As kids, we start out being curious. Why do we stop?
Early on we learn that curiosity is not such a good thing… Well-meaning adults telling us things like ‘curiosity killed the cat’. We begin to believe that if we ask too many questions we are signaling that we don’t know the answers, that we need help. We worry we might look stupid – not as smart as everyone else.
There’s an underlying message that curiosity is dangerous – something to avoid.
Enough already – it’s time to reclaim curiosity.
On a visit to my parent’s farm on the school holidays, I was reminded of how curious cows are, so when you really want to see curiosity in action, forget cats. Go to the country and watch a cow.
We learn more. A mindset of curiosity creates openness. It allows exploration and drives both great questions, and great answers. When we are curious, we are interested, and when we are interested we learn more.
We feel more confident. Curiosity helps us get past our fears of having the wrong answers, or perhaps even worse, having no answers at all!
We build relationships. When we judge people, they feel it. They may not be sure how or why they feel uncomfortable; they will sense that there is some sort of barrier between you. Curiosity is the antidote for judgement. When we show curiosity, we show we care.
Leaders at all levels of the organisation need curiosity. Each week, AG Lafley*, chairman and CEO of Proctor and Gamble asks himself ‘What am I going to be curious about?’ He does this to remind himself that the strategic insight needed from a CEO requires deep curiosity.
Leaders who Ask are curious. What will you be curious about today?
Go fearlessly (and curiously)
* Gregersen, Hal (2017 March-April). Bursting the CEO Bubble: Why executives should talk less and ask more questions. Harvard Business Review, p83