According to Walter Isaacson, biographer and author of Leonardo da Vinci, an important takeaway from the genius painter is that “being curious about everything not only makes you more creative, it enriches your life.” Turns out the artist who painted the Mona Lisa (and is often credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank) also listed “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker” in a journal of things he wanted to know more about.
The quality of curiosity is gaining momentum as a powerful and crucial asset. In fact, Zander Lurie, CEO of SurveyMonkey, recently wrote, “This singular trait, curiosity, will determine which firms will thrive and which ones will stumble.”
Curious leaders uncover employees’ strengths and curious salespeople ask richer, more thoughtful questions of their clients. Curious administrators proactively seek out vital information to better manage their supervisor’s schedule.
Furthermore, scientific findings support an actual change in our brain chemistry when we are curious, helping us learn and retain information more readily. Inquisitive new employees reportedly adjust more easily to their positions, contribute to innovation, even think of better ways to do their job.
Given the vitalness—now more than ever—of being curious, how can you leverage this trait? Some of us are naturally more curious than others, but if you sense you’re deficient in this area, stimulating your curiosity levels will benefit both you and your workplace. And it might even be FUN!
- No “Stupid” Questions – First and foremost, don’t shame yourself out of being curious. We often fear looking foolish or unintelligent by asking questions. Try to confront those feelings of vulnerability so you can move past them. Whenever I’ve asked an honest question in a group setting, I’m invariably approached later by someone who tells me how relieved they were I asked, because they were confused about the same thing!
- Dabble Outside your Box – If you’re definitely the uncurious sort, break out of the same ol’ same ol’ by reading something each day, or each week, about a topic completely outside your normal realm…like da Vinci’s woodpecker tongue, for example! Calendar this to keep yourself on track. Once you start opening up your thought-life even a little, the new data fuels wondering and further inquiry.
- Connect with a Question – Whether professionally or personally, being interested in others is basic to building relating skills, making you a more effective leader, worker, and friend. Set a goal to learn one new thing each week about someone you see regularly, outside your home. You’ll be amazed what you find out about people you “thought” you knew!
Being inquisitive seems to be the asset of the future, taking its place as a priceless human commodity in our technology-driven world. As you find ways to maximize yours, take comfort in these recent words of Bill Gates: “This is a phenomenal time to be a curious person.”