Curiosity – WORK Exploration
Legend has it that a cat had been killed. It was all over the news. There is no book that has not talk about it, as there is no kid who has not been threatened with it. The killer is still over there, and it keeps killing over and over cats. It sounds scaring, doesn’t it? Well, it shouldn’t be. Apparently the most known cat’s killer wasn’t the end of its ninth life, but no other than the curiosity.
Have you ever thought of how many negative acceptations the word “curiosity” has? Without even looking at idioms, checking the dictionary is enough to understand that there is something not one hundred percent positive about it. “Curios” has been defined as something “unusual”, “bizarre”, “weird”. Quoting directly what Online Etymology Dictionary says, we can find that the word has many meanings: “mid.-14.c., “subtle, sophisticated;” late 14c., “eager to know, inquisitive, desirous of seeing (often in a bad sense), also “wrought with or requiring care and art;”
from Old French curios “solicitous, anxious, inquisitive; odd, strange” (Modern French curieux) and directly from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome,”
akin to cura “care” (Online Etymoly Dictionary). Beyond the different meanings that this mistreated word has, its etymology is actually interesting, because it refers to “cura”, as above said, or rather in English “promptness”, “concern”. Philosophically speaking also, the curios one is the person that cares and has thoughtfulness. It is the person who puts in consideration what s(he) already knows existing and what it still unknown. Is it that bad to be curious so? This essay intends to requalify curiosity’s definition and to redeem it as an actual tool to learn and to develop, whether as individuals or within a team.
Dangerous or profitable?
“Curiosity is not a sin,” he said. “But we should exercise caution with our curiosity.”
As much as I think of it, I don’t see curiosity as a dangerous quality, but of course, Albus Silente is right and like every other quality, also curiosity should be balanced in our life and it should be used cum grano salis (= in small doses) or, to quote Paracelsus, “Sola dosis facit venenum” – “Only the doses make the poison”. Foucault identifies curiosity with “a passion for seizing what is happening now and what is disappearing.” We can think that science and all the discoveries we can talk about are the extraordinary results of humanity’s curiosity after centuries of experiments. Where science would be without the willing to go forward in scientific research? No talking about philosophy which would never be born either without curiosity. “Is there life after death?”, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” are questions that along centuries opened our mind and raised questions over questions. It is a game that we play within our thirst of knowledge or, if we like more, a never-ending challenge that only the bravest minds are ready to take. This was the necessary precondition to let us reflect on how curiosity has been in fact a mark of human life.
Socrates himself describes philosophy as none other than accepting our ignorance, because knowing that we know nothing is the key to grow and develop – if, of course, we have the right desire to comprehend what it is around, obviously –. Because I would like to specify that not everyone is endowed with this trait. Children usually are naturally curious because they can look at things in a constant state of wondering and surprise. They have that ability to be amazed by things and to keep questioning because not even the fourth answer is enough.
As Antoine Saint-Exupery once wrote in his The Little Prince, “All grown-ups were once children first but few of them remember it” and forgetting that, many adults just start settling with common answers and stop seeking for new ones. The “being curious” quality is indeed a characteristic, a talent, that only the luckiest ones have. And how fortunate coincidence is to have a creature like that in a job place. I would like to focus now on the possibilities that this quality can have in work life.
“Passion and curiosity drive innovation.”
From now on we are going to refer to intellectual curiosity or rather that skill that leads to seeking constantly new answers despite having already sufficient ones. Let’s see now how having a speculative mindset should be seen a skill at work. Is it a fact of smartness? Does this trait denote intelligence somehow? Of course, it depends on which criteria we use to label a person as a smart one, but it is easy to assume that curiosity leads most likely to new learnings and more knowledge. “Intellectually curious people aren’t satisfied with the status quo as an answer to their questions. They dig deep into topics to fully understand the reasoning behind common processes.” (Maggie Wooll). It is having a critical awareness of the world and the desire to dig deeper than the surface. American philosopher and psychologist William James described curiosity as “the impulse towards better cognition” and this already explains how it can bring so many benefits to the workplace. An active mind like that have most probably more problem-solving skills because it could tackle situations in a more creative way and turning problems into challenges. Curiosity can also increase productivity and embrace diversity better within a multicultural team. A constant learner also adopts a growth mindset which is absolutely crucial in a individual level as to create a health learning environment in the working team. Moreover, intellectual curiosity may sometimes involve the empathic dimension of this skill. In other words this person will be most probably more able to reduce group conflict because s(he) would be more sensitive to listen to his/her collegues and to understand better them. It is a beneficial skill that tends to encourage curiosity at all levels, that it means that the profits for the person and his/her job organization are potentially countless.
Conclusion – Take leave of your senses!
Dare to ask, dare to question. Dare to leave what it is known and to seek what is still behind it.
Intellectual curiosity is the key to learn and to improve as individually as professionally, as well as the healthiest way to develope ourselves. No matter what sayings keep telling us, but what it should be clear is that there are only advantages to be curious. It is a innate quality of humanity, it is the engine that actually allowed humankind to develop and to grow. Plato itself expressed his theory about it with the mith of the cave: many humans are in fact satisfied to look at the reality as they could see in the cave, in ignorance, without questionning anything; others instead don’t accept not to understand in a deeper way so they are brave enough to see what is outside the cave. You won’t know it before leaving it yourself. Consider curiosity as a need to know, something directed toward what is unknown, possibly strange, potentially good. Still scared of being curious? Don’t worry. At least Steven Wright is ironic about it saying: “Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.”
- Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/curious. Read on 28.02.2022.
- Curious? Wanting to learn more is key to career success. https://www.betterup.com/blog/intellectual-curiosity#:~:text=Intellectual%20curiosity%20is%20a%20person’s,dig%20deeper%20than%20the%20surface.&text=When%20you’re%20intellectually%20curious,are%20the%20way%20they%20are. Read on 12.03.2022.
- https://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1193&context=etd. Read on 01.03.2022