Do you remember how excited you used to feel as a youngster when you discovered something new?
One of the magical things about being a parent for me is that it has allowed me to see the world with fresh eyes – through the curious eyes of my children – to appreciate the beauty and brilliance in things that I now take for granted. Like the beauty of a rainbow, the miracle of nature when animals give birth, or the wonder of snow falling from the sky.
As adults, for most of us it has been a while since we experienced the sheer joy we felt as children when learning something new. Sadly, as we grow older, the pressures of passing exams at school and meeting targets and deadlines at work tends to stamp out our natural curiosity.
But as more and more of us face burn out or disillusionment in our roles, striving to rediscover our younger, playful selves who delighted in learning new things purely out of interest, may serve us well.
When was the last time you read a book just to find out what it was about? Or that you tried a new hobby or visited somewhere or something new….just because?
The same applies at work – if we keep doing things in the same way, without ever thinking outside the box, how can we expect to get a different result?
When you first start a new job, you often feel awkward being the newbie, like you’ve so much to learn about the company, what they do and how they do it. When in fact, you have a very powerful asset – the power of objectivity. The value of bringing fresh eyes is often undervalued, when in fact we should embrace it and use it to question what we do, how we do it and whether there are other things we could try.
Four tips for cultivating curiosity at work and in life are:
- Don’t be afraid to try new things and to take risks – whilst it can feel uncomfortable, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to try or learn new things is how we move forwards and develop our skills. After all we learn from our mistakes and mistakes often lead us to find the right answers.
If you don’t like public speaking you could try to speak up more at your next team meeting. Or if networking fills you with dread, make sure to attend the next networking event rather than making your usual excuses. You never know what will come out of the new connections you make.
2. Take a flexible, open-minded approach – be flexible and curious in your thinking so that you allow yourself to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
This is all about stepping out of your comfort zone, you attend a seminar that’s on a topic that you wouldn’t normally be interested in, or instead of switching off when someone talks about a topic that you deem boring, you listen keenly with interest for connections to things that do light your fire.
3. Be adventurous – try something new every so often, whether it’s a new book, a sport or hobby you’d never normally consider or a new cook book or flavour of coffee. Trying new things keeps life interesting and exciting and avoids the mundane and boring.
Remember adventures can be physical, like going on a solo holiday, or mental, like, engrossing yourself in a documentary.
4. Ask questions – rather than simply accepting the status quo, don’t be afraid to ask questions and to dig a little deeper. Children are fantastic at doing this, ‘why is the grass green?’, ‘why is the sky blue?’, ‘why do I have to go to school?’ they ask, all good questions that we stop asking in adulthood.
Further resources to support you in cultivating your curiosity are:
PRACTICAL TIPS: Creativity Top Tips (2 minute read)
PODCAST: Needed, A New Way to See – Explore five approaches for increasing the level of innovation in your organization. (4 mins)
PODCAST: Making the Invisible Visible – Learn to recognize barriers to innovation. (4 mins)
PODCAST: Creating an Environment for Innovation – Use these three principles to figure out where innovation is headed in your organisation. (3 mins)
BOOK: Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on it, Ian Leslie