What does “curious” mean? (Exactly.)
“Curious.” It’s a strange word.
If you read it over and over it doesn’t look like how it sounds, and it barely resembles what it means. It isn’t an adjective describing something like a cure unless you refer to a fascination (“I thought the anecdote was curious myself”), and it isn’t a conjugated verb tense when referring to radioactive units of measurement:
1 Curie, 2 Curie-um, 3 Curious…
So What is “Curious?”
The Free Dictionary defines “curious” as:
- Eager to learn more: curious investigators; a trapdoor that made me curious.
- Unduly inquisitive; prying.
- Arousing interest because of novelty or strangeness: a curious fact.
- Archaic: Accomplished with skill or ingenuity OR Extremely careful; scrupulous.
And of course many of us in the USA have been touched by NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory character on Mars for which this blog is namesaked.
But wait! There’s more…
Curiosity Saved the Cat
Yes, I know, I know… you probably have heard that “Curiosity Killed the Cat“… But my version is more true than the original saying.
Anyone who’s owned a cat or even observed one knows that a cat is at least 80% curious during its few waking hours. The fact that the average domestic cat lives 12-14 years easily tells me that curiosity hardly “kills” a cat.
If it did, their lifespans would probably be closer to 6 months.
And so with that logic, curiosity and the characteristics that often come with it (tenacity, patience, resourcefulness, imaginative, solution-driven, etc) can lead to survival, utmost achievement, and a perpetuation of “living” that might be unparalleled to any other characteristic.
So why don’t we hear about more leaders being described as CURIOUS?
What led to my achievement?
“Oh that’s easy: I AM CURIOUS…”
When I was asked what has led to my achievement, my response was that I am curious. With my answer, all eyebrows went up as their complementary blank stares bore into my soul. I felt compelled to say, “Nah, I’m just kidding!” so that I could move on to a far more lofty answer, the one they seemed to have expected in contrast to my simple adjective.
But… “curious” isn’t a simplistic answer AT ALL. And it is almost never easy. I think it’s just underestimated, as though any fool can do it and do it well.
But let me tell you, being curious is anything but simplistic or something that handled well by fools.
Getting More Curious
And so I got curious. Again.
And this raises some questions:
- Why aren’t we getting back to basics when it comes to linking leadership traits and success traits?
- During these times when companies are struggling to work differently, how many truly struggle because leadership cannot embrace a new way of thinking?
- How many truly struggle because they have lost the wonderment of asking curious questions?
- How many truly struggle because they have lost the imagination that got them into position in the first place?
Braniac is As Brainiac Does
Good ‘ol Albert Einstein said it best when he said…
“I am not more gifted than the average human being. If you know anything about history, you would know that is so–what hard times I had in studying and the fact that I do not have a memory like some other people do… I am just more curious than the average person and I will not give up on a problem until I have found the proper solution.
This is one of my greatest satisfactions in life–solving problems–and the harder they are, the more satisfaction do I get out of them.
Maybe you could consider me a bit more patient in continuing with my problem than is the average human being.
Now, if you understand what I have just told you, you see that it is not a matter of being more gifted but a matter of being more curious and maybe more patient until you solve a problem.” ~ Albert Einstein, as listed in goodreads.com for “curiousity”)
Question, question, question… and Get Curious
And so as I leave you with those words, ask yourself how curious you let yourself get throughout the day? How much do you allow yourself and enable yourself to ask questions and find everyday things interesting? Just curious… what’s stopping you?
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Filed under: Coaching Corner, Leadership Lessons Learned, Leading & Developing Other Leaders, Practical Steps to Influence | Tagged: communication, emotional intelligence, leadership, learning, mentoring, motivation, problem-solving, Self-development, servant leader | Leave a comment »