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pi DNA: Engagement & Entrepreneurship

It’s the final countdown! Well, at least for our blogs about our pi DNA. We’ve had lots of fun writing these and we have plenty of ideas to follow up on this series. So with the necessary grandeur, we are pleased to present you with our final core value: engagement and entrepreneurship

Curiosity killed the cat

Engaging with something is a choice. You choose to do it, or you choose not to do it. For whatever reason. Queue the question: “Yes, but how do I engage with something if I don’t know what it is?” Well, the answer might surprise you: you choose to. For us, the more interesting questions are:

  • “What made you engage?”
  • “What kept you from engaging?”
  • “What would you have needed to engage?”

These questions are where the gold is. Let’s go through some of the most frequent answers to these questions.

What is it that keeps people from engaging? Fear and insecurity about the unknown on one hand, and just plainly not wanting to engage, through lack of interest amongst others, on the other hand. Let’s dive a bit deeper:

  • For the former, the explanation is easy: there’s no place like our comfort zone. Everything it is safe holds no surprises, is perfect as it should be where nothing should ever change. Sounds like a great, albeit somewhat dull place, agreed? Stepping outside of our comfort zone, to engage, to learn, or discover something new is the challenging part. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Let us clarify by making it very concrete, very visual: “When do you feel more alive, enthusiastic, energetic, and excited?” Is it when you’re sitting on the sofa watching a movie for the third time, a bag of crisps within hand’s reach, or is it when you’re out discovering something new, something you haven’t done before? Exactly.
  • For the latter: how do you lack interest if you don’t know the topic that you supposedly lack interest in? Did someone say comfort zone? Now read the previous paragraph again. Another reason might be a trust issue within the company. Where does a lack of trust stems from? Yup, fear, and the feeling of insecurity. Tackling this is essential, as it is not something you want to allow to grow and fester in your company. Read our previous blogs about the pi DNA to get more insights and ideas on how to approach something like this.

What do people need to engage in? Most frequent answer: a sense of security and certainty. We, as people, love control. Just look at how we are trying to control the spread of Covid-19 and how we try to predict its behavior. And yet, be it through the nonchalance of some people, through chance encounters, through “smart” interpretation of the rules (maybe to get some feeling of control over the situation back?) or any other reason, here we are, in wave 2. Where does control live? In your comfort zone, where everything is still as nice and cozy as it always was. When we control something, we transport it to the comfort zone, as then it holds no more surprises and contains nothing new anymore. So let’s move out to where it’s exciting: the great unknown!

So what is it that makes people engage? The most common answer is simply: curiosity. Curiosity means asking questions, discovering new things. To quote Walt Disney: “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” And when are we curious? When we are faced with something we don’t know, as in outside of your comfort zone. So get out there and engage!

…but satisfaction brought it back

Above is the lesser-known continuation of the proverb about deceased inquisitive cats. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: life starts at the end of your comfort zone. How can you expect to learn, experience, or discover something new when you stay in your safe space? Where is the growth?

Imagine a toddler, crawling on all fours. He sees mom and dad (or mom and mom, or dad and dad) walking through the room. Something new to try! The first attempt: up he goes, and not a second later, down he goes. Repeat this for the next nine attempts. Frustration rises, accompanied by the necessary noise pollution on not being able to control the situation. On attempt eleven he manages to keep standing for a few seconds. Success! And so it continues, step by step. Now imagine that same toddler running around the room, laughing. Can you feel his energy and his enthusiasm? That’s what stepping outside of your comfort zone is: attempting something new and celebrating when you’ve done it.

How do you implement this in a company? By letting employees contribute, by letting them ask those questions, by letting them discover new things. In short, by encouraging them to contribute to a place of trust and, maybe even more importantly: having the company as a whole step out of its comfort zone. Allow a consultant to switch departments, launch a survey on the feelings in and about the company, promote creativity by asking employees to assist with making up fancy and flashy names for new projects. Or by simply letting them write blogs about the core values of the company.

That’s exactly what we aim for at pi: cultivating a culture of curiosity. Capisce? #constantly improving

Blog by Kenneth Poupaert & Simon Verstraeten

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