“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”—Albert Einstein
When business leaders talk about the secrets to having success, curiosity is one of the often-overlooked traits that we need to talk about. We often associate curiosity with children because, at an early age, they learn about and engage with the world with curiosity.
Curiosity impacts learning and is defined by Oxford Languages as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” As we grow older, we believe that we know enough, and some of us stop cultivating our curiosity. But it is an essential trait for success.
At a personal level, curiosity helps us become more self-aware. It helps us look at our beliefs, values, and perceptions about life, and it prompts us to question those beliefs. When we examine our values, thoughts, and beliefs, we are able to step out of our comfort zones, grow and stretch ourselves, and gain new perspectives that can help us thrive.
At work, curiosity plays a huge part in innovation, engagement, and learning. According to studies, when people are interested in a topic, they are more likely to remember pertinent information as well as unrelated facts that may or may not be related to the topic.
The midbrain, the area of our brain that releases dopamine, is activated by curiosity. We know dopamine as a “happy hormone” that improves our mood and helps reduce stress, but recent research has also suggested that it plays a role in forming new neural connections. That’s why we tend to remember people’s names and faces if we have an interesting conversation with them.
In addition to enhancing our experiences and strengthening our patience, curiosity drives us to find solutions on our own. We develop our own formulas rather than looking for ones that have worked for others. It makes us less afraid to fail when we try new things.
It also helps us in the creative problem-solving process. Curious people link ideas better than less curious people, and this iterative process of building on our initial thoughts is crucial to innovation. When we become curious about things, we try to discover something new and push the idea to new boundaries and possibilities.
Curiosity also improves the way we relate to others and the way we feel about work.
When you are genuinely curious about others, whether they are your loved ones, colleagues, or consumers, you discover more about them. You are genuinely engaged in the conversation and dig deeper by asking more questions that you are really interested in knowing the answers to.
From a business perspective, this helps you identify others’ problems better and come up with ideas to help them solve those problems. From a social perspective, it helps you create genuine relationships built on trust and care. And those are traits that attract more people to you as a leader.
Curiosity also helps boost engagement at work, and it is essential for sustaining productivity, boosting morale and satisfaction within the team, improving collaboration, creating a healthy work culture, and staying engaged at work. When we are genuinely curious about our work, we strive to learn new skills and develop new ways of tackling our roles.
We are more invested and committed, not just to our tasks but to creating relationships with our colleagues. When we are open to hearing other people’s opinions, even those that are different from our own because we are genuinely curious about them, we improve relationships, promote diversity of thought, stimulate creativity and productive debates, and create a better environment for innovation and collaboration.
Plus, it helps keep burnout at bay because curiosity helps us see stressful situations as challenges and opportunities for learning new things. (The dopamine boost also probably played a part.)
We become better learners the more we foster curiosity in both our personal and professional lives.
Encourage a culture that allows curiosity to flourish. Give them opportunities to practice autonomy and discover what they are curious about that could help with their work and professional development. Humans are more likely to be interested in projects that they select themselves, and that helps keep us engaged.
But in order to do that, we have to lead by example. Keep an open mind. Ask more and better questions. Read more, and diversify what you read. Have fun with your learning process. Travel. Meet new people and ask them more questions.
Thank you for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”