The skill of curiosity in these challenging times is one of the most important yet often overlooked skills right now. It has got lost amongst the myriad of posts on how to keep calm, focused, productive, and 100 ways to pivot a business or take it online. Curiosity is so important because it creates wonder and inquisitiveness. Furthermore, it takes the mind to new places, unexplored territory and opens the door to novel ideas and possibilities. Moreover, these are the gold nuggets of success and how to thrive.
The definition of Curiosity is:
‘A strong desire to know or learn something. To be inquisitive and to wonder.’
So why is Curiosity so important?
Behind curiosity lies a key driver which is the desire for new information and experiences. And to explore new possibilities. Interestingly, Harvard University has conducted research in businesses to gauge the effect of curiosity in the workplace. Furthermore, it appears there are many benefits to being curious, an important one being a mindset for success or growth mindset.
First and foremost, curiosity increases perseverance, or what I call, GRIT. One test showed when people take time to describe a day when they were feeling curious, their mental and physical energy increased by more than 20%, compared to simply recalling a time of profound happiness. I was always curious to answer the question, “Why don’t we do the things we know are good for us?”
Curiosity increases dopamine which increases motivation to learn
Other findings highlight how a curious mind increases creativity, trust and collaboration. Moreover, it negates confirmation bias and helps us see past our rigid beliefs and judgment tendency. Furthermore, curiosity increases the release of dopamine resulting in an increase in motivation to learn. And that in itself is a key reason to be curious.
The pursuit of understanding and knowing why in this context is helpful. Normally, when looking back at an event that didn’t turn out as planned, the question ‘why’ can keep people trapped in the problem. However, in a work context, when a ‘curious’ frame is added and the question, ‘what can we learn from this?’ is asked creativity increases. This is because our minds are drawn towards a different perspective.
Individually, curiosity is important because firstly, the energy of the mind is attention. Furthermore, where you place your attention, energy flows and expands. So, rather than focusing on the problem, when viewing it through a lens of curiosity, the energy shifts from the problem to a solution. Moreover, when you use precise questions, a skill in itself, you lead your mind into new territory. And this is the exact place where new discoveries are made and rigid thinking has no place. Your brain is doing what it loves most. Focusing on things, solving puzzles and achieving goals.
Here are three ways to use the “art of questions” in your day
1. Develop a habit of reviewing your day. Self-reflection is super helpful for learning and growing. It helps you see things from a new perspective. However, a key point is to do it with kindness as well as curiosity. You are better equipped to view it objectively as an observer rather than being attached emotionally to the experience. Being kind hinders self- judging and stops you ruminating on what you didn’t do, forgot to do, or messed up. Questions asked with a clear intent and objective yield incredible results and a great habit to develop in the quest for excellence. Curiosity rules!
2. Just as you review your day, review your week, month, quarter and year. I have a set of questions that I use and share with my clients. These are a brilliant way of gaining new insights, learning and finding new ways to do things differently. Furthermore, it helps focus on incremental improvements. Creating a habit of carefully reviewing my day is for me, a keystone habit in my business.
3. After an event, especially successful and unsuccessful ones, it is helpful to reflect and find the lessons.
In this instance, the reason here is that it is a powerful lens to identify your patterns. Where have you done this before? How often and with what result? What were you thinking and feeling just before the event? Taking the learnings and putting them to good use is the key.
Focus on identifying where you weren’t prepared or slipped up
For unsuccessful outcomes, you may be able to identify where you weren’t prepared enough, rushed or lacking knowledge or detail. Or, perhaps Monday mornings aren’t the best time for that important meeting? When it comes to looking at positive results, perhaps you can identify what helped create the results. How was your mood? How prepared were you? What had happened in the days leading up to the event that might have left traces of success?
One analogy I use is with athletes. Athletes are focused on optimising their performance and continually improving. They are open to feedback, train consistently, drill down on specific areas and have a coach to guide and support them. Athletes know how to develop a Mindset for Success. Furthermore, they know the importance of perseverance, consistency and practice. Intentional practice helps lock in their skills to their subconscious mind, so they become natural and almost automatic. Curiosity and a desire to excel helps them keep committed.
How curiosity helped Team Sky win the Tour de France
An excellent example of this at play is with the UK cycle team, Team Sky, and the phenomenal success they had, under the guidance of David Brailsford. His level of curiosity extended to looking in minute detail at every area within the team. He scrutinised sleep patterns, diets, stretching, rest and exercise regimes to bike components. Furthermore, he created the term ‘aggregate of marginal gains.’ This would not have been possible without a vast lens of curiosity, a desire to improve and a champion mindset. Moreover, Team Sky won the Tour de France for the first time for the UK and went on to replicate this and win numerous other championships that season.
So the questions for you are these:
- ‘Where would it be helpful to look through “the lens of curiosity” rather than worrying or doubting?’
- ‘What would change in my life if I did?’
Being a person who loves the art of curiosity, I would love to know!
About the Author
Mandy Napier i s a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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