When we are curious, we see things differently; we use our powers of observations more fully and use our abilities to bring together disparate ideas in new and useful combinations. Importantly, we particularly want to know the answers to ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what if’?
There is scientific evidence that curiosity in adults is not only connected to greater analytic ability, problem-solving skills and overall intelligence, it has a positive impact on our health and our happiness. Great reasons to keep our curiosity engaged, and yet…
Discussing curiosity with a leadership team this week, highlighted the challenge of remaining curious when deadlines are looming and there are so many competing demands on your time. Often relying on the familiar, on the tried and tested solutions is the easiest and quickest way to move forward.
Pragmatically that may be solution for today but as the team concluded, taking that approach stops you and the business moving forward, issues reoccur and the opportunities to innovate are missed. As Walt Disney said “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leadings us down new paths.”
As leaders, how can curiosity be encouraged?
- Be a role model yourself, identity the long-standing problems in your business and start asking why? And what if?
- Ask questions that inspire curiosity in others “How could we provide a better service and generate better results?”
- Acknowledge curiosity and allow time for ideas to develop.
- Keep learning – have a thirst for knowledge and open your eyes to the interesting gaps in what you don’t know.
- See uncertainty as an opportunity for curiosity
- Above all, stop yourself and others from making the comments “We’ve always done it this that” or “That won’t work here.”
We may not achieve the greatness of Einstein who claimed to have no special talent just a passion for curiosity, however engaging our curiosity can bring valuable and often surprising results.