Fostering Curiosity / By Dave Dicken
At GA Telesis we live by the five “W”s and one “H”; who, what, when, where, why, and how. It all starts when we were children and there was nothing more natural than challenging our parents with these questions. In many cases, these questions would be met with impatience and frustration. As kids, how many conversations did we have, that started with “But why?” and ended with “Because I said so.” or, “Curiosity killed the cat.”? The result is that we now live in a world where “facts” are all too easily accepted to be true, and questions essential to our own development are not being asked. If human beings had accepted as fact, that we could not fly, the industry of aviation as a whole would not exist today. All the progress made in science and engineering that allowed us to fly was driven by individuals who asked what, why and how, even when they were told that it was impossible. Orville Wright once said, “If we all work under the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.” At GA Telesis, we are fortunate to have a great blend of youth and experience. Those of us with experience were not born into this industry with all the knowledge required to be successful. Almost any of us will credit our success to patient and encouraging mentors. These mentors not only shared their knowledge of aircraft, aircraft systems, and aviation lingo but shared their passion for aviation.
Early in my career, like any child exploring the world, I had many how’s, why’s and what’s when it came to the world of aviation. Instead of meeting my questions with impatience and frustration, my mentors answered my questions patiently. They encouraged intelligent conversations guiding me in what other questions to ask, and highlighting points of interest. The patience shown to me by my mentors in those early days is what caused me to have a successful 20-year career in aviation. Had my mentors chalked up my questions to a lack of intelligence and lost their patience with me, how different would my life have been? In the fast-paced environment that we find ourselves today, it is easy to dismiss the questions of more novice teammates. It is even easier to give them the “short and sweet answer” with little to no guidance. But how are they to learn and grow? When we face these questions with frustration, we are creating an environment that undervalues the curiosity and creativity required for us to all succeed. If we continually shut down questions, the less likely they will be asked I ask you to consider, did curiosity truly kill the cat, or did impatience?
At GA Telesis we believe that every question presents an opportunity not only to share our own knowledge but to gain a new perspective. Those of us with extensive careers in the industry, we the “aviation veterans” may be older, and wiser, but in this business, every day provides us with an opportunity to learn something new. We just have to allow ourselves the patience to be curious. So, how do we relight the spark of curiosity in each of our teammates, and our novice staff? First, we must put aside our own expectation of what everyone “must know” or what is “obvious”. It is only then that we will be able to begin our conversations with a clear and open mind, and minimize our own frustration. Next, answer questions, with questions, create a conversation within the team. What may appear to be the simple or obvious answer to us is only “obvious” because of our experience. Help the “rookies” on your team build their foundations and understand your reasoning. Their learning is based on understanding. Finally, provide opportunities for learning and constructive discussion to build interest in the field, and have your teammates feel that they are part of the community. Find out what piques each individuals interest, and help them learn more about these topics. Encourage and foster healthy competition in skills required to succeed in the industry.
GA Telesis drives a culture of success and it is through the success of our novice teammates that we will build an enduring talent legacy. And this is the legacy that will outlive any of our own individual accomplishments.