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Did Curiosity Kill the Cat?

As the saying goes… curiosity killed the cat. I don’t actually think that’s true. The cat might be dead but I’d say it was more likely bad planning than curiosity that did the kitty in.

I’d say that because one of the most common characteristics of successful people is curiosity. Their need to know how something works, their need to understand why it works that way, and their need to know if there is a better way for it to work pushes them to try new things. 

Successful people are seldom willing to merely accept the status quo. 

They take risks. Not wild risks but well thought out, well measured and well considered risks. Their curiosity, or need to know, drives them to expose the “as is” to the possibilities of the “could be.” They know that without a doubt good enough never really is good enough. 

Successful people develop a plan that allows them to minimize the downside of risk taking. They understand the potential for failure and they are willing to accept that risk. What they won’t accept is the failure that comes from not trying, or the failure that comes from a lack of curiosity. 

Successful people know that never taking a risk is the riskiest move they can make. 

When you ask a truly successful person “why do you do it that way?” you will never hear, “because we have always done it that way.”  They know exactly why they do what they do and why something is done a certain way because their curiosity has motivated them to learn.

I’d bet a bunch a money that if curiosity really did kill the cat that the cat thought learning something new was worth the risk and hey, at least the cat died knowing. 😊

So what about you? Are you the type of cat that needs to know? Will you allow curiosity to fuel your success? 

I, and you, need to know….

 
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The Three W’s

Some people want stuff. Some people wish for stuff. Successful people work for stuff. 

I remember when the Mall of America was being built. It was a huge shopping mall that opened to much fanfare. I, in my infinite wisdom gave it a year. I was sure it was going to be a white elephant, destined to one day be bulldozed into oblivion. 

It’s undergoing a major addition as I write this, 23 years after it first opened. Pretty soon I’m going to have to admit that my prediction may not happen at all. 

The Mall of America now attracts more visitors each year than all the Disney theme parks from around the world… combined. I guess it’s doing okay.

I remember something, or more accurately, someone else from the time the mall was getting ready to open. His name was Bob, he was a pretty good sales person. He wasn’t flashy or especially polished but he was one of the hardest working sales professionals I’ve ever met, even to this very day.

Well Bob worked for a food service company and his goal was to sell his services to one or more of the many restaurants that would reside on the fourth floor of the mall. Most of the restaurants were national chains not based in Minnesota and he faced huge challenges just figuring out who the buyers were.

He met one road block after another. This guy said to talk to that guy, that guy said to talk to someone else. I’m certain most salespeople would have simply stopped trying.

But Bob kept working. He discovered that his biggest challenge was that one of the major restaurants was to be run by a management company out of California. So he pursued the buyer for the management company.

He found him and through a relatively brief conversation discovered he was the first salesperson who had gotten through to him. He also discovered something else….the management company was actually going to manage most of the fourth floor restaurants.  

Bob had struck gold…he sold ALL the accounts at once. It was a huge success and it was a huge sale.

As Bob shared the effort required to find all the people and put the deal together he kept repeating how lucky he was. Lucky to find the management company, lucky to find the buyer, lucky to be the first salesperson to get in. Yes, Bob was one lucky guy. Of course, his “luck” was completely created by his hard work. 

Bob demonstrated that the harder you work the luckier you get. Bob focused on the third W! 

You can want stuff you’ll never have, you can wish for stuff that the “lucky people” have or you can work for both and have what you earn. 

It is a life choice…I didn’t say it was an easy choice but it is a choice. In most cases those who would say the ability to work is not a choice have already made theirs.

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The Destructive Nature of Can’t

I remember reading one time that failure comes in can’ts and success comes in cans. That’s kind of clever but it’s also true. People with a predisposition of “I can’t” will have a much harder time finding success than those who have a predisposition of ”I can.”

Can’t is a limiting word. Can is a limitless word.

Less successful people focus on what they can’t do while the most successful people are focusing on what they can do. 

Can and can’t are just two words, little words at that, but which one you allow to dominate your vocabulary will go a long way towards determining your level of success. 

Make certain before you say that you can’t do something that you don’t really mean “I won’t.” Sadly, “I can’t” is an all too easy excuse for not making the effort required to succeed. Successful people have made a habit of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Successful people don’t really like doing them either but they know their success depends on it so they do them anyway.

It’s pretty tough to just think your way into success but it’s very easy to think your way out of it…just think can’t. Once you decide you can, then and only then will you begin working on the “how” to succeed. 

When we decide that we can’t then we have no reason to try and failing to try is the straightest line to true failure. Never let that little “t” keep you from the future that you deserve if only you’re willing to try. 

You can… and now you know you can!

 
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When You Know It All

A while back I was meeting with a representative of a company that helped learning organizations measure the effectiveness of their training. We got off track a bit and were discussing various certifications and I mentioned a certification for marketing executives that I had initially earned several years before. I told him that there was a lot of education and testing involved in earning and maintaining that very challenging certification. 

He stated that he wouldn’t need anything like that because he already knew all he needed to know to succeed in his career. I was polite and finished out the meeting but I knew in that moment I would not be using this person or their organization. 

If he already knew everything then it meant that he had nothing left to learn. It may have even become impossible for him to learn. I couldn’t help but wonder how this know it all would ever learn enough about my organization to actually help us. I figured if we used him we would be getting some cookie cutter measuring system that was a “one size fits all” deal. That was not what I was looking for… at all.

Talking with him reminded me of the story about the United Sates Patient Office closing in 1899 because “everything that could be invented, already was.” The office never actually closed but there were “know it alls” at the time who recommended that it should.

Truly successful people will never be a know it all. They know they can’t know it all and they know that they don’t have to. They also know what they don’t know. 

Truly successful people learn something new every day. They are always looking for the newest idea. The best idea doesn’t have to be their idea, they will use and benefit from good ideas no matter where they come from.   

The most successful people are in constant learning mode, they are as far from a know it all as you can get. 

The biggest problem with being a know it all, other than annoying everyone around you, is that once you believe you know it all you see no use in trying to learn anything new. Much like the patient office, you have learned all there is to learn. You’re done!

When you’re done learning you’re done period. Whatever success you’ve had will begin to wane. If you’re not pushing your limits to learn, if you’re not trying new things, if you’re not taking risks then you may be playing life to safe… or you may think you already know everything you need to know. 

Either way, you’re likely seriously limiting your potential. 

You can’t possibly know it all, the good news is, you don’t have to. The great news is you can learn something new this very day. Keep your knowledge base fresh and your success will always be fresh too!