‘Curiosity killed the cat,’ we often say, using the phrase as a cautionary tale. But isn’t it more accurate to say, ‘Curiosity gave the cat nine lives’? Our need to understand, explore, and ask questions is intrinsic to our nature.
A Tale of a Toddler’s Curiosity
Children, from the moment they are born, display an innate curiosity, a thirst for knowledge born of the countless mysteries surrounding them. It’s like watching a miniaturized research scientist at work. Let me share with you an incident with my elder son K, who, at 13 months old, tossed our expensive TV remote from the 14th floor of a building in Singapore. The remote was shattered into multiple fragments which I presented back to him. K was seriously intrigued by the remnants of the remote. He had yet to learn about gravity or force equals mass times acceleration; yet, he was visibly enchanted by the outcome of his little experiment. Instead of reacting angrily, I allowed his curiosity to flourish.
The Joy and Pursuit of Curiosity
Children experiment with curiosity, pushing boundaries to understand how the world around them works. As adults, we often dampen this spirit of curiosity inadvertently, imposing restrictions and consequences.
But what happens when we encourage curiosity, in children and ourselves?
Learning With Curiosity
As adults, we must regain and nurture our inherent curiosity. Here are five ways to invigorate your curiosity daily:
- Ask open-ended questions: Encourage dialogue and challenge your assumptions by asking questions that require more than a yes or no.
- Read widely and often: Tap into the wealth of knowledge available in books, articles, blogs, and podcasts.
- Embrace uncertainty: Understand that not knowing the answer can lead to many interesting paths.
- Plan exploration days: Pick a day and spend it exploring a topic, place, or idea that intrigues you.
- Stay teachable: Recognize the limits of your knowledge and remain open to learning.
Building Curiosity in Organizational Settings
Moreover, it’s crucial that we foster curiosity in our workplaces. As managers, we need to stop:
- Discouraging inquisitiveness: Treat all questions as legitimate and treat curiosity as a valuable trait rather than a distraction.
- Limiting learning opportunities: Encourage continued learning by providing resources and time for employees to explore their interests.
- Rewarding only results: Recognize the process and the learning, not just the final outcome.
Discover how liberating it can be to embody the spirit of curiosity. Remember, it’s not about knowing all the answers, but the thrill of the pursuit. The next time you hear the phrase, ‘Curiosity killed the cat,’ remember my story about the TV remote, and think to yourself, “but curiosity gave the cat nine lives.”Rajesh Soundararajan
What are your thoughts? Is curiosity innate or is it is inculcated?