I get energy from curious people at work. It seems that from my experience, curious people can typically help you get things done in a better way. Curious people ask the question “why?” multiple times until they understand the root cause of something. Curious people respond when you ask them for feedback on what could get better.
But what happens when your workforce seemingly has lost its ability to be curious?
Curious people ignite the flame of critical thinking and problem solving; not-so-curious people can extinguish that flame.
For me, lack of curiosity typically relates to general apathy. In the workplace, that could mean not raising your hand, or letting someone else raise their hand, or just going through the motions. Your calendar may be full from 8-5, but logging into that conference call to have your name show up in the panel that you were there—even though you didn’t contribute anything to the meeting—makes you feel busy.
It can also point to another sign—that you are too comfortable. This happens after years of steady employment where you’ve been allowed to just go through the motions, show up when you needed to show up, but nothing externally or internally is creating a sense of urgency to do anything different. Perhaps you tried at one point but became de-motivated when things didn’t work out the way you envisioned them to.
One flaw in all of that is that it assumes that motivation can only come externally—from someone or something other than yourself. The boss passed you over for a promotion. The Department reorganized you into a new area. The company decided to continue to invest in the legacy technology that you’ve worked on for decades, so you should be set.
I think there is too much risk to behave this way in the workplace. Leaders are searching for curious people as it demonstrates a different level of engagement. Leaders what to know how to make things better, and curious people are motivated to contribute to that outcome. And finally, leaders need curious people. Without them, something externally will disrupt the situation, without a doubt.
Curiosity equates to motivation. Motivation equates to making things happen on your own terms—not the boss, the department, or the company.
I’ve learned this perspective over time and through experience. I observe people across the entire spectrum of curiosity and motivation. Re-framing to putting things on your own terms, and taking control of your own motivation and curiosity can not only lead to a happier work life, but one that has a higher potential of success and satisfaction.