he was 18 but doesn’t believe today? 44:41
  • What tip does Cam have regarding traveling? 47:02
  • How can someone be a difference maker in their community? 48:41

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

What is the 6 Figure Roadmap Podcast?

Andrew Deitsch interviews Cam

Cam Interviews Ryan Levesque

Cam Interviews John Lee Dumas


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on CastboxiTunesStitcherPodBean, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

order from chaos

Making Order From Chaos – Understanding the Roles of Containers and Expanders on Your Team

It’s interesting how the universe works. This morning as I was watching the local news, and heard that several people have mysteriously died recently in the Dominican Republic – one of which was Barbara Corcoran’s brother.


If that name doesn’t ring a bell, she’s been one of the more prominent sharks on Shark Tank over the years.

As I was learning more about the loss of her brother, I ran across this tweet:

She goes on to talk about this further in her post on LinkedIn: There are Only Two Kinds of People

What’s ironic is that this is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently.

The Study of People Using Assessments

In my studies over the years regarding human and organizational behavior, I’ve come to appreciate personality tests. And one thing I’ve come to realize is that there are all kinds of ways to explain how a person ticks.

Some use academic means to assess the subject (Reiss Motivation Profile) while others are more widely used simply because they’re more well known and the information seems easier to convey (Myers-Briggs, DISC).

Up until recently, I’ve mainly used variations of the DISC profile to understand where people are coming from. Heck, I know the model so well that, when I’m waiting out in public, I’ll simply pass the time watching people and guessing their personality based on their personal style and how they’re interacting with others.

Here’s the kicker: most personality tests such as DISC are great if you’re checking to see how people react to a certain situation. I can tell what a person’s primary “personality” by how they respond to tasks and people.

If they’re given a task, will they try to do it or pass it off? Likewise, if they’re around others, will they try to be friends with them all or will they chill with a select group that they know well?

However, if you really want to know a person, you need to know what their Why is. Why do they approach certain situations in certain ways? This is what the Reiss Motivation Profile can help us with.

Instead of saying “they act this way around people/tasks” it instead helps us understand  “this is Why they act this way around people/tasks”.

Containers vs Expanders: Order vs Chaos

In conversing with upcoming guest of the AoL Podcast, Andy Dix, about Reiss Profile assessment, I’ve come to a realization. There are people who thrive in chaos and there are those who thrive with order.

Based on the results of my Reiss assessment, I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle. I like to make connections in chaos and help others apply that knowledge to their lives and/or business.

But I’m definitely more on the order side of things than the chaos side.

In other words, I’m more of a Container than an Expander.


Containers are detail oriented, like to keep on top of things, and like to create systems.

Expanders love ideas and action, thrive in chaos, and are 100% all out all the time.

Leveraging this Knowledge as a Leader

Generally speaking birds of a feather, flock together. Containers will naturally gravitate towards other Containers. Expanders will group with other Expanders.

Why?


Well, it’s human nature to see others from our own perspective.

Truth is, if let alone in the workplace, these individuals have the potential to drive each other crazy if made to work together without proper leadership. Containers might think Expanders are careless. Expanders might start believing that Containers aren’t moving forward fast enough.

If you compare them side by side, you might be right.

But as we’ve found out, they’re not the same. We’re comparing apples and oranges. So to avoid that frustration on your team and network, let’s tie this all together.

The Expander Leader

Let’s say that you’re an Expander – you’re constantly taking action. If you’re not making waves and meeting new people, you’re not happy.

That’s great and all, but if all your doing is planting seeds… who’s harvesting them? If all you’re doing is making the meal, who’s cleaning things up?

That’s where the Container comes in. Containers can make sense of the work you’re doing. They can help you be more efficient. And they can clean up after you if needed.

These are the types of individuals you’d want as part of your advisory team – your inner circle.

However, that being the case, you also need other Expanders. You can’t do all the things that need to be done in the field. So having other Expanders around will allow you to take more territory and explore new opportunities twice as fast.

The Container Leader

Likewise, if you’re a Container like myself, you’ll want at least one or two inner circle members to be Expanders.

Why?

If all you have is a group of Containers trying to make sense of things, you might get stuck in a loop of improvement. You’ll overthink things more than you need to.

With the addition of Expanders on your team, you can turn to them and ask “Hey, can you take this idea out to the market and see if this is something people want?”. Or, you can ask them “Hey, who do you know that could help us with…?”.

Because they love taking action, they’ll either find out the information themselves or, better yet, share the task with other Expanders in your network.

Action Steps

So to me, it’s fairly understandable why Barbara is so adamant about this topic. When paired together, Containers and Expanders can do amazing things!

With this knowledge, you can now determine whether you’re a Container or an Expander.

Then, it might be good to do an inventory of your team. What skill sets do your team members currently have? Which do you need?

Is your organization currently lead by Expanders? Then I’d imagine you need some Containers to make sense of things. There’s a good chance you’re making quite a lot of waves!

Is your startup made up of Containers? You’ll need to find some Expanders. You’ll naturally want to work on the product or service, but you need those Expanders to test it out in the market and get that feedback you need to make your company more relative to the outside world.

Either way you look at it, find and leverage those that compliment yourself.

community builders

6 Simple Practices for Community Builders

As we all know, it’s one thing to have the heart to want to make a difference in your community. It’s quite another to actually express that in a way that others can understand.

In the last post, I wrote about the mindset it takes to have an impact in your community. Essentially, if you want to grow your community, you have the community in mind as you’re working.

Meaning if you’re working with a nonprofit, for example, you want to be working with those people the nonprofit is meant to help to reach solutions. Same could be said about developing an online following. If you want people to engage with you, you have to reach out first.

But what does it mean to reach out? To be someone who cares? What are the actions that this person takes?

Here’s 6 simple practices to help you reach out and start impacting the lives of others.

6 Practices of a Community Builder

Listen and Examine

The first place you want to start when making an impact for your community is to simply listen. What are some of the problems that aren’t being addressed? Out of these problems, are there some issues you could personally help with? Is there something that sounds like it’d be fun, but maybe you don’t know that much about?

If so, get good at asking questions and digging deeper. This process, called Idea Extraction, is a skill just about anyone can put to use in their work.

Skill Up and/or Branch Out

Once you learn what the issues are in your community, it’s time to figure out some solutions. In the entrepreneurial space, this could be anything from coming up with a service of some sort to creating some software, or even creating a course that people can take on a particular topic.

If you’re in the nonprofit space, maybe you find out that a group of people aren’t being addressed the way you’d like. What would be the solution to that which would be beneficial to everyone in the community? How can you make it a win-win-win?

In either situation, you can choose to do the work yourself (or learn to) or you can team up with someone who’s already well vetted in the work you’re looking to do. A great skill to have is one where you find problems and plug people into them who are naturally gifted at fixing that kind of issue.

Act like Nick Fury and find your team!

Plan Together

Now that you’re starting to put together your own group of Avengers, it’s a good idea to get their input as far as decision making goes. Forming a council or a board of these early folks is a great idea so that you can regularly bounce ideas off of each other.

One thing you don’t want to do is to be the one constantly making decisions for the entire group. If you find yourself in that role, then there might be some things you don’t see and people might inadvertently keep info from you that would have helped make a better decision.

So make sure this group of yours plans together regularly to avoid these issues. Also, there’s the added benefit in iron sharpening iron… if you’ve selected the right people.

Oh, and make sure that these meetings are kept to a minimum. Idea people love to think things out, but if you include implementers into this meeting, they might just lose interest.

Mobilize and Implement

In the US military, there are two distinct groups of people. There are enlisted folks and then there’s officers. Officers are the supervisors of the enlisted. While they think about what needs to be done, the enlisted people have to figure out how to actually get it done.

In this new group of yours, it makes sense to plan. However, great plans don’t lead to great results on their own. You’ll need to take action to get the desired effect you want.

What’s great is that usually your implementers are usually not the idea people in your group. So make sure you let them figure out how something will actually get done once you figure out what that something is!

Adjust and Re-adjust When Necessary

Here’s the thing about implementing a plan. Sometimes it might not work out the way you thought it was going to go. In fact, most of the time, it’s not going to work out the way that you first expected it to. However, that’s not a problem. You’re not a sniper. You don’t have to calculate all the things that can go wrong with your one shot before you take it. Instead, you should think of yourself as someone who’s in control of a machine gun. Fire, then adjust your aim until your bullets start hitting the mark.

So, for example, what does this mean in the nonprofit world? Let’s assume you’re working with people who have a specific kind of health related issue. It’s your job to get them the care they need or connect them to people who can. However, they’re not showing up to their appointments with you or with the other people who can help them.

Why? Why is that not happening? It’s NOT your job to blame them for not seeking the help. It’s your job to reach them where they’re at!

Celebrate Wins

I’m sure there’s people out there that say that they don’t like taking the time to celebrate a job done well. However, those people are few and far between.

Truth is, people like being rewarded for their efforts. And sometimes, the work might be hard, and sure the outcome was worth it, but it might feel a little empty to some of your group members. They might feel like they’re being taken advantage of.

So make sure to celebrate the successful campaigns, the stressful events, and the big launches. Your team will feel like you actually appreciate them and will want to continue to put the effort into this meaningful work.

Action Steps

Now that you see what kind of work it takes to build a community, it’s up to you to fit in the details. This is simply a formula that works for just about any kind of mission. If you have any questions regarding some of the specifics of any of these steps, ask below. I’d love to tell you how we handled something for Amplify.

community building

4 Principles of Community Building

Those of us who are influencers have to repeatedly ask ourselves “Who or what am I trying to influence?” Who am I trying to help? The reasons for this varies, but I think a big part of it lies in our internal motivations.

What do we internally find important?

When it comes to the Reiss Motivation Profile, I have four motivators that lie outside of the bell curve: Curiosity, Idealism, Saving, and Honor.

When I took this test earlier this year, I struggled a bit to see where these motivators fit into my life. However, as I reflected more, I realized that my interest in politics and community building comes from these core motivators.

  • Curiosity leads me to want to keep on the forefront on whatever’s going on. I’m always asking Why?
  • Idealism leads me to ask if the situation is fair. And if it isn’t, how can it be made that way?
  • Saving shows its head by seeing the value in things that have been forgotten or are considered outdated by most.
  • And Honor pops up by me asking “What’s the right thing to do?” in just about every situation.

While I think this gives me a bit of a natural interest in working with people in my town and state, not all current or future community leaders are going to have the same motivations.

So, let’s look a bit into some of the internal principles that a successful community builder believes in.

Community Building Principles

While not every community builder has the same motivations, there are some key ideas that will help a person be successful in this role.

Go to the People

The first thing we need to focus on is the people inside the community. You can’t build a community if you don’t help those that are in it day in and day out. And to find out what people need in a community, it would make sense to go where the people are. Whether that’s in social gatherings, local meetings, or large events, you need to get out and be with the people you want to help.

Just Start

When many of us first start working on something we care about, we often think that we have to have credentials showing that we’re capable of being helpful. But that’s not always the case. In fact, most of the time we feel like we’re capable of doing something ONLY after we’ve put the time into learning it.

So, in other words, you have to start somewhere. Start with what you know and build on what you have.

Be Generally Helpful

When we are first starting out in our craft or working in our community, we often don’t feel like what we’re doing is up to standard or having the effect that we’d want it to. Which is fine – you just started!

Often the best strategy we can have is to reach out and see if we can learn from anyone who’s going down our path who’s just a bit further ahead of us or, better yet, learn from people who are already where we want to be. You need to engage with all of these individuals. That means, be available, be accountable, and be helpful whenever you can. For example, if you have a ton of connections (like me) make sure that those people are meeting each other regularly. If your gift is organization, then help people get more organized. You’d be surprised how little things mean a lot to people at all levels.

Keep the Community in Mind

When we see politicians start their campaigns they make all kinds of promises. They have an agenda, and unlike the last guy who was in office, they’re going to stick to them.


Many times, however, we see politicians let the power go to their head once they’re in and they’ll do just about anything to stay in that role – even if it goes against what they previously said they were going to do.

When you’re working in the community and you’re known to do a certain thing or be a particular role, never forget why you started it in the first place. If you do, there’s a good chance that you’re not doing the work that needs to be done. Furthermore, there’s probably a chance that you’re going to get replaced.

Action Steps

So there’s a few things you need to keep in mind as you’re setting out to make an impact. To be clear, this is simply some things to consider as you’re doing you and adding value where you can.

That said, there are a few practices you can make into habits that will help you keep these principles in check. We’ll be talking about those in the next post. In the meantime, think about the actions you currently perform in your work and how they’re of benefit to your community. If it’s a bit of a stretch to make the connection, then the next post is for you.

Great Things Don’t Come from Comfort Zones

Jordan Harbinger – In Search of Greener Pastures – Why Great Things Don’t Come from Comfort Zones (AoL 145)

Great things don’t come from comfort zones. You’ve probably heard this so many times that it’s cliche. But is it actually true?

I think so.

For me, the best things in my life have happened because I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. Whether this was starting in band when I was in junior high, going to college, or stepping out to ask Maria on a date, good things happen when you take chances. Sure, sometimes things go south and don’t work out the way you would have liked, but you never know until you get started.

Case in point, today’s guest, Jordan Harbinger, started his podcast way before they were considered “popular”. Sure you could download them on iTunes, but when he heard that people were going to be able to listen to them easier with the release of the iPhone, he knew he had to jump on the wave.

His first show, Art of Charm, was where I got to know him. And as his content matured, I felt myself maturing with it.

Today he finds himself on his own platform where he and his team work (including his wife Jen and his producer Jason) to put out The Jordan Harbinger Show 3 times a week. (As they say in Letterkenny – Must be nice!)

In this conversation, Harrison and I get the chance to find out more about the various transitions in his career and why it’s necessary at times to move on to something new.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • What does Jordan remember of his time growing up in the Midwest? 10:22
  • Why did he decide to go to law school? 16:10
  • What lead him to start interviewing bigger names in his podcast and how did he land those interviews? 22:08
  • What advice can Jordan give someone who’s starting their own show today? 30:26
  • Has he tried using comedy to get better at interviewing? 37:11
  • When it comes to learning new skills, how can someone validate the time it takes to learn new things? Even when they know it’s taking time away from their business? 38:49
  • What’s the top of the mountain look like for Jordan? 44:10
  • Are there any new experiences he finds himself doing these days now that he has less stress in his life? 46:11
  • Since Jordan gives away so much free advice, what does he say to people who say who think he’s missing out on monetization of his content? 47:52
  • What are Jordan’s top 3 influential podcasts? 50:47
  • Is there anyone that Jordan would be starstruck by? 52:14
  • What’s an issue that more people should be talking about but they’re not? 57:09
  • What’s a tip for traveling? 59:52
  • What’s the secret to achieving personal freedom? 1:00:26

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Jordan on Isaac Lidsky’s Podcast

Jordan on Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory

Cesar Millan on Reprogramming Humans to Train Dogs

Cal Newport on Digital Minimalism


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on CastboxiTunesStitcherPodBean, and/or Google Play Music. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

out of curiosity

Out of Curiosity… Why Asking More Questions Leads to More Creativity and Solutions

When I was growing up, I remember that I was always curious about how things worked. “How does a controller send signals to the TV to control Mario?”, “How could people build things as big as the pyramids?”, or even something like “Why is the Great Wall of China still around after all these years?” were examples of questions I’d find myself asking.

Little did I know that when I found an interest in Leonardo Da Vinci, I’d learn that he too was a curious mind. And what I’ve come to find out since is that creatives, especially creative leaders, are curious in general.

In this post, let’s dive a little deeper into this idea that curious minds (and understanding them as a leader) lead to better results for your team and business.

Curiosity at Play

I often to think of myself as a gatekeeper when it comes to information – a natural advisor. When it comes to the social circles I find myself in, I’m usually the one that knows random pieces of information that actually help find the solution. When I look at this characteristic and how it plays a role in my life, I don’t think I can find a better example of it in play than when I was on my high school’s Quiz Bowl team.

Quiz Bowl, if you’ve never heard of it, is basically a game where two teams compete through answering trivia. The team that answers a particular question correctly first, gets the point. On a well rounded team, the members know info about all kinds of topics. And interestingly enough, it’s often suggested that players watch Jeopardy to get practice in when we’re not practicing together.

That being the case, the members of my team were all over achievers. In fact, at times, I felt a little out of place. There were your typical book worms, sure. But there was also a few players who didn’t care about grades nearly as much as they cared about art, music, or their other usual extracurricular activities.

We were all curious. We all had great imaginations (we often referred to Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Star Trek on bus rides). And I have to admit, many members of the team were pretty damn creative.


Curiosity Yields Opportunity

While I don’t remember what each member of this team went off to do after I graduated high school, I do remember that I felt at home at Purdue when I started on my engineering degree. Not only were my friends and I focused on our school work, but we were constantly having conversations where we were asking “What If?” or “How Can I?”. We were always asking questions. And later, when I got involved with various student organizations, it was because of these brainstorming sessions that we were able to come up with all kinds of tasks and question.

Truth being, to get anything done in a particular group, you had to think outside of the box. Be it finding new sensors for a robot that was being built in IEEE to finding funding opportunities for projects in Alpha Phi Omega, thinking outside of the box was the norm.

So, from my perspective, the more questions you ask, the more options you get. And because you have more options, you’ll have more answers or solutions.

Roadblocks of Curiosity

Education

If you follow this blog at all, you might know that I’m not a huge fan of the current formal education system. Main reason? It’s hugely out of date. It’s not designed to be super flexible and frankly, most students are being left behind because they’re being told what to think, not how to think.

I started realizing this in grad school when I figured out that college wasn’t for everyone. I’d often find myself asking “Why are these students even in this class?”. Sometimes because there were some who didn’t put effort in their work, but others because they simply just didn’t seem to fit. Their personal gifts were more artistic, more EQ driven, and sometimes even more “real world” friendly.

These students were forced to think that formal education was the only way to get ahead. And 10 years later, I’ve realized that these students should have had education crafted more towards them as an individual than a one size fits all solution.

That’s what formal education is and it simply doesn’t work for everyone.

Training Managers vs Leaders

Another thing I realized during this time is that the traditional business world – the corporate world –  is the only other place where it’s frowned upon to be creative. While I was teaching in OLS, we would make it a point to remind students that an MBA is typically focused more on managing processes while our department was more focused on managing people.

It’s because of this that I think the corporate world sponsors more employees to seek an MBA. They don’t necessarily want leaders, they want managers.

These are two big hurdles in today’s world that prohibits people from being more creative.

Action Steps

So, at this point you might wondering “Ok, I have a team that could possibly be a bit more creative in their work. How do I help them get outside of the box when it comes to problem solving?” Here’s a few ideas to keep in mind:

Let Creativity Flourish!

I think, the first thing we have to realize is that creative people are inherently risky. Because they’re outside of the box, there’s going to be times when they’ll cross boundaries or simply be a bit rebellious. So you have to be willing to give them some space to work in their own world and come up with ideas. When it comes to these individuals, you’ll have to be comfortable with leaving the rule book at the door.

Help Flush Out Ideas

Speaking of ideas, another thing you want to do with creative types is work with them as they’re developing new ideas. As a business owner, you have to see them as your scientists or scouts. They’ll have many hypotheses or a half baked ideas, but they might not have thoroughly tested them. Instead of waiting for the entire process to conclude, it should be part of your job as a servant leader to help them through. Not only will you be able to sniff the idea out and determine if it’s useful for not, but if it is, you can implement it in your business quicker. Of course you have to work on your own curiosity to help them out!!

Be a Servant Leader

And finally, again as a servant leader, it’s your job to not do everyone’s job all the time, but make sure that every part of the business is working smoothly.

Take a restaurant manager as an example.

It’s not their job to just sit in the back and have the other employees come to them with issues. Sure, there might be some time in doing this, but they also need to be able to check in with those who are cleaning tables, dispensing ice cream, working the drive-thru, and serving food regularly. If they wait for something to actually go wrong until they address an issue, that’s not being proactive – that’s reactive. And we know that leaders can not be reactive!!

A quote I saw this week, goes like this:

“If you look at the people in your circle and you don’t get inspired, you don’t live in a circle, you live in a cage.”

– John Maxwell

In that same instance, don’t be the one creating the cage.