There ain’t no rules around here
It may have killed the cat, but it created the light bulb.
The first time I visited Cartagena in Spain with some friends I had a fascinating tour around the ancient Roman Theatre there. However the second time I made that visit was so much more rewarding.
The reason? In the intervening couple of years, I had taken an interest in European History and learning to speak Spanish. What a difference that made!
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
~ Albert Einstein
My curiosity to learn a little more about European History was sparked by a rather impulsive purchase of an old book entitled “The Story of America: A National Geographic Picture Atlas” from a second-hand store in Oklahoma. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history of America which enriched my understanding of the origins of the nation and gave me a whole new interest in exploring new places whenever we manage to make a visit there.
That purchase sparked an interest in history generally, and led on to an interest in European history, and to learn about the background to the building of the Roman Theatre in Cartagena, and along with my elementary skills in learning Spanish meant that on my second visit to the area I was able to tie together the history with a limited understanding of the descriptions of the exhibits in the museum and a whole new world of exploration, curiosity and interest had been born.
Now the fascinating thing about that episode is that I had absolutely no interest in either history or languages when I was younger, and I had even managed to fail my French language exam at O’level, twice. It is so interesting how a small dose of curiosity can make such an enormous difference not only in what we find interesting and how we spend our time, but how much more interesting and enriching other activities can become as a result.
The single greatest difference between curious, growing people and those who aren’t is the belief that they can learn, grow and change.
~ John Maxwell
When I started out in the world of business I was employed by a French firm that had several factories in the UK and Europe, and my job took me to visit many of them quite regularly. The net result was that now and again I found myself in airports with time to spare, and that was when I started to find an interest in the work by Peter Drucker, Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell among others.
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”
~ Peter Drucker
It also led to an enduring interest in the topic of Leadership, and of learning about what it takes to make a great leader, and indeed to ask “what is leadership” and what difference does it make. At the time I was a Project Manager and it was really interesting to see the difference leadership can make on the way a project turns out. It was then that I learned that “you can manage things, but you need to lead people”.
At the time I was involved in costing up control system automation projects and then delivering the projects that we were successful in winning. In a world where the margins are around 10%, it was really easy to be just a little too expensive and lose the business, or be a little too cheap, win the business and make a loss! It was here that I learned the benefit of what John Maxwell calls “the Law of Curiosity” since the best way to succeed in that world was to find an innovative way to make a great solution at a lower cost.
“When average people ask themselves, “Can I do this?” they base it on the circumstances they see…. An abundant thinker asks, “How can I?” This simple twist of semantics changes everything. It forces your mind to create a new solution.
~ Brian Klemmer
In the initial stages of putting a solution together, it was imperative that we spent some time on the “How can I?” question to look for all the ways that we could deliver a solution to satisfy the specification and yet take cost out of the process. It was all too easy to come up with the same ways of providing a solution as everyone else, the secret to successful tendering was to find a way of delivering the same outcome in new, innovative ways.
Almost every advance in art, cooking, medicine, agriculture, engineering, marketing, politics, education, and design has occurred when someone challenged the rules and tried another approach.
~ Roger von Oech
(author of A Whack on the Side of the Head)
That principle remains so true in the effective Leadership of any organisation, and never has it been truer than in today’s information overloaded world. Thomas Edison was always trying to innovate and come up with new ideas, perhaps the best known of which include the phonograph, and motion picture camera and the incandescent electric light bulb. He famously said: “There ain’t no rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something!” and “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.