Your curiosity can be a business superpower. But the last time you were *authentically* curious was probably at age 6.
Here's the problem: As we get older, we get these horrible things called responsibilities: School, homework, activities, college applications, college, jobs, adulting, marriage, kids, retirement planning.
Time to get serioius - no time to be curious!
At age 6, I was digging holes in the backyard because. Just because.
Maybe I thought I could get to the other side of the world. Instead, I found worms and other bugs and got real dirty. But I just kept digging. (Thank goodness for the old days of "unstructured play," when I wasn't on 3 sports teams and over-scheduled with multiple playdates.)
That was authentic curiosity. curiosity for no other reason than being curious. No agenda, no goals, no guardrails. I learned how to have fun without toys, games or equipment. I also accidentally learned how to build a rudimentary aqueduct, courtesy of our garden hose.
But for most of us, as our responsibilities increase, our authentic curiosity gets squeezed out, often down to zero. We don't have time or a compelling reason to be curious.
When we lose curiosity we lose a lot:
We lose the opportunity to learn.
We lose the chance to build empathy.
We lose the ability to gain new skills.
Early in our careers, we execute priorities that have been established from 10 levels above us. We aren't being paid to be curious - to ask questions and bring up other possible solutions.
But here's the truth: Those exhibiting curiosity at work (assuming we're doing our jobs well) can differentiate themselves professionally. They can be known as problem identifiers and problem solvers. A combination of execution and curiosity can make you indispensable and promotable.
But being promoted means more responsibility and less time to be curious. Curiosity can even become scary, because you're now in a cohort that views questioning the status quo as slowing down process and progress on their initiatives - and therefore risky to their careers. "We gotta get sh%t done, we don't have time to question it!"
As someone who has benefitted tremendously from rediscovering and leveraging my professional curiosity, I strongly encourage you to try it.
Start by asking your stakeholders - internal or external users, customers, sponsors - for some "step back" time.
Ask them some disruptive questions that will help you understand their tailwinds: Why they are making the requests they're making.
These conversations will improve transparency. Transparency will foster mutual empathy.
And empathy will help you uncover information and insights to help you be more successful in supporting their priorities and goals.