Earlier this week, talking with an Argentinean friend, she asked me what was among the best qualities everyone should have. No doubt: “curiosity”. Curiosity is a life achievement key. It’s part of those good behaviors we have as kids and unfortunately many of us lose it when we grow up as adults. Curiosity maintains everyone open minded to opportunities most don’t see.
Curiosity vs Smart Curiosity
I first said curiosity but her face made me notice it was too generic, so I corrected it to smart curiosity. Being insanely curious won’t help anyone much in life. By permanently questionning people about their personal life or looking for gossips won’t help no one getting ahead in life.. Ok, I may be a bit harsh. But curiosity can serve much more than that.
Curiosity is the key. But it has to make sense. I’m not writing about learning trivial pursuit game cards. This is just an accumulation of random knowledge. It can help you shinning in dinners by spreading your culture but then you’ll figure out you just know plenty of small facts. It can be embarrassing to show off explaining “What does the term ‘dinosaur’ actually mean?” and then being unable to quote 5 of them or have a real discussion with other guests.
Smart curiosity is simple. Smart curiosity is useful. Smart curiosity helps understanding everyone’s world. Smart curiosity is a state of mind. When someone or a close relation get sick and this person tries to understand why? how?; this is smart curiosity. You gain some medical comprehension that help you understanding the body behavior and its reactions. It won’t cure but understanding is helpful to get better and keep going on. Ignorance is the enemy.
Smart curiosity is the key
In my job, green building design, I have the good luck to meet architects, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, facade engineers… The best part of it? It offers me the opportunity to learn from them and improve my skills. By interesting me in what they do and how, they make me better so my work’s quality upgrades. Smart curiosity offers a double reward: people love to share what they do, what animate them and so they do appreciate your empathy. Being able to listen is a highly rewarding skill, though. Smart curiosity is all about endlessly wondering and asking the right question.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein.
Smart curiosity makes the difference. Forget about diplomas, years of experience. After achieving the first 3 working years, they don’t prove nothing anymore. Many times, the most impressive people I’ve met where not the one with the biggest resume or experiences. They were the one who had been living each of their experience at its best.
During the INDESO project in Indonesia, I enjoyed working with a 60 years old satellite expert. By being curious, he learnt from other projects and helped me a lot with the building design thanks to its extra-experience. Which was totally out of his scope. Still in Indonesia, I also met world class experts, expecting a lot, and finally being disappointed. I believe their lack of curiosity prevents them from taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities they have. And they have a lot meeting plenty of different people traveling the world. Of course I don’t state they are all like this, just some I met.
Of the impossibility to live without curiosity
I’m not stating that smart curiosity is a universal pre-requisite in everyone’s own way towards life achievement. But by adopting this state of mind you offer yourself the opportunity to reach your targets and open new horizons. Without curiosity, you’ll probably get stuck in a channel and won’t notice there are other ways to achieve your goals.
I met too many expatriates while living in Indonesia or Latin America who didn’t speak more than 10 words of the language. One in a short-term assignment in Indonesia is understandable. But after 3 years? And what about expatriates in latin-america who don’t speak a basic spanish after a year. More than 400 milion people speak spanish around the world, speaking it is just an incredible asset for your career evolution. Apart from that, how much must they miss of their living abroad experience? Montevideo is not a big melting pot, who do they talk to? How boring and limited this should be!
Smart curiosity constantly opens your eyes to new opportunities. All change makers share this state of mind and don’t race for piling up degrees or superficial “good looking on resume” experiences. Smart curiosity is an essential way to take the best from each experience. It’s a chance emulator helping you mastering your own story.