Lifelong Learning: 6 Ways to Spark Your CuriosityFeb 09, 2023
Last week I was asked to speak at the Hospitality Industry Trust Talent Conference. What a day it was, filled with learning on so many levels. From a mentalist to a formerly homeless entrepreneur to a sports psychologist - each one evoked a different kind of curiosity.
Yes, curiosity: That mother of all discoveries and inventions, so the saying goes. All the great creative thinkers have been curious — from Aristotle to Shakespeare to Elon Musk and beyond.
Like all the speakers last week, they all have a common denominator: they were and are curious. They challenge convention and question their paradigms, their thoughts, beliefs and values. They never settle, never take traditional thinking as the only answer. They constantly seek ways to forge new paths and embrace change.
I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.
- Albert Einstein
So as I drove home from Glasgow, I thought about how every day provides us with opportunities to learn and grow; to be curious. Life is an adventure and when we adopt a curious and open mindset it’s amazing what we can discover and achieve. I know that my own curiosity has helped me to be more resilient in challenging times!
Curiosity is the catalyst of innovation and achievement. Think about the last time you were really interested in a topic; the chances are, something sparked your curiousity and as a result you learnt faster. In fact, there is an increasing amount of research that suggests that the more you learn, the more you want to learn.
Curious minds are active minds, and active minds become smart minds. So how can we become better learners by being more curious? Here are 5 ways to spark your curiosity as a learner:
1. Ask questions
Get into the habit of asking open questions, you know the drill, the ones that start with why, how, where, what, when, which, who. These types of questions open up opportunities to learn more and avoid shutting down conversations with yes or no answers.
2. Embrace diversity
Surround yourself with people whose viewpoints differ from your own. Get out of your comfort zone, your bubble, and exchange ideas. Think collaboration, it's a great way to gain deeper insights.
3. Listen empathically
Be genuinely interested in - and curious about - what other people have to say. Remind yourself of the old adage - you have two ears and one mouth for a reason! Whilst your talking, you're not learning. Listening empathically means listening without assumption and judgment. It's about fully absorbing all the information.
4. Adopt a growth mindset
A growth mindset and curiosity go hand in hand. When you have a growth mindset, you’re curiously engaged in understanding how the world works, and how people work. You’re coming at situations from a perspective of, “I wonder how that happened? I wonder why that person thought/did that? The ability to learn - or even unlearn - will help you to stay relevant and useful.
5. Be comfortable with not knowing
Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have the answer. When we're coaching senior leaders, this one always comes as a surprise. It would be impossible to know absolutely everything and there will always be something new to learn. It doesn’t mean you have failed or are in someway lacking in skills or capability. Saying ‘I don’t know, but I'll find out’ is a great opportunity to learn something new.
6. Use social media (for the greater good)
Yes, I'm advocating using social media! Find platforms and podcasts that spark your curiosity: if it doesn't inspire you to do, think and act differently, find something else. Fill your playlists with people that inspire you, those that remind you that the possibilities are endless if you just keep learning.
In what ways you are curious? How can you cultivate your own curiosity and encourage an environment of curiosity and exploration in your workplace? Let us know in comments!