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Why Curiosity Is One of the Best Catalysts for Success

The Harvard Business Review claims that curiosity is having a “Gold Rush” moment, and it’s not the first time that Harvard researchers have made a business case for curiosity or suggested that “curious people are destined for the C-suite.” They believe that curious employees are more innovative, engaged, and productive, which is precisely why they vouch for curiosity training in the workplace.

Training your team on curiosity could be critical. While 83 percent of C-suite professionals believe they encourage curiosity, just about half (52 percent) agree and are, therefore, less likely to offer up those innovative ideas or produce the quality of which they’re capable.

Recently, Ivy Exec caught up with Dr. Diane Hamilton, the founder and CEO of Tonerra, a consulting and media-based business, about her groundbreaking research on curiosity.

Hamilton’s research breaks down the four factors that hold people back from getting curious: fear, assumptions, technology, and environment (FATE). In the recent webinar, she opened up about how organizations have leveraged curiosity to be successful, as well as strategies and action plans for overcoming FATE factors.

After all, curiosity is key to your (and your team’s) success—and here’s why. 

5 Reasons Why Curiosity is the Best Catalyst for Success

Curiosity primes people for learning.

According to a 2014 study published in Neuron, people are better at learning new information about which they’re curious. It’s simple science: “People find it easier to learn about topics that interest them,” the researchers report. This adds up in the workplace, too. There is research dating back decades purporting that curiosity is positively tied to job performance. The more curious employees are, the better they do their jobs. 

Curiosity improves your memory.

The same aforementioned study, as well as another one published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, notes curiosity enhances memory. If someone is curious while absorbing new materials, they’re more likely to retain that information than if they weren’t so curious while taking it all in. It makes sense, after all. When they’re curious, they’re dialed into whatever it is that they’re doing—and focus fuels the memory.

Curiosity begets empathy and effort.

Harvard researchers go so far as to say that empathy starts with curiosity. After all, decades-old research purports that curiosity is a precursor for emotional intelligence. When people are curious about other people, or a project on which they’re working, they ask more questions and engage more. These are critical to the health of a company culture that thrives on collaboration. 

Curiosity is linked to purpose, which is linked to productivity.

Because jobs are among the top three most-mentioned purposeful parts of life, according to the Pew Research Center, getting curious about work is hugely impactful. That’s because those who are more curious find more meaning or search more for meaning (ultimately feeling more satisfied) than those who are not curious. And we already know that the feeling of purpose boosts productivity in the workplace.

Curiosity inspires persistence.

Curiosity encourages you to ask questions and ask for help. It keeps you from quitting, pushing you to persist in the pursuit of your goal or that of your team—and find joy in that persistence, according to studies. But you don’t just keep on keepin’ on. According to Harvard researchers, “When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more creative solutions.” 

3 Ways to Get More Curious

One surefire way to encourage curiosity on your team is by starting with yourself. Here’s how to get more curious in your own career and then lead by example.

Ask more questions, and dig deeper.

The first step to becoming more curious is asking questions. Peel back the layers on a problem you’re looking to solve or play devil’s advocate on a solution you’ve already proposed. The idea is to constantly ask questions of others and yourself, well understanding that the more you learn, the more you learn just how much there is to learn. 

Don’t be afraid to admit if you need help.

The reality is that, at some point, we all need to ask for a helping hand. Asking for help is too often tied to shame, but there’s no shame in admitting that you need assistance in order to do more or produce better-quality work. The chances are that someone has a stronger skill set than you in some area (as you do them), and you can learn from them. Asking for help opens up opportunities to discover and grow, feeding your curiosity.

Let go of the worries warning you to stop where you are.

If you struggle with imposter syndrome, you’re not alone. You might feel like you’re not cut out for a certain job or that, at some point, someone will expose you as a fraud in your field. But those are your fears holding you back, crushing your curiosity about what’s possible and, ultimately, preventing you from what’s possible. If you need some help getting over the symptoms of paralyzing imposter syndrome, we’re here for you at Ivy Exec—follow these tips to nip imposter syndrome in the bud


Curious about curiosity? Check out the webinar with Dr. Hamilton to learn more tips on cultivating curiosity in your career—and see greater success because of it.


 

About the Author

AnnaMarie Houlis is a nomadic journalist, an audacious activist and an adventure aficionado. She covers everything from equity and inclusion in the workplace and career development to health, women’s empowerment and travel. You can read her work on her portfolio, AnnaMarieHoulis.com.