Remember “Curious George?” The little monkey that followed the man with the yellow hat around and got into all sorts of mischief?
Even though George found himself in trouble throughout his adventures, the resolve was always good. He somehow managed to save the day or help someone in need and make a positive impact on other people, all because he gave in to his own curiosity. Don’t just dismiss this as just another kid’s story. There’s some real truth here we can learn from.
I think curiosity gets a bad rap sometimes. We’ve grown up with the stigma that being curious only leads to trouble and that it’s just childish naivety, but I think there are a lot more benefits to being curious than what we’ve been conditioned to believe.
Curiosity can be especially effective for leaders as they are trying to build a business and grow a happy, healthy team.
Curiosity strengthens relationships
Think about the last time you had a conversation with somebody? What happened when they started talking about something going on in their life that you had genuine interest or concern about? You probed and went deeper. You started asking more questions to get more context so you could really help them.
When we’re curious about other people’s well-being and circumstances, we develop trust and strengthen the rapport with one another. It helps both parties feel comfortable sharing more and fosters a greater sense of intimacy.
Curiosity also helps us learn how to read people better. People who are generally more curious are able to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues to determine how to navigate the conversation and turn it into something more fulfilling and positive.
Curiosity strengthens our brain
I remember when I had to mentally prepare myself for a game. It was a time for me to become completely focused on how I was going to beat my opponent. I had to have a level of curiosity to want to know more about them, to study their moves, and strategize how I would compete against them to be better prepared.
Curiosity wakes up that active part of our brain and keeps us from being passive. I once heard somebody say, curiosity and discovery never age. It’s so true! Curiosity opens up our mind to be more receptive to learning new things and gives us the ability to connect new things to our past experiences so we can grow.
Curiosity boosts creativity
Remember how energetic and creative we were as kids? You were full of endless questions and a desire to want to know everything. Then we grow up…Somewhere along the way we start to lose that boundless curiosity. We start to conform instead of asking questions because we’re afraid of looking stupid. Uncertainty creeps into our lives and makes us vulnerable.
What would happen if we rekindled that spirit of curiosity to be creative again? What if we choose to be bold enough to push a few boundaries and feel more confident about putting ourselves out there? Curiosity can help us to investigate and explore, rather than ignore.
Curiosity overcomes anxiety
There are so many times (especially with everything going on right now) that we feel anxious and stressed.
I read that our curiosity and our threat detection system run in parallel with each other. We want to feel safe and avoid danger, but we also have this insatiable desire to want to grow and experience the unknown. Anxiety wants us to retreat, curiosity wants us to lean in.
So instead of feeling anxious, maybe we can use curiosity as a superpower to combat those feelings and figure out our “why” instead? “Why” are we feeling this way and what can we do to turn those negative feelings around and find what will ultimately make us more fulfilled?
My amazing wife Achea suffered from an anxiety disorder and described it as when your brain is constantly conspiring against you, telling you that a tiger is chasing after you when it’s really just life. After breaking free from this disorder, she’s using her experience to help other women break free and feel empowered.
She is a true testament to discovering how to not let anxiety and fear overcome her life, but to dig deep, be curious about identifying what was holding her back, change it, and in the process, she’s helped so many other women find fulfillment. Yep, that’s my wife!
Curiosity builds empathy
There’s a term I came across called, “empathetic curiosity” that I thought was interesting. This is when you genuinely try to put yourself in the shoes and mind of the person you’re talking to, to see things from their perspective.
How many times have you been in a situation where you got annoyed with someone only to find out that your perception of the situation was completely wrong? Curiosity can help you pause, take a breath, and try to see things from a different angle before you jump to any conclusions or potentially damage any relationship.
Talk to people. Be curious to learn about their past experiences and the lessons they’re learned so that can help you grow and be more empathetic.
Curiosity helps us survive
I picture a scene in a movie where a group of people are dropped in a jungle and they have to find their way out using only their instincts. There’s always that central character that steps up as the leader and surveys the situation to determine what should be the group’s next move.
When it comes down to it, our basic primal need is to survive. To survive through the rough patches in life and come out victorious. Curiosity can be a great tool for heightening our awareness and helping us find solutions to problems, especially when the stakes are raised.
Now, what does this all mean for an entrepreneur? Some would argue that having curiosity can be one of the best traits of a leader.
I think leaders that are curious are “seekers.” They seek out a way to experience something different, and they actively look for challenges that will stretch them and push them to do their best work, thereby inspiring other people in their sphere of influence to be at their best.
Leaders who are curious are intuitive. They actively try to trace ideas back to the source to determine how it all began so they can learn and adapt it to fit their situation and find a solution.
Have you ever had a leader taunt you by saying, “prove me wrong?” Most likely your curious nature is going to kick in and your competitive spirit is going to do everything in your power to accept the challenge. Curiosity like this can build camaraderie.
Finally, leaders that are curious have an insatiable hunger that drives them to want more. They want to know what they are capable of accomplishing and won’t rest until they can hit that milestone and move on to the next one.
I don’t think curiosity killed the cat. I think he’s still alive and smarter than ever.
Your future has yet to be written. How you choose to embrace what lies ahead is ultimately up to you. What amazing things are in store?
Aren’t you a little bit curious?
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