“The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids! They ask question and have a sense of wonder. They have curiosity. \’Who, what, where, why, when, and how!\’ They never stop asking questions, and I never stop asking questions, just like a five year old.” Sylvia Earle
Curiosity is a way of looking at the world. We all start life passionately curious. When you watch children playing you are looking into a world of discovery, a world full of curiosity. I lost count of how many questions my children asked as they were growing up. But this passionate curiosity easily fades away. There are some things in which we should stay child-like.
It is curiosity that has led to some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs and amazing innovations. We are by nature creative and curious. We are presented with different circumstances in business whether they are opportunities or challenges. Here’s the thing, if we adopted a posture of curiosity it may lead to a totally different outcome. To be curious is to be eager to learn or know, to be inquisitive. How curious are you?
Information comes at us from all directions. The challenge isn’t how much information is coming at us, it’s being able to sort it in a way which helps us to discern the quality of the information and whether it is useful to us. Curiosity happens within a framework but the question a curious person is asking all the time is what can I learn from this?
The cause, then, is less important than the impact on you. Sometimes things happen. Discerning the cause of these things, in my experience, is more often about assigning blame. That is not to lessen the tragedies that come our way or look for ways to make improvements, but what a waste if we are unable to learn valuable lessons from them.
Change the View
The way we view things determines what we will do with what comes our way. The last year or so has in effect been a detour, a very different path than we imagined as we entered 2020. In car journeys we are often frustrated detours. How long will it take? Will we get back to where we need to be? The interesting thing about detours is that you usually won’t have been this way before. It is entirely new territory. What would it look like if you adopted a posture of curiosity? Yes, it’s not the way you wanted to go but what about the new scenery you will see? What if it is actually ends up being a better way?
“We keep moving forwards, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
On holiday a few years ago in Morocco, I was looking to navigate a short cut between two roads without mobile data. I downloaded the map in the hotel and relied on the dot moving along the road as we drove. This situation was an obstacle for sure, but it wasn’t insurmountable. It was certainly a different route! We saw all sorts of things we wouldn’t have seen had we gone on the highway, including kids going to school on a donkey! We weren’t entirely certain of the route but we reached our destination and experienced things we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Obstacle or Stepping-Stone?
Often, we can see obstacles as just that, obstacles. However, the very fact that something causes us to question how we do things, the way we think about them, may in fact cause a whole different way of thinking. This can lead to new opportunities, a better process an adoption of a different way of thinking that was perhaps needed anyway but has come into sharp focus as essential for your life and leadership moving forward.
If we have the right view road bumps can bring us face to face with things we have been ignoring like personal growth and quality thinking. Recently I have been brought face to face with the reality that I am the cause of my effects. In other words, if I want to change my results I have to change my mind. It’s hard work but it’s absolutely necessary for me to become all I can be. I am curious to see how that works out.
Photo by Eli Allan on Unsplash