Curiosity: Why being curious might be the only secret weapon you need in business

[and tips for how to improve your curiosity quotient]

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Most of us live on autopilot. We brush our teeth without thinking about how we are doing it. Drive to the store without realizing which route we took. Check our phone every time it makes a noise. This is often called “Unconscious Thought Theory” where the unconscious mind is capable of performing tasks outside of one’s awareness.

However, we know that true innovation and great leadership comes from asking questions and applying completely new ideas to problems, not by blinding following protocol. How do we get more innovative? By getting curious.

The best news is we can all remember to be curious- Yes remember (not learn) because you were born curious and creative as a child, but you may need to re-connect with that inner-questioning to bring forth new ideas.

Time to observe, learn and explore for more profits

Curiosity and your brain:

George Loewensterin described curiosity, as “a cognitive induced deprivation that arises from the perception of a gap in knowledge and understanding.” Lowenstein’s information gap theory holds that curiosity functions like other drive states, such as hunger, which motivates eating.

Therefore, curiosity is an inherent driver for our existence, not a luxury to ponder on occasion.

Curiosity is also a cognitive function which leads to motivation. In other words if a person is highly curious, they will be more motivated in that area. Additionally, while the brain is engaged in curiosity the hippocampus is stimulated (the area of the brain responsible for memories) so we remember and retain more information that we are interested in.

Additionally, psychologists at the University at Buffalo concluded that the degree to which people are curious actively influences their personal growth opportunities and the level of intimacy that develops when they meet someone new. Concluding that bonds are stronger with people (clients, employees, managers) if a curiosity factor exists.

We were born to be curious, to ask questions, and to seek information.

Not live in a predictable cycle of answers.

Can you measure and improve upon your curiosity?

Psychologists and business professionals have often referred to a person’s Curiosity Profile, and journalist, Thomas Friedman has coined the term “Curiosity Quotient” or CQ. Friedman suggests that when passion and curiosity are paired an individual may be able to outperform someone with a higher IQ.

Regardless of the term, scientists have found that while a person’s IQ can rarely change, a person’s curiosity can improve. In addition to experience and EQ testing businesses are now seeking out team members that are inquisitive and open to new experiences-suggesting a demand for those with a higher CQ.

Ways to raise your Curiosity Profile:

  1. Write out 10 questions for any problem or decision you need to make. Start the sentence with “What if….” Write each sentence with zero judgement or trying to find the answer. Have fun, get creative. Get curious i.e. “What if we delivered our packages via hot air balloon?” The questions can be absurd but it will get your problem-solving mentality revved up and allow your curiosity to find a solution.
  1. Keep a curiosity journal. Each time you think of something, see something, taste something that piques your curiosity write it down. At the end of the week are you noticing any patterns? Try this exercise for a couple of weeks. It will train you to seek out items of interest-You will naturally start asking more questions (improving your curiosity). You may end up with a solution for your business or even a new hobby to pursue.
  1. Go to the library or a bookstore. Go to a section of a library or bookstore you don’t usually browse-pick up a few books, get curious. Stretch your brain to consider new perspectives and different points of view.
  1. Brainstorm with zero judgement, how many ideas can you come up with about one single topic? Start a business meeting with your team brainstorming for 10 minutes. No wrong answers, just getting curious. Some items may be ridiculous but true innovation comes from creativity and curiosity . . . allow your employees to play with ideas.
  1. Buy 3 magazines you have never read before, get curious about the contents, the contributors, the readers. Find anything interesting?

Next time you run into a problem at work, with your team or even at home, get curious, ask questions….you may just find a better solution.

Send me your ideas. What is your favorite way to tap into your curiosity? Did you see an improvement in your business or solve a problem as a result? email me at [email protected] with your stories.

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