Curiosity Killed The Cat

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We said this in a previous blog but curiosity has nearly killed Rich’s cat. He seemed to have a death wish last Christmas as he kept chewing the wire on the Christmas lights! You’ll be glad to know all ended well and no cats were harmed during the writing of this or any other blog. Curiosity however has been an important recurring theme for us in our careers.

Recent research has shown that curiosity is an important trait for leaders and managers to develop. Success in the workplace requires more than just the following;

  • Luck! – some say you make this yourself.
  • A strong work ethic – certainly personal responsibility and commitment help
  • A supportive network of family, friends and acquaintances – no man is an island!
  • A thirst for learning and advancement – we engage with things that energize us
  • Challenge – a sense of achievement can be very motivational

You can make a case for all of the above as vital ingredients but for us there is something else which, if you tap into it, can bring insights beyond those you might think possible – CURIOSITY – an eager wish to know or learn about something – characterized by “I wonder why” and “what if……..”

Listening to Professor Brian Cox talking on the radio today about the wonders of the universe reminded us that as boys, we often pondered such questions such as “How did the universe start?” and “Why do human beings exist?”. These questions remain often debated and for some, unanswered. That said, our curious and inquisitive minds have been a valuable tool over the years since pondering those questions in our formative days.

In our last blog, we introduced the concept of business wisdom and how we can nurture it. We firmly believe that being curious is a core part of what helps us become wise.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM OUR CHILDREN

At Zentano, we have considered what we have learned from observing our children.

Dave’s children, Meghan (age 5) and Milly (age 3) are sisters who play together a lot. Whether it be building with Lego, being creative with Play-Doh or the endless hours of role-play (taking turns at being mums, dads, teachers, princesses and superheroes) they tap in to that innate desire to explore new ideas, discover new horizons and wonder about what might be possible. They have no script to follow and asking WHY is a reasonable use of their time.

Rich’s children, Aidan (age 18) and his sister Tasha (age 21) are millennials who have mastered the internet. They are used to asking thousands of anonymous strangers for help. They search creatively to build knowledge and are open-minded to where their searches take them. Asking the internet WHY seems more of an adult thing to do than asking their parents, because asking parents feels psychologically like a backwards step on the road to maturity. That said they have still retained that vital element in learning – CURIOSITY!

So, let’s be curious for a minute – why is it that as we get older we seemingly lose our innate drive to explore! We would love to know what you think…..

NOT AFRAID TO FAIL

There are many examples of people who value curiosity over failure, believing that failing is just another opportunity to learn something new – Benjamin Franklin and Walt Disney, Hans Christian Anderson and J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, James Dyson and Deborah Meaden to name a few.

Fear of failure, of being thought of as daft, of being rejected by others or of feeling insecure can drive very unhelpful stories in our heads and these in turn will trigger habits and behaviours that are counter-productive.

HOW TO KILL CURIOSITY

There are many easy ways to do this. For example, make assumptions about what you think you know and search out answers to back up your view. Put lots of rules and barriers in place. Listen for what you want to hear rather than to what is being said. Focus on finding answers rather than asking questions. Think in black and white and reject shades of grey. Reject learning that is based on play and more informal approaches, after all we don’t go to work to have fun, do we? I could go on…

CURIOSITY – WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

There are many benefits of curiosity and here are just a few;

HOW DO I BECOME MORE CURIOUS?

If you feel you are one of the many people who, unlike Meghan, Milly, Aidan and Tasha, have lost some of that innate drive to explore and discover, all is not lost. Here are some tips to help you tap into the world of curiosity;

Tip 1 – Start with things that fascinate and energize you. Get motivated to learn and see where this takes you

Tip 2 – Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone – What have you always fancied having a go at?

Tip 3 – Ask more questions – Plenty of WHY and WHAT IF questions are good for starters

Tip 4 – Reflect on what you learn – process the new information to find things you didn’t know or hadn’t realized you knew.

Tip 5 – Don’t just use Google – People are a rich resource of ideas and information. What knowledge do they have that they are prepared to share?

Tip 6 – Look up and out as well as in and down – It’s so easy on that boring journey to bury our heads in our smartphone but what are you missing when doing that? Our reality of the world is what we carry in our heads but when do we properly observe what is going on around us?

We stated earlier that business wisdom relies on us being curious and Zentano have used this as an underlying principle of our High-Performance Thinking programme, details of which, if you are curious, can be found on our website. Alternatively, please get in touch by email or phone if you want more information.

Back to that famous proverb “Curiosity killed the cat” which warns of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. The original form of the proverb, now little used, was “Care killed the cat”. where “care” was defined as “worry” or “sorrow.” So, here’s our parting question to you;

“We are curious, why would you let worry or sorrow get in your way of being happy and fulfilled?”

Dave and Rich