Full transparency: I have made a commitment, to myself and to my staff, to write 52 blogs in 2019 — one for each week (obviously). So here’s blog 6, my last of January and 1 ahead of pace.
In my opening story of 2019, I wrote about my intention on curiosity for this year. One of the readings I made reference to was by the author Ken Robinson, and specifically his writing that, “Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” For me, one path to discovering and stoking a curiosity is through education. And so I’ve made education, both as a student and an instructor, a focus of my first quarter objectives.
It’s Tuesday at 2:00pm, and I’m in a vacuum of education that’s a wonderful microcosm for my headspace right now. Last night, I sat alongside Elizabeth and Alivia (two Summit employees) in a new class, “Lean Marketing,” being held at Davidson’s new entrepreneurial incubator. The course is designed for startups, which we most definitely are not. I do, however, like to take the mindset of a startup business owner when it comes to curiosity. The course asks myriad questions that are good for me/Summit to answer, and in the cases where we cannot answer, it’s good for me to find one.
If nothing else, the course should provide a great shift in the flow of daily work. When things are fluid at Summit — when success is happening, when we’re hitting targets and everyone is happy — it’s too easy to become complacent that we’ve found a rhythm we need to embrace. At Summit, we’re in the start of a flow state right now, which philosopher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains: “The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself.”
So I have been hunting for a flow, and now that we’re operating in it we need to “move up to keep the flow going.” Part of moving, for Summit, is to keep learning, to keep teaching, to stay curious.
While I spend Mondays as a student, ripe with curiosity to learn from to others, I spend Wednesday as a facilitator, learning with and from my Summit staff as part of our new School of Innovation. More specifically, I am leading an 8-week course on Leadership Development. Through 2 weeks, a group of 8 Summit folks have gathered at our roastery to read, talk and argue about what is leadership. Week 1’s theme was “Start with Why,” using the teachings of Simon Sinek. We studied what other companies (like Apple) or people (like Martin Luther King Jr.) have accomplished with a purpose/mission at their core. In week 2, we talked about “Leading with Empathy and Passion,” and studied the restauranteur Danny Meyer and Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya. Tomorrow, we’re talking about communication and asking questions.
As a student of businesses, both good and bad, I’ve learned that a theme that’s consistent with success is just that — learning. It’s using curiosity to drive the engine, a constant hunger to do better, to learn more, to make a bigger impact. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from people whose careers in marketing have given them an expertise to share, and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to share my expertise with those who are trying to learn from me.
If our company, our communities, and our world can embrace an understanding that curiosity breeds achievement, that it’s not only ok but encouraged to say, “I don’t know, please tell me,” we will be on a path toward a brighter future for ourselves, those around us and the world we inhabit.