Curiosity killed the cat, they say…but only after it had used up its nine lives. Being inquisitive and interested in people, things, and events is an admirable characteristic, both because it increases your own learning and also because it’s infectious. If you display curiosity, those around you will be more curious than they would otherwise have been.
An open, enquiring mind is a pre-requisite for continuous learning and development. The alternative, a closed mind, is a recipe for stagnation and for the rate of change to exceed the rate of learning.
If you’re not already the sort of person who displays curiosity, it’s possible for you to learn to become so. How easy or difficult this will be depends on your starting point. If you feel curious, interested, and inquisitive…but don’t exhibit those behaviours, it’s comparatively easy to adopt behaviors that will demonstrate your curiosity. You could, for example, embrace a commitment to talk to people about what interests them, ask lots of questions, and demonstrate how interested you are in them. By feeling interested you’re already halfway there and these behaviors should be quite easy to adopt.
If you don’t feel interested, it’s quite possible to feign interest. Most people will discover that if they pretend to be interested then they start to feel interested (fake it till you make it). Your outward, exhibited behavior will affect your inner feelings…rather than the other way round.
Curiosity provides the springboard for learning and development. Curious, inquisitive people tend to:
- ask lots of questions
- think out loud
- play devil’s advocate
- dig and delve to find out more
- formulate and reformulate “theories”
- have lots of ideas
- challenge conventional thinking
This is an admirable list. The downside is that people who are curious will often flit, butterfly-like, from one interest to another and not sustain their enthusiasm for any one thing. As a result they fail to see things through to a conclusion. They are good starters, but poor finishers. If this describes you, even just sometimes, you can correct this tendency by working to maintain your interest, continually checking to ensure that your people are completing the things they’ve started.
Consistent curiosity is vital…the lifeblood of continuous improvement. All learning and development emanates from an insatiable curiosity.