Greetings. Not long ago as I was wandering through the “Self-Help” section of a well-known local bookstore I noticed a young woman
who seemed more than a bit perplexed. Catching my
glance, she smiled and said: “I
know that one of these books could change my life. I just don’t know which one it is.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. So I smiled back, buying a bit of time
to think through her predicament.
And then I said, with the half-baked logic of an amateur sage: “You
know, we’re all in that situation.
Only you’re smart enough to realize it.” A response that was more
thoughtful in retrospect than it seemed at the time. “Thanks,” she
replied, “I don’t feel quite so foolish now.”
I haven't seen her again and can
only hope that she found what she was searching for. Maybe it was a book
on one of those shelves. Or an
idea, or a person, or a story, or a quote, or a lesson from another culture, or
a spark of inspiration from an unknown source that gave her the right direction
to follow. Or maybe she discovered
it somewhere other than the bookstore.
On a journey halfway around the world or on a walk through a familiar
park. During an episode of a
popular TV show or a day spent at an art museum. In the words of a favorite song or the experience of a
concert held in a grand orchestra hall.
In a lecture on a subject she knew very little about, or a familiar sign
posted along a busy neighborhood street.
In the mysterious ritual of someone else’s religion, the best practice
of a renowned corporation, or the daily life of a creature from another species. The fact that she was looking curiously was the essential first step. A step that too few of us ever take as
individuals, companies and organizations, or even communities and nations. But a step that got me thinking about
how close we all are to unlocking our real potential. If only we dared to be curious in order to find the
something that could make the difference.
That could be a starting point for meaningful change and growth.
Each day we all pass by literally
hundreds of things that could change our lives, but we never take the time to
notice them. In our rush to get
from Point A to Point B, we walk past strangers who know things we’ve yet to
discover. We walk past stores,
offices, galleries, libraries, and even billboards with powerful insight to
share. We observe or ignore
holidays and events filled with meaning.
We stroll through new or familiar places failing to look below the
surface to figure out what makes them remarkable. We watch movies, listen to the radio, read a newspaper or a
blog, or search the web without seeing the real brilliance in an idea that
could matter to our life or the success of our workplace or the place we call
home. All because we have
forgotten how to be curious and, lacking this skill, are unable to believe that
important ideas abound and that we can be more remarkable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
So this week, as you go about all of the urgent things on your "To Do" list, take some time to be curious about the big and little things around you. To discover new ideas and imagine new ways to do the things that matter most.
We win in business and in life when we take the first essential step. A step on the journey to knowing ourselves and the world around us a bit better.