Humans are, by nature, curious beings. Watch a child interact with the world, eyes wide, trying to comprehend it all for the first time.
So why, when in meetings, lecture halls, or gatherings, does no one raise their hand? What changes when we grow up?
Many of us have lost curiosity in the world around us. We live in our own bubbles of gym, work, home, sleep, repeat. We rarely venture out of that bubble, and if we do, it's only to escape to a different vacation bubble. Even when we interact online or with media, we carefully craft our bubbles of bias and political viewpoints so we are never "offended," meaning we never engage with ideas with which we disagree.
CURIOSITY (N): THE STRONG DESIRE TO KNOW OR LEARN SOMETHING
Curiosity is the desire to keep learning for the sake of learning and to ask for the sake of asking. It's asking the tough questions, like "Why?" Curiosity pops the bubbles.
True curiosity, the burning desire to understand, to explore, pushes boundaries away and makes it appear as if they never existed in the first place. If optimism powers innovation, curiosity sparks it.
As this HBR article describes, in addition to IQ and EQ, we have a new metric: CQ. Those who are instinctively curious generate more ideas, tolerate ambiguity, and are energized, rather than daunted, by complexity, because they love to learn.
Curiosity enables "What if" thinking. It defeats the phrase "That's how we've always done it." It opens us up to "Imagine a world where..." We dream because we seek to know and understand what's out there. What the world (and beyond) has to offer. Our curiosity drives us to do more than exist. It drives us to change our story and be our own hero.
That's why we have literature. That's why we have explorers conquering "impossible" mountains, or social entrepreneurs designing new ways to connect across oceans. That's why NASA chose the name 'Curiosity' for our Mars rover. It's an entirely human quality and characteristic that drives our search for new life and new civilizations.
Ultimately, to be innovative, we have to let our curiosity drive our actions, rather than our fear of going outside our bubbles. We have to raise our hands and ask the questions that must be asked, push the boundaries that need to be pushed.