Searching for guidance to ladder up ie driving personal success?

I find that in serious situations you must gather relevant information, analyze the data and choose one of two or three basic paths forward. Over the past few weeks I shared one of my tricks – the Rule of 3 – as a guidepost to keeping you focused as well as evaluating fear vs. confidence to create personal courage.

Both of these address certain dimensions of self-awareness that feel more in the moment. So, I go to thinking about basic personality traits that drive personal success and stumbled on the notion of your starting point when addressing everyday issues.

Do you default to Critical or Curious?

Each one of these has a powerful connotation for dealing with the problems that arise in everyday business life and I would posit that your approach to these issues will ultimately drive the outcome. Or it will drive the outcome as others judge your role in that outcome.

The critical approach is one in which every idea, proposed solution, and evaluation is viewed through the lens of what is wrong with what is being shared. We all know people like this and many times we are that person too. When you start with this point of view we are quickly labeled the curmudgeon. And everyone knows who the curmudgeon in the group is.

The biggest downfall of this approach is that it naturally limits discussion; who wants to bring up ideas that get shot down immediately. As a leader of a group this is just plain bad leadership.

The curious approach is one in which you leave room for lots of discussion. The point of view is one in which every idea is met with a furthering of the thought. There are no limits when curious. Questions are sometimes met with more questions. And many times the group gets to the core of the issue/opportunity.

The basis for all improvisational comedy is the theory of Yes, and . . . The concept is very simple. In order to keep the scene moving forward, each actor is encouraged to take the previous actor’s thought and expand on it. Your “yes” response provides encouragement and approval to your fellow actor/business partner.

Look in the mirror. Are you a critical or curious business partner? The answer may just be the honest appraisal of how you add value inside your company.


This article first appeared in INC.COM – find more of my articles there.