Curiosity killed the cat!

But it certainly doesn't kill your career.

For me curiosity is about wanting to know more. Wanting to learn. Wanting to develop. Being fascinated to get to understand something with more depth. To seek out and explore the new and exciting and learn something that is different from your own experience.

It's knowing that the more you know, the less you know. That as much as you learn there is always more you don't know.

I'm not talking about the curiosity of your standard 5 year old. I'm living with one at the moment and it's driving me nuts!

"Aiden please don't drive that train on the wall! Why Mummy?"

"Aiden put your shoes on please! Why Mummy?"

"Mummy? Why does the train go on the train tracks?" Arrrggghhh!!!!

Curiosity is not asking why. Well sometimes it is, but its more about wanting to understand more. Using "why" can create defensiveness. It puts the person in  a place to explain and defend. It can put people on the back foot.  Curiosity is genuine and interested.

Of course retaining some 5 year old curiosity is probably a good thing. It's certainly making me think about how I explain things!

The fantastic Colin Pidd, who I have had the pleasure of working with over a number of years and at a number of companies, uses the term "tell me more about that". It's great. It doesn't create defensiveness and tells people that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. It's not demanding. It's gentle and aimed at understanding - getting to a common understanding and purpose. I try to remember to use as much as possible.

There are times when it's easier to notice a lack of curiosity. The Manager who rings me up to abuse me over a car for his team member - when he hadn't asked the right questions of his employee. The Senior leader who travelled a couple of times to a country to  review business results and on asking, said he hadn't learnt anything new after his first trip. The developing leader who doesn't have conversations widely to gain input and understand different opinions before making decisions.

We have all made these mistakes. Sometimes we felt like complete fools when we haven't asked enough questions or even asked the obvious! Being curious requires an open mindset. It requires you to be OK with who you are and what you do and requires a bit of bravery. It can be tough.

Being curious is also a good trait when receiving feedback

When things are not going well for me and I'm feeling stressed and frustrated, I lose my curiosity. I don't know where it goes but it gets replaced with certainty. There is no flexibility with certainty. No empathy and no ability to learn. Certainty, while a place that can be comfortable and even give a permanent feeling is not a place of openness and creativity. Certainty is not where I want to be.

What about you? When were you last truly curious? When did you put yourself in a place of openess and learning? What could it do for your career?

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Never lose a holy curiosity." Albert Einstein