Curiosity killed the cat.
But what about the part that people often forget – that satisfaction brought it back? Well, guess what we find satisfying – indulging our curiosity!
Why did Orpheus look back into the underworld? Why did Lot’s wife look back at Sodom? Ok, so we’re not saying that if you’re curious, you’re going to lose your wife to Hades. Or that you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.
Curiosity is both a behavior and an emotion. It’s present, in varying degrees, in all of us. It’s something we have as children but that fades as we grow up. It’s also something that scientists don’t know how to quantify.
Curiosity is the need for cognition. When facing a puzzle, a curious mind wants to take the scenic route. Not a shortcut. It enjoys complexity and thinking. So why is curiosity important? Below, we’ve outlined five reasons why you should embrace curiosity in your personal and professional life.
1. Mental Health
We characterize depression as a lack of interest in one’s environment and feelings. A lack of curiosity in the world that surrounds us.
Social media has clipped social interaction. There’s less room for evolution, nuance, and curiosity in our conversations. Think of your mind as a muscle, and try to show interest in the world around you.
Curiosity doesn’t just have to be something long lost. Howard Yu believes you can actively stimulate curiosity.
2. Seeing Opportunity
If we display curiosity, we get not only better emotional but also better “spatial” awareness. Stop missing those opportunities when they pass by. Start being curious about those that do pop up.
3. Creative Solutions
Don’t you want to be able to adapt to uncertain market conditions and pressures? In the much-quoted words of Wayne Gretzky…
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
This idea works in the same way for curiosity. You’ll never get the answers to questions you don’t even ask. A curious mind is like an athlete: It’s always active and on its toes, ready for the next challenge – and its solution.
4. Fewer Decision-Making Errors
When our curiosity is triggered, we are less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias. This is when we look for information that supports our view rather than evidence that we are wrong.
Curiosity is great because it leads us to generate alternatives.
5. Better Social Relationships
It’s no secret that the quality of your relationships informs the quality of your life. Find meaning for yourself by being more willing to interact and learn.
Work across teams and functions, skill-share, and take time to reflect and stimulate your curiosity. Then, you can start reaping the benefits.
We now know that curiosity is not just about how things are done. It’s about why they are done that way. Children have no problem with this – “but why though?”
It’s hard to be successful if you aren’t curious about your employees or your competitors. You need to be curious about the market and how to do things better.
Howard Yu is the LEGO Professor of Management and Innovation as well as the director of IMD's signature program, Advanced Management Program (AMP). He is the author of the award-winning book LEAP: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied.
His work has been featured by CNBC, BBC, Fast Company Magazine, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Quartz at Work, MarketWatch, and numerous international outlets. Check out his latest thinking at https://www.howardyu.org/blog.
Try, and fail, and try again – fall down seven times and get back up eight. Take things apart and put them back together again. If you do, curiosity might just help you personally and professionally.