Curiosity killed the Cat, not the ‘Cat-titude’!
Observe a cat. It really doesn’t seem to matter how many times you repel him from trying something. At that moment, with his eyes glued to the object of his desire, nothing in this world is more desirable than that. He is intrigued that it is everything he ever wanted as is evident from his face which is nine parts curiosity, one part serious indignation. After having tasted what it feels like, he suddenly hates it, makes a face and runs.
Much of this behavior is reflected in humans. A curious mind looks for new information and enjoys discovering new things. It is human tendency to have that inquisitive detective who studies the evidence, makes conjectures and gathers information about the quality of the product that is being tested.
Curiosity is that force within a hungry mind that unveils learners’ interests encouraging valuable questions and tinkering, looking for learning moments, and building modules around current events and critical thinking.
In the context of learning and development it becomes all the more essential to nurture this unique trait - Some of the highly successful learners, be it business leaders or sales professionals seem to have certain characteristics that reflect their inquisitive nature.
By giving us potential early warning of changes and disruption which are yet to come, habitual curiosity is a starting point for our own development and learning. With the world’s knowledge now only a few clicks away for those who crave it, the curious get a head start when it comes to their own learning. With people following multiple career paths in a lifetime, this is the key to the important skill of reinventing oneself and staying marketable.
Curiosity serves a strong leadership purpose too. Asking “how can we do XYZ better?” is no good without first asking, “Why are we doing XYZ in the first place?” While being results driven is important, asking the questions—the right questions—ensures you’re on the right track.
At Learngage, my research about how learners learn, unlearn and their specific learning traits to accomplish tasks have led me to list down a few of them here:-
1. Curious Learners are Natural Learners
People with a high CQ (Curiosity Quotient) have a natural drive for seeking new knowledge through conversation and other means. They are more likely to learn something out of a situation than someone who avoids their ignorance altogether.
2. They take initiative
Naturally, inquisitive people take the time to question and explore new things because they invest more time into their intellect. This means they dedicate time to find answers to questions out of pure will and not because they feel pressured to do so. This desire to be constantly learning would be particularly valued in a startup environment where employees are often required to juggle multiple roles in the company.
3. Curiosity thrives on Innovation.
People with a high CQ thrive on learning new things and would be able to pick up a new software or technology with ease. In the words of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, “You have to say, ‘Wait a second. Why are we doing it this way? Could it be better? Could it be different?’ That kind of curiosity, that explorer’s mind, that childlike wonder, that’s what makes an inventor.”
4. Curiosity helps in Problem solving
Curious Learners are more tolerant of ambiguity; so terms like “uncertain” or “unknown” does not frighten them. Moreover, they are constantly questioning, which makes them key players in innovation. Ultimately they are the ones questioning current practices and finding ways to instigate change.
5. Curious people don’t label something as boring
Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.
Curiosity might kill the cat, but nevertheless it will cultivate the cat-titude of having an exploratory mindset thereby increasing learning. There are limits, of course, and that is the difference between a dead cat in an old adage, and real people.
But there is something deeply promising about better appreciating the power of curiosity and the promise of genuine satisfaction derived from learning and development, even if we don’t love what we discover when we do.