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What inspires you? What lights you up? What are you curious to learn? What always seems to capture your attention?
What do you think about most-often in the shower or on long runs? What are you a big nerd about? What topic do you keep coming back to, from every possible angle?
That thing? That is your Inclination. Your deeply-rooted interest. And it is the fourth pillar of your unique Genius.*
The Inclination concept comes from Robert Greene's Mastery. He writes that uncovering your inclination as the first step toward becoming a Master, because your curiosity will be the fuel that keeps you invested in any domain long enough to master it. Your interest will keep you making connections that others may never see.
And when you consider your professional development responsibilities, isn't that exactly what leaders are hoping to help create? Masters. Fully-capable, creative, self-sufficient, innovative team members who contribute positively to the corporate mission without too much input from above.
That's the dream.
And just like every other productive and engaging employee attribute, mastery requires Activation.
If you want your team to learn and grow and develop into masters of your universe, you must help align their growth-edge to their deepest curiosity. Otherwise you will just continue to waste resources, and your energy.
How many times have you paid for expensive training - only to have it all forgotten months later, the course binders collecting dust on communal bookshelves? How many books have you distributed? How many outside speakers have you summoned? How much difference did it make? Over the long term?
Not much, right? Totally predictable.
You've hired high-achievers. They know how to play the game. They will sit and listen and pass the exam (if there even is one). They'll take notes and participate in discussion. And if it doesn't markedly improve their outcomes - right then! - or spark a deep-seeded interest, they'll happily return to their cubes and their old ways.
How many times have you done that same thing, yourself? When your leadership sent you off to an expensive professional development course or conference? Why would your team be any different?
The better question is: How can your team be different?
How can you unlock the diversity of thought necessary to create the innovative team of your dreams? How can you help each team member grow into a domain master - in their own right? How can you help develop your team into the self-sufficient, creative, contributing force your organization needs?
By understanding each team member's Inclination and helping them align what drives their curiosity to your corporate vision.
Simple. But maybe not easy.
Because - like a seed - Inclination can become deeply-buried. Covered up by more-practical things. As attention turns to getting good grades, or getting a good job, or climbing the corporate ladder. The things that sparked wonder and enthusiasm in your childhood might be a distant memory, now.
Those are the things you must find within each member of your team.
The childhood curiosities. The things they were scolded to put aside to make time for homework. The books they loved to read - when they still had time to choose. The games they loved to play - when their imagination made the rules. Those are they keys to unlocking Inclination.
Critical keys that may not be easy to find.
Inclination is not always attached to a concrete topic. It can be squishy, and hard to define. Or your team members may not have run into that thing that gets their juices flowing, yet. So you have to pay attention.
Who is really loving the new training, or the new topic, or the new project at work? Who is noticeably energized when everyone else is going through the motions? What books or ideas are they digging up on their own time, because they are enthusiastic about the topic? Those observations are a hint. Share them when you see them.
Then work with your team to design growth opportunities around their curiosity. Encourage them to run down personally fulfilling tangents. Help them explicitly tie their curiosity to the things your organization needs to do to grow.
And don't worry if everyone on your team is sharpening a different growth-edge.
That's how you grow-in diversity of thought and experience. That's how you continue to generate creative and innovative solutions within a long-standing team. That's how you maintain the deep trust necessary to take risks - and still overcome the group-think that can creep into overly cohesive cultures.
Encourage your team members to uncover and follow their Inclination, and grow a team full of innovators to masters your universe.
*The Activated Genius Model is based on my experience and extensive research into leadership and organizational performance. The model is defined by four pillars of Genius: Values, Motivation, Strengths and Inclination, activated by a strong foundation: Communicated Vision, Dedicated Leadership, Effective Structure and Process, and Adequate Resources.
Through Tailored Output, I offer individual and organizational coaching programs applying the Activated Genius Method, a scientific approach to maximizing performance. Together we will Access and Engage your (and your team's) Genius to Accelerate your achievement, in service of a better world.
If you'd like actionable insight into how to access and engage your Inclination (and all aspects of your Genius) more-fully in your life, sign up to receive my weekly Rise & Shine! email. It is a solid way to stay up to date on the art and science of human performance, translated into actionable insight for your everyday life. This little bit of Monday Morning sunshine will keep you thinking, growing, and Activating your own Genius, as you start your week.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher
The Desire Map (affiliate link): A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul by Danielle LaPorte
Mastery by Robert Greene