Relearning Curiosity

black and white image of baby face in wonder

“Children have neither past nor future. They enjoy the present, which very few of us do.

– Jean De La Bruyere

To a baby, the whole world is new and untapped. Every experience is a first. Every moment is filled with wonder and discovery. As the capacity to use more and more of their natural senses develops, so does the baby’s ability to express their curiosity. Babies become toddlers and toddlers explore everything!

If we were instinctually curious as our younger selves, what changed as we matured and why is the loss of an inquisitive nature so detrimental?

Can we get reacquainted with our curious self?

It Used to be Natural

Have you ever listened in on a group of young school children on a field trip to the zoo? It is a rapid-fire question festival. What is that? Why is it that color? Do they see me? What do they eat? Can I pet it? How come they swim in circles? Will it talk to me? And on, and on, and on.

Where has all that wonder gone?

A Forbes Article called “Curiosity: Why It Matters, Why We Lose It And How To Get It Back,” summed it up this way “…as we grow, we shift from curious learning to knowing and, as an adult, we can reach a learning plateau. We feel good to get to a point of understanding and knowledge but begin to lose our curiosity. We find it easier to live as the expert who knows than the student who grows.”

This change might be okay if the world were a static place. However, we are in a constantly changing environment and since the explosion of the internet back in the 1980s it is all but impossible to “live as the expert.” To grow with our surroundings we need to fire up our curiosity. To keep our skills relevant and participate fully we should embrace the pursuit of continuous learning. We have to keep questioning.

Now think about yourself at that zoo I mentioned earlier. Do you stop to really observe the amazing creatures in front of you? Do you read the information on the plaque by the exhibit and want to learn more? Have you just sat quietly nearby and watched for a while to see how the animal uses its habitat? Can you find that inner child who wants to know more?

Bystanders vs Participants

“The secret of success is an absolute ungovernable curiosity.”

– Larry King

How did we move from being dreamers and inventors to merely following others? Perhaps you have noticed a word (and occupation) that has crept into our collective experience; that word is ‘Influencer.’

An influencer, in the most basic terms, is described as one who exerts influence (over purchases, actions, opinions, etc.). They are revered by some in society, yet their purpose seems to be fairly one-sided — an “I know what’s right and you should do as I do” mentality.

A whole industry of Influencer Marketing grew from the 2010s through to the current day. However, the power of the influencer has stalled out a bit in recent years as people found them to be non-authentic and having ulterior motives.

This is not to say all influencers are bad people. However, we have to be careful when and how we follow and when and how we lead. When we allow others to influence us, we accept being controlled from the outside. By surrendering our curious nature we also give up our power and our right to choose. We become bystanders in our own lives.

What advantages can curiosity deliver?

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Among the many practices for greater success presented in my book 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena, asking questions is one that rises to the top. Curiosity, whether it is natural or you cultivate until it becomes a habit, is a game-changer in how we interact with the world.

It is obvious from the news stories of the day that people could use a refresher on how to gain a greater understanding of one another. The “I know better than you,” or worse, the “I am always right” culture of today permeates our politics, our workplace, our homes, and our religious beliefs. When we get stuck in this mindset we lose the ability to communicate and learn from each other. Growth stalls out. The space for new ideas is closed off and stagnates.

Enter curiosity!

An article titled, “11 Top Traits And Characteristics Of A Naturally Curious Person,” describes it this way: “Curious people feel compelled to find answers, understand more profound meanings, and learn as much as possible about people and the world around them.”

Let others tell their story

“My favorite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.”

– Mario Testino

There have been times in my life when I was solely focused on myself and couldn’t see beyond my own thoughts, needs, and fears. That’s okay. We all need personal time to reflect and heal. Lack of communication and connection occurs when we wallow in our own self-importance. It can be something as simple as thinking we have the only answer to a problem. We have effectively shut the door to new ideas.

The danger grows as that self-focus takes over and creates a lack of communication and connection. Have you ever met up with a family member or colleague and, after your conversation has ended, you realize that you only talked about yourself and you know nothing new about them? (Or vice-versa.)

That is a lost opportunity. A conversation should be two-sided. Marriages have failed due to lack of communication or ineffective communication. Employees have quit their jobs when they have felt unheard and unappreciated. We all should be able to tell our story AND we all should listen to and respect others’ stories.

Positive Curiosity Practices

“Our world is drowning in a sea of self-centeredness. You can make yourself unique right away by leaving this ocean of selfishness and choosing to be curious about other people.”

– John Bytheway

In then1970s, the tabloid newspaper The National Enquirer had the slogan “Enquiring Minds Want to Know.” It caught people’s attention and garnered a strong following at the time. However, the truth was all in the spelling – ‘enquire’ means simply, to ask, while ‘inquire’ is the word used for formal or official investigations. Over time we may have become simple enquirers, satisfied with just asking but not really digging any deeper.

How do we get back to our inquiring roots? Here are some behaviors to help your curiosity flourish:

  • Listen without judgment
  • Allow yourself to be wrong
  • Admit you do not ‘know everything’
  • Be present
  • Keep your mind open
  • Welcome surprise
  • Ask and ask more
  • Be a lifelong student

Using Curiosity in the Workplace

“Pay attention to those employees who respectfully ask why. They are demonstrating an interest in their jobs and exhibiting a curiosity that could eventually translate into leadership ability.”

– Harvey Mackay

One important way to keep curiosity flowing as a leader in the workplace is to recognize possibilities. If a colleague or co-worker shows interest in expanding their skills or being part of developing something new, it is worthwhile to consider both their past performance AND their future potential. Ask them what draws them to this new venture. In inviting them to be part of new opportunities you may discover a wealth of talent you did not know existed.

Here are more ways to enhance the work environment and improve employee/employer connection:

  • Be open to new ideas. Find ways to pause and explore new ideas brought before you, even if you aren’t the biggest fan at first.
  • Ask better questions. Put away some of the standard job interview questions and replace them with deeper dive inquiries into what motivates the candidate.
  • Share your story. People will open up more about themselves if they see that you are also willing to be vulnerable and transparent.
  • Don’t go on the offensive. When a team member questions an action or a decision, have patience and give them some perspective on the issue. Hear their concerns.
  • Find out what motivates them. People are inspired in different ways. Access to continuing education, recognition among their peers, special time off, the ability to earn a bonus are all ways you can show appreciation. Try to match the reward to the person and their particular language of receiving.

A curious mind has many advantages, such as being able to move on from the past and learn from disappointments. Relearning and utilizing your innate curiosity may come at some risk but a lack of curiosity actually brings greater risk. Without a curious nature, you isolate yourself and stifle growth. You cling to the known and do not commit to anything new.

Let’s start today relearning how to be curious
. Pick a topic or a person you don’t know much about. Maybe it is a colleague at work or a subject you find interesting but haven’t pursued. Make a short list of questions to ask or research to conduct and see where it takes you.

Here are a few phrases to get you started:

“I wonder if …?”
“What if we …?”
“How can I …?

JuliGeskepeer, #RelearningCuriousity, #2022success, #successinanyarena, #successfulleaders, #beauthentic, #empathy, #getcurious, #thewholeperson, #Nightbirde #juligeskepeerauthor, #appreciateothers, #emotionalintelligence


A Book for the Curious Leader in YOU!

Are you curious to learn how engaging all the senses that can provide support for your journey to success? Please take a moment to explore my book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena. I am very proud to share these approaches and truly achievable practices that were born out of my own life and career experiences and strategic research. Each of us has it within us to achieve success and create healthier relationships within ourselves and with others

Follow this link for more information.

Juli Geske Peer is a leadership, relationship, and accountability strategist whose professional credentials include two academic degrees, mediator training, train-the-trainer certification, two coaching certifications, numerous other learning and certification accomplishments, and now, author!

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