Most children are insatiably curious about their world. When they start talking and sticking their fingers into everything they can, they ask streams of questions about everything and anything. As a child my youngest brother was fished out of every river and harbour in the south of the UK. He liked to personally experience things …. The other brother left a trail of disembowelled and reconstructed alarm clocks and other mechanical items in his wake. He too liked to get in there and find out “what”, “how” and “why”.
Apparently, children average one question every two minutes of their waking lives. It tends to frustrate adults, which is a shame. Some of the questions children come out with are astonishing. I especially like the one from the little boy who asked why, if flies fly the right way up, they land upside down.
We should try to preserve that enormous curiosity. Having a healthy and lively curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits. People who are curious tend to have active rather than passive minds. They ask questions and search for answers. They notice and are stimulated by new ideas. Life is far more exciting when you’re curious!
Research suggests that curious people are happier, better problem solvers, build better relationships and are more empathetic. Being curious has so many benefits but it’s often discouraged during our childhood. (“Children should be seen but not heard”). Einstein said rather tartly: "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."
Writing in the Harvard Business Review in 2015 Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic said curiosity is as important as intelligence. He believes that people with a higher curiosity quotient are more inquisitive and open to new experiences … they tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist. They have nuanced thinking and they’re good at producing simple solutions for complex problems.
Curiosity helps leaders to develop and build great teams. They create opportunities and ways of breaking away from limited thinking. Intellectually curious leaders actively engage are risk-takers, entrepreneurial, courageous but not foolish. They experiment, testing the boundaries of possibilities without fear of failure. Curious people keep asking questions to achieve their goals. They like a full and open debate and welcome ideas. They are great people to have on your team.
How can you develop intellectual curiosity?
- Open your mind to new ideas.
- Be interested in everything.
- Don’t take anything for granted.
- Listen carefully and focus on what’s being said.
- Ask questions about everything.
- Be willing to ask questions that might seem stupid.
- Don’t label something as boring. Be interested in everything.
- See mistakes as learning and learning as something fun.
- Read widely to inspire, inform and develop your mind.
And develop it in your team by:
- Valuing and rewarding curiosity.
- Teaching team members how to ask quality questions.
- Noticing when people feel puzzled or confused.
- Encouraging team members to try different approaches.
- Spreading the curiosity around.
- Using current events to generate questions and discussions.
- Teaching team members to question and analyse a situation.
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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.
Copyright © 2019 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.
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