‘Curiosity is more important than knowledge’ Albert Einstein
Written by Victoria Danaher
Childhood Curiosity – Alive and Kicking!
All of us begin life with the aptitude for curiosity, and as children it is an essential learning tool to help us to make sense of everything around us. The childhood wonder and yearning we have for information about the world around us allows us to systematically, efficiently and enjoyably acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviours we need for adult life.
Adulthood Curiosity – Buried and Flatlining!
Unfortunately, there comes a time – usually coinciding with the end of our formal education – when our day-to-day curiosity begins to wane. This can mean that as adults we ignore one of the best tools we have for learning and innovation.
Studies have shown that curiosity is a key component in academic performance , but what about in the corporate world? A study conducted by Kashdan, Rose and Fincham  linked increased curiosity with greater proactive innovation, as well as suggesting wider influence on “skill and knowledge acquisition, the development of interests, goal perseverance, and various positive subjective experiences”.
These impacts are positive both at a personal level and also something that corporations can benefit from in their performance, governance and advancement.
So how can we exercise our own curiosity more at work? Here are a few things to try:
- Ask questions, and encourage those around you to do the same. At the extreme, the most effective version of this is children asking ‘why?’ to everything! They can drill down to the heart of a topic within a few minutes. Fostering a more supportive environment where people are not worried about appearing ignorant by asking ‘silly questions’ will gradually create a more enquiring atmosphere. You may also be surprised at what you learn.
- Discover the organisation you are part of. Take time to meet people in other teams or departments and ask them about their role in the organisation. Seek out subject matter experts and make time for you and others to share in this knowledge. You will be surprised at how beneficial a broader awareness of your organisation can be to increased efficiency, communication and problem solving.
- Communicate with others with the intent to understand, not just to respond. Once you begin to listen closely to others, without being focused solely on your own reply, you will give yourself the freedom to absorb more, interpret better, and connect more effectively.
- Focus on what you are ultimately trying to achieve, not just on the process: challenge established models through curiosity. Having the freedom to adapt and improve the way you work towards your goals can lead to innovation and performance improvement.
- If you manage others, set the tone for them to follow. Curiosity in leaders encourages and liberates others to unleash their own curiosity.
All of these techniques, and others, can help you to develop and engage one of the most powerful psychological tools you have. You may be surprised at how much this can empower and energise you, your colleagues and your organisation.
We are curious to hear about your experiences/thoughts on this subject? Leave a comment or drop us a line