A sense of curiosity: soft skill of the future
How a sense of curiosity enhances life
Whether it is intrinsic or intentional, a sense of curiosity is a fantastic skill to have. It will enhance both your career and your personal life. And the best bit is, you can develop it. It is not something you are simply born with.
One of the under valued soft skills that contributes to career success is a sense of curiosity. Not only that, it is an age neutral attribute. It can work in every age demographic, from entry-level to seniors, which is always an added bonus. A sense of curiosity can be understood as:
"A state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something."
Cultivating and exercising our sense of curiosity underpins other key career drivers. It opens up our willingness to embrace new experiences, unknown situations and varied environments. Plus it lays the foundations for discovery, whether that is new information, people or experiences. A sense of curiosity may produce a positive outcome or one that is less exciting. At its heart, it is about a willingness to take risks with a possibility that the result may not be beneficial, but knowing that the learning process alone will add value.
Continuous and intuitive learning
A sense of curiosity can be nurtured and honed. When properly exercised it can expand not only our minds but increase our opportunities. At its core it's about the excitement of wanting to know more and appreciating the value of an enquiring mind. Being curious opens up many new avenues, not only for personal development for its own sake, but the endless possibilities that new experiences and learnings can support us in our career.
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We have all seen young children experiment. There is a high correlation between novelty seeking and cognitive ability. Highly curious toddlers went on to have strong academic skills and reading ability as they got older, according to research from the journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2002). Other studies have shown that high levels of curiosity in adults are connected to greater analytic ability, problem-solving skills and overall intelligence.
A sense of curiosity tends to make people open to new connections and relationships. They are interested in finding out about other people and are attentive listeners. These people tend to develop conversations to learn as much about the other person as possible, meaning quite frequently they are highly connected with strong friendship groups. They find commonalities in diversity.
Hard skills and information
With a developed sense of curiosity we become willing to learn new skills, to adapt to emerging trends and absorb new information. This allows us to cope more confidently with ambiguity and uncertainty. It can be the older woman who takes an online social media course, an executive who is open to reverse mentoring or the entry level staffer who hones their networking skills to overcome their nerves. This means letting go of any expectations, judgements or biases. It's easy to avoid an activity, a person or an experience because we think we might find it frightening or boring. These are people who possibly don't even feel the fear, but avoid alternative ideas anyway. They are the same people who will feel comfortable saying that a specific course of action or experimental activity is not for them.
Two categories of curious people
People with an evolved sense of curiosity tend to fall into two categories:
These are individuals who love to learn and are curious for the added intrinsic value of learning something new for their personal development. They may not have any intention of doing anything with it. Novelty is something they enjoy experiencing so they develop a capacity to be curious for its own sake. Intrinsically curious people may be widely read, highly educated and willing to have a go at many different things, but it's not necessarily done with any specific goals in mind. They will watch a podcast, read an article, travel to a different country, try exotic foods or see a new play. Yet they are unlikely to make a podcast themselves or become bloggers or chefs. However when the time is right, they will be able to get their heads around it if required. They are quite often connectors and curators, a go-to person who you would ask "Do you know....?"
Developing an intentional sense of curiosity is part of a wider learning plan. These individuals hate routine and repetition. They make a point of seeking out new opportunities and challenges to increase their interest and see what new doors that exercise might open. They network with intent. If someone suggests a meeting, they will generally free up time to explore possibilities. Even if it doesn't meet expectations, they will find a benefit somewhere. They tend to be optimists. These will be the go-to people in an organisation for a new project. They adapt easily, are flexible, and don't fear failure or looking a bit dumb just because something doesn't go to plan.
Whatever your style of curiosity, your sense of personal fulfilment will be greater. If you are not naturally curious, you can build and develop your curiosity within your every day life. Look at your routine through a different lens. If you normally eat lunch in the cafeteria - go for a walk. Talk to someone in the sub way - not in a stalker-ish or creepy way. When you ask someone how their day is going, wait for them to respond. If you have ever wondered about an app on your phone check it out. Say yes to your boss for some new tech training. Try new foods. Visit a new city. Play a new sport. Listen to a different style of music.
Little by little you can increase your sense of curiosity. When the time is right you can decide if you want to make it intentional.
If you feel like you are lacking inspiration and direction for your career, you probably need some guidance. 3Plus can help you with our Career Coaching for Women.
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