The three things that are most essential to achievement are common sense, hard work and stick- to-it-iv-ness” Thomas Edison
Edison may have left one other essential leadership attribute off this list. It isn’t surprising that he didn’t mention it. People who have this one thing seldom recognize and less often articulate it. This attribute is something you can’t make yourself do, it is instead a natural byproduct of being involved in work you love and are good at. Just the other day this success trait was made clear in a rather dramatic way. Here’s how it happened.
The construction project was not going well. The lead architect, who had been a likeable, enthusiastic team member for a long run of successful projects as a junior staffer, was promoted to partner in his firm. Almost overnight he turned from being a helpful creative contributor, focused on service, to a high- handed controller who was centered on doing things the firms’ way. He was nonchalant and appeared distracted in meetings.
Then a new project manager joined this team. He had many years experience in construction, but none with this architect. After attending a couple of project meetings, one of the team members asked what he thought about the architect. He replied, “There is one thing I look for in a great architect. That one thing is curiosity. Does anyone see curiosity in this guy?” The room was true-tellingly still for a handful of anguishing minutes. They confronted the architect about his behavior. He seemed unaware and was without apology. In his defense he recited his personal success history. They hired a new architect.
Curiosity – a sense of wonder, an unquenchable desire to inquire to: find a new,create a better, and think beyond- is an observable trait in talented people when they are fully engaged. Curiosity vanishes when people allow themselves to get off balance, distracted and miss things they truly love. Whether you are an inventor, architect, sales person, manager, hairdresser, physician or president, we all need Edison’s three part recipe for achievement. If you add the leaven of curiosity what will rise from this one ingredient can bring more light to a dark world, put new life in an off balanced career and may even resurrect a few dying projects along the way.
Working Journal Entry– Is anything distracting you from what you are best at? What do you need to start focusing on so you will experience more wonder, curiosity and achievement in your leadership and life?