A deep dive into one of the 8 Critical Capabilities from the book PowerUp8
“The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.” Albert Einstein
Listen to the interview with Debbie
Curiosity is actually a secret super-power
Can you think of any famous inventor, innovator or high achiever that was not curious? No matter who comes to mind when you think of curiosity, maybe Elon Musk, Jack Ma or Jeff Bizos, they all have some common characteristics. They have an underlying curiosity about how things work, what is possible, how to solve a problem or just a drive and desire to try something out of pure inquisitiveness and a sense of adventure. They also have an ability to engage and collaborate with a wide variety of people and ideas to stimulate ideas and options. They apply critical thinking to ask the right questions, as well as a bucket load of courage and creativity. Curiosity is one of those foundation mindsets for many of the other critical capabilities necessary for succeeding in this crazy world of ours.
Curiosity is particularly important in our exponentially changing world which requires high speed innovation, accelerated learning, rapid relationship building and an open and resilient mind to stay ahead, survive and thrive. A mindset of curiosity enables original ideas, unique questions, rapid learning and connecting with people to unleash our own and other’s potential.
What are you curious about? Where are your potential blind spots? How can you learn from curious inventors, artists and entrepreneurs that have shown us what is possible? In which circumstances, or in with which topics are your less curious, or less willing to learn new things?
Did you know that our curiosity declines the longer we’re in a job (or relationship) as we start to run on automatic pilot and assumptions more and more often.
Curiosity requires going beyond the obvious and actively seeking new information and ideas – not just about the world or things but about people, relationships and our own potential. It is about questioning, experimenting and taking risks for accelerated learning and innovation.
How curious are we?
Curiosity is primarily a mindset and an identity driven by underlying beliefs and views about ourselves and the world. We can build skills to enhance our curiosity, and practise these with effort and planning, however the more efficient route to a natural effortless curiosity is to shake up and shift some of the programs we learnt through our role models, experiences or personality styles, as we grew up.
We are seldom either curious or not curious, but rather move up and down a continuum depending on our personal attitudes and life circumstances. We have created some interesting characters to illustrate the two opposites of curiosity so that you can explore which character you can identify with, and where you tend to spend most of your time, or are you somewhere in the middle. You can choose some characteristics you would like to adopt to help you navigate the future.
Curious explorers believe that curiosity helps them grow, and that trying, and failing fast is better than not trying at all and that learning is critical to adapt to change. They generally feel excited, enthusiastic and open to new ideas, topics, people and opportunities. They use language like, “I wonder if …”, “I am curious about ….”, or “Let’s try ….” They have daily habits like reading or viewing, reflecting, questioning, trying something new, practicing and connecting with different people, and to create (new) meaning through those habits.
Safe spectators tend to sit on the side-lines, in the stands or in their easy chairs, taking no risks and commenting about the game from their place of safety. They believe that curiosity is risky, requires too much effort and is unnecessary. After all it’s all been tried before. They generally feel cautious, all knowing or detached. They use language like “I know what I know”, “Curiosity killed the cat”, “Why rock the boat”, or “Why fix it if it isn’t broken”. They have daily habits like being critical, procrastinating and staying safe from the side-lines.
Where are you on this continuum. What are your strengths? Where do you spend more of your time? How would you like to show up more often?
Daily hacks and habits for curiosity
There are many hacks and habits to build your curiosity muscle. We will focus on just a few here. There are many more ideas and resources in the book PowerUp8 if you wish to explore more.
Habit #1: Quick questions
Build your repertoire of quick questions to ask before taking action:
- How else could we do this?
- Who else could add a perspective or input?
- What can we learn from past projects or people?
- What assumptions or biases do I need to challenge?
Habit #2: Fail fast
Get used to small experiments, getting it only half right or terribly wrong. Use every opportunity to get feedback and input and see it as progress and try it again differently next time. You could learn to do public speaking, or practice speaking a new language. Speak up at a meeting, write a blog. Make a decision and take a step in uncertainty or ambiguity. Engage your audience in your experiment. Learn to laugh at yourself and see all outcome as learning opportunities.
Habit #3: Listen beyond the obvious
Engage in conversation with diverse people. Strike up conversations in the lift, at a coffee bar, over lunch, in waiting areas, and with people in service roles. When travelling, stay with local people. Get yourself invited to ideation or feedback meetings of another team or department. Check assumptions and biases of your natural filters. Get into dialogue with young people. Avoid the temptation to pre-judge a situation or imagine being rejected or being perceived as over-friendly. Give others the opportunity to say no thanks, instead of wondering if!
Have a look at one of our many resources to build your curiosity
- The Curious Person’s Guide to Learning Anything | Stephen Robinson | TEDxUAlberta
- Jack Ma – Jack Ma’s Ultimate Advice for Students & Young People – HOW TO SUCCEED IN LIFE
- Take our free Resilience Potential Survey to see how you are doing on each of the 8 critical capabilities of which curiosity is just one.
ABOUT DEBBIE CRAIG
Internationally-recognised people strategist, Debbie Craig is the founder and MD of Catalyst Consulting. For the past 20 years, she has been transforming organisations, teams and individuals locally and internationally in over 5 continents and 15 countries. Debbie holds a B.Com, PDM, and MBA and is a registered Master HR Professional through the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) and an international NeuroChange consultant. Debbie is the author of several best-selling books: “I am Talent”, “I am Alive” and “Accelerated Learning”. She has written numerous published articles and regularly presents at local and international conferences.
Whilst technology may be threatening to replace many repetitive or replicable human activities, there is still a critical need for thinking and skills that will enable innovation, customer engagement, responsiveness, adaptability, cross-boundary teamwork, virtual teams and personal health, success and fulfillment.
In PowerUp8Debbie Craig reveals why the world needs more people who are:
- Intensely curious (about themselves, others and the world),
- Originally creative (experimenting, learning and willing to fail),
- Courageously committed (to their vision for self, team or cause),
- Consciously choosing (where to focus attention and how to show up),
- Critical thinkers (who can resolve dilemmas and make meaning out of noise),
- Trust building collaborators (that combine perspectives and strengths into lasting relationships and value),
- Change influencers (that navigate the maze of change for positive impact) and,
- Generous contributors (that build lasting healthy communities).
PowerUp8 offers readers a guide to rapidly build the most important beliefs and habits required for success in the next decade – using the latest brain and behavioural science of learning and change. These 8 capabilities have been carefully chosen from a unique combination of research and practical experience in developing organisations, leaders and learners over the last 20+ years.
What they say about this book
“I wholeheartedly recommend that you buy this book and use it to build a more powerful you to take on our exciting future!” — Mark Cotterrell, Chairman and CEO: MAC Consulting
“PowerUp8 provides tools and guidance to set yourself up for success in the years to come. A great gift to leaders who want to leave a great legacy and positive impact on the people around them.” — Kurt Droeshout, COO: Ismaeel Abudawood Trading Company, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
“Debbie does a great job of setting the context and exploring the tools to navigate it in a practical and adaptive manner. This book has shifted my thinking and I value when shift happens!” — Themba Chakela, Principal Head, Human Resources: Dimension Data MEA