A magic wand that could control events would indeed be a magical thing to have. Unfortunately, humans are grounded in the reality of science and the knowledge that some things are simply uncontrollable. Being able to accept the unknown is a skill that is essential for leaders of quality.
Wish in one hand, and surely you’ve heard the rest…
There are lots of familiar sayings and expressions about wishing for things (and how they never appear). Many of us likely yearn for a Harry Potter-style wand that could instantly clean our homes, or change people’s ideas, or all the other fantastic things we might imagine.
As a leader, you are expected to provide new, innovative ideas for your organisation. Part of this innovation is being able to react quickly to unknown and unplanned for problems and issues. No matter how much you plan, something can always throw a wrench into those plans.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
Instead of indulging your fears of the unknown, try to feel a sense of curiosity. Curiosity comes about when you have a gap between what you know and what you don’t know. Being curious triggers dopamine in the limbic part of your brain. Dopamine is the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter, and it helps you want to make new discoveries and solve problems. This potent chemical can give you the courage to forge through the fearful unknown.
Curiosity can be thought of as the wick in the candle of learning, and leaders who can create the conditions for learning will also create the conditions for innovation. Your employees need to feel like they are allowed to have curiosity, and not fear ‘what if’ outcomes.
Cultivating the environment of curiosity and innovation, instead of fear and anxiety
The can give you the tools you need, to imagine a new kind of future, to cultivate curiosity, and to foster an attitude of experimentation and adaptability. While you won’t get a magic wand to cure all your ills at work, you will gain the knowledge based on neuroscience to improve your innovation and attitude regarding leadership.
We know that new thoughts are not possible in brains that are rushing from one idea to the next. These racing thoughts may often occur when you are trying to imagine all the possibilities of something unknown. Your brain is the most powerful tool you have, and you can give your brain the best opportunity to function at peak performance.
You can be the kind of leader that panics when something new and unexpected comes along, or you can be the leader who shows innovation, courage and agility. Embrace the unknown with a healthy sense of curiosity, and pass this thinking on to those around you, fostering an environment conducive to creative ideas and new thoughts.