⚡Make Curiosity Your Competitive Edge⚡
EDITION 7 / MAY 2022
Over the past year, I’ve spoken with dozens of business executives and HR leaders from companies big and small, across a range of industries, and asked each of them this question:
What is the most important skill you look for when hiring young professionals?
Given the pandemic and remote working, you might expect their responses to be things like resilience, adaptability or communication. And you would be partially correct.
However, the answer cited most frequently was something else. Curiosity! Are you surprised?!
Frankly, I was delighted by the responses because curiosity is a skill that everyone can cultivate. It’s not reserved for those with an Ivy League education or a privileged upbringing. It simply requires awareness, commitment and practice.
I learned this years ago as an undergrad when I applied to be an Industrial Design major and was intimidated because I had no portfolio and minimal “hand skills”, requisites for most design programs. Yet, the discipline of design thinking taught me that curiosity is integral to defining the correct problem before launching into solutions. Curiosity fuels good design. Indeed, the best designers are often the most curious.
Beyond curious designers, every company can benefit from curious employees: more innovation, better collaboration, better working relationships, and better project outcomes.
If you’re seeking a new job, a promotion or a stretch assignment, it’s time to cultivate your curiosity and make it your competitive edge.
🎧 Listen more. Speak less.
😕 Admit to not knowing.
🙋 Ask powerful questions.
🧘🏿♀️ Let your mind and body wander.
✍️ Take notes.
🧐 Diversify your interests.
📰 Diversify your news sources.
👭 Make friends with people unlike you.
👶 Spend time with a toddler.
🌟 Learn a new skill at work.
Take time to feed your curiosity daily. Check out curious.com to get your daily 🧠 workout.
A Stanford professor and Mindset Works co-founder Carol Dweck, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation and mindsets. Her work focuses on why people succeed, and how it is possible to foster their success through cultivating a curious mindset.
In Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she tells us that success comes from having the right mindset rather than intelligence, talent or education.
What’s your mindset? 🧐
Curiosity is often referred to as a key ingredient of a growth mindset. Yet, mindsets often vacillate between fixed, growth and somewhere in between. It’s an ongoing journey, therefore, to be aware of your mindset and continually nurture your curiosity.
After you take this Mindset Assessment, you will receive personalized feedback to fuel your growth mindset. Take the quiz >
Our Members continue to share issues they are struggling with and we’ll highlight one or more in each newsletter.
Your awareness about becoming defensive is a great first step so bravo for recognizing that! 👏
Try this next time: Begin debrief sessions by reminding everyone of the project goal and the value of being curious about what actually happened… Always start with the positive. What went well? Be specific…and celebrate it!.
Then identify what didn’t go well. A missed deadline, budget overrun, quality control issues. Every project has things that went well and didn’t go well. Don’t sweat it. It’s all part of the process of working, innovating and growing. Interestingly, learning from mistakes is often the most valuable part of a project.
Let’s get into more specifics about how to do this. Approach conversations with curiosity by asking questions that begin with “what” and “how”.
“Why” questions tend to put others on the defensive. “What” and “how” questions are more spacious and invite people into a dialogue.
Here are a few examples:
Powerful questions generally have these qualities:
- not aggressive
- proceeded by an observation
Practice powerful questions in your next project debrief and and notice how this simple technique can shift the group dynamic and conversation.
Most people have heard of the hit Apple TV+ series, Ted Lasso in which an American football coach is exported to the U.K. to manage a British football team. In a moving segment, Ted shared a poignant leadership lesson highlighting the power of curiosity. With Ted’s bits of wisdom, who is better to inspire your next instagram caption?
Questions are at the core of how we listen, behave, think, and relate–as individuals and organizations. Marilee G. Adams is the founder of The Inquiry Institute and authored Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. In this book, Adams shows us how to choose the questions that can lead them to success, both personally and professionally.
Tim Ferris is a fountain of curiosity and insight. Ferris built a career by constantly learning something new and pushing himself in unexpected ways. Tune into his #1 business podcast, The Tim Ferris Show and explore his blog to get access to the world’s top thinkers.
Equipt Women Founding Members participated in our 10-week program focused on topics such as strengths, values, feedback, and more. In our first session, we introduced the importance of curiosity as a vital skill to cultivate for career advancement.
Here what Jordan Horch, Equipt Women FM and Program Director at WillowTree, had to say after completing the program:
As Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Be passionately curious ✨,
Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer