My father, Harry Thurlbeck, was an incredible person! Born into a large working-class family in the 1920’s, he was a self-educated man who had a thirst for knowledge – for finding out about people, places and things. He was also a very talented artist, whose drawings remain treasured family possessions. Offered a scholarship to art school at age 14, he turned it down to become an apprentice motor mechanic, so he could contribute to his family’s income.
This combination of artist and mechanic defined a fabulous role model for me. An observant, though quiet man, my father was insatiably curious; always reading books and taking things to pieces and re-assembling them. He ‘fixed’ stuff that these days we would just throw away and replace.
Dad’s curiosity drove an innate desire within him to learn, as well as unlocking practical outcomes, especially for a man with a limited income and a family to care for. As a child, I loved to watch him concentrating intently on fixing things – I remember him taking a vacuum cleaner apart, repairing fences and servicing our first family car, an old Ford Prefect. It was held together by rust, grease, and lots of loving attention … and was the pride of our household till we bought our first black and white television.
Dad was always meticulous in his approach. He took his time and had an inventive problem solving approach. He was ever willing to play with new ideas, risk failure, remain upbeat and always come back with renewed enthusiasm. I confess that in trying to emulate him over the years, I have rarely achieved finding a place for every last nut, screw or bolt! I guess I didn’t watch carefully enough all those years ago … or maybe I am less meticulous? My wife still says to this day that I am very good at BIY … botch it yourself!
Tweet: Being curious means you are willing to play with ideas, risk failure, remain upbeat and bounce back with even more enthusiasm!
Beyond fixing things, Dad nurtured my passion for reading and for finding out about stuff. We shared a great passion for history and heritage. He was an amazing raconteur and always at ease with people in whatever settings. He nurtured my desire to learn and communicate, to share and engage. This has grown over the years and now I too have that insatiable curiosity about life and all that it brings.
Along the way, I have acquired, through many direct personal experiences, a particular passion for people, for leadership and for developing organisations. At times those experiences have been very challenging. Throughout I have used my deep curiosity to help me steer my course. When times have felt particularly difficult, such as in 1997/8 when, as a Head of Service, I was asked to make budget savings of £340k, I used my curiosity to help me discern ‘reality’ from some imagined state of being. Drawing on my curiosity has enabled me to embrace feedback, gain insight, seek clarity, understand others’ ‘reality’ and stay focused on values and purpose.
So when I was approached to write a chapter on Curiosity and Leadership for our new book, Energize Your Leadership, I was delighted. Here was an opportunity to meet one of my life ambitions and share with 15 other co-authors real life stories about how each of us overcame life and leadership’s low energy moments and emerge as the leaders we wanted to be. Our stories are about our commitment to re-ignite the spark of leadership that, all too often, is dimmed by the intensity, ambiguity and pace of modern life and work. I am sure that our stories will encourage and inspire you, simply because these are real stories told by real people about real situations.
So, whatever your role and position in life – student, corporate executive, working mother, lone entrepreneur or someone just looking for some encouragement, support or motivation – I encourage you to check out our new book – Energize Your Leadership: Discover, Ignite, Break Through. The book is divided into four parts: “Energize Yourself,” “Energize Others”, “Energize Your Workplace” and “Energize Your Future.” Each chapter’s content stands on its own, so the book can be read in any order. All chapters follow the same framework: the author’s personal narrative, the lessons learned from the story, a few key questions for the reader to ponder, and finally some action steps based on the theme of each chapter.
Tweet: Recognize that curiosity requires courage – to take risks, to be better as a person and leader, and to cultivate a bigger ‘world view’.
I wish you well with your life’s journey and, should you buy our book, I believe you will not regret your decision to make that investment in your personal and professional growth and development.
If you wish to develop your curiosity, enhance your executive role, or become the leader you want to be, and inspire and motivate others around you, please connect with me. I believe in the power of conversation … and am always happy to listen and ready to serve.