One of my newest contacts who I already call a friend, Rich Cooper (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rich-cooper-4b7b124/), commented on a very interesting post about curiosity recently on LinkedIn as follows:
I have always been curious, it is something innately within me to question, to learn, to understand, but I have never until today, before Rich’s post share, actually looked up a dictionary definition of what Curiosity means.
The world, from what I can see, hear & indeed within many of my discussions, including during some of my Value through Vulnerability podcasts https://anchor.fm/value-through-vulnerability curiosity really does appear to be the golden chalice of our time, but why?
Let’s look at each of the above 3 part this curiosity definition:
1. the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness
How frequently do you seek to learn new things?
When did you last challenge a way of working or another person, constructively?
How comfortable are you asking for clarification if you do not understand?
How often do you ask why?
There is much talk that we are at a transition point from the outdated, industrial revolution ways of working (bums on seats, fixed job specs, no employee voice etc) and here is a key reason why, I feel, that curiosity is suddenly in such high demand.
Currently, but even more so in the future, our ability to be distinctly human of which curiosity is a distinctly human trait for me, will be more important than ever as any jobs that can be digitalised will be and that should be a great thing for everyone, especially if universal basic income becomes a regular way of life.
Please look out for my new podcast with Scott Santens @scottsantens, UBI advocate, which was a huge learning curve for me last week.
2. a curious, rare, or novel thing
By this definition curiosity can be seen as a rare or novel thing.
Today in many work organisations that I am made aware of or know personally, the answer to my 4 above questions are regularly “sometimes, no, no & no.”
Out of date organisational structures & indeed their leadership, still pushes, too often for me, fear-based, command and control ways of working which shuts down the ability to be curious i.e psychological safety to speak up and be curious is actually frowned upon, even if the core value of “challenge the stays quo” is emblazoned all over the wall (I have a very real example of this hypocrisy)
This situation is still not that uncommon and one that needs to be recognised & worked on if we are going to tap into the other 67% of our people (Gallup & others for decades have spoken about max 1 in 3 people being fully engaged in their work), people that we are already paying for monthly and who want to contribute:
3. a strange, curious, or interesting quality
Curiosity is indeed strange & interesting because the power of asking why, of challenging current ways of working & deepening the learning curve of ourselves and our organisations, can only be good things to do, but they take time & they take a genuine desire to listen (at an individual, team & organisational level)
Our frenetic workplaces & their associated workflows are running at 100mph+, but to what end?
How often do we stop – literally stop, get present & reflect on whether or not our current ways of working are a) helpful b) meaningful & c) adding value?
When did you last review your self-care practices to ensure that you were getting enough time away from your screen, eating well, exercising, not working all weekend etc ?
When did you last discuss the above with a colleague, line manager or someone personally close to you?
I have a personal mantra which is “invest time upfront, for long-term gain.” Everyone has only their own reality – literally – so it is up to us how we flow & manage that reality in the moment.
Taking time to stop, to be present, to reflect is an art that I have only started to manage well over the past 6 months. Yes that means I have spent decades on the hamster wheel of doing what others say, getting frustrated, living in fear etc
Being curious & present, I believe, is a golden combination that has the opportunity to tap into the other 67% of our workforce’s potential that ironically is already being paid for, but due them not feeling safe to be curious, we continue to talk about how good it would be if we were all more curious.
The 21st Century skills that all students need
I share this World Economic Forum report from March 2016 a lot, because I feel it is so important.
In their 2016 report the WEF stated that Curiosity was a key 21st century skill that all students need, which is a great thing.
We just need to ensure, as individuals, leaders & organisations, that we create the safety, the space, the time and the ear to allow these students to add the maximum value through their curiosity when they finally enter the workplace.
A reflection for us all to consider.