Are You Curious?

Seriously, are you? Not in the typical fashion where you pry into people’s lives, snoop through your significant others sh*t, or ask intimate questions to a stranger. This isn’t “creeper” curious (although you might argue that even some creepers are pretty analytical and intelligent, i.e. the main character in the TV show “You”).

I’m talking about the curiosity to know more than you know. In my world, curiosity can be the difference between mediocrity and superiority. Who strives for mediocrity? More people than you can imagine (in the military at least). I would say that the mediocre outnumber the superior — which makes sense when you consider just the ASVAB test amongst a variety of factors that determine someone’s position/role/job on the military.

When you don’t have an answer, you ask someone or Google it until you find the answer(s). Do you go one step beyond that?

Probably not. That’s okay, it doesn’t mean you’re mediocre. It means you aren’t curious or that you don’t care. Like I mentioned, being curious can make a difference in my world. In an office where you’re surrounded by super smart folks, uniquely talented individuals, and a few people with a plethora of experience, how do you compensate? It’s not a crazy process. While we can get into talent versus skill and the sets & reps required to breed success, that’s not the point here. You can cover the spread in your “knowledge gap” with a simple approach: be curious.

Scenario time? Yep (duh). Obviously, you’re having that little thought resonate in your brain tank, wondering where the f*ck I’m going with this. Chill. We will keep it simple: you have a complex problem to solve at work. You’re working on approaches to this problem, doing some of your typical analysis to find answers. It’s a difficult problem to “solve” and your training is adequate enough to help you along. As you find answers, you have a mental checklist that you “check” as you go. Check. Check. Check. Boom. Answer found. You have the answer. Breathe. Are you done?

Good enough? Sureeeeee. Whatever you say. Good enough for government work, right? Yeah… sure. I’ll be honest, some of the smartest people I know are horrible at their jobs simply because their lack of curiosity is just another form of their LAZINESS.

The curious person starts to dig! Why is ______ the answer to your problem? Is that it? Is there more? Did you miss something? Given your answer, how do those pieces of your checklist work? Where’s the analysis behind it? Did you take the only approach? Is there another tool that you can use? Do you have the most recent training? Do you know how each of the pieces function that helped you find your answer? Question, question, question… question!!! You’re curious about every step of the process. I get it, this sounds like a rabbit hole you can’t back out of.

The rabbit hole isn’t always a waste of time. It can be, of course, if you aren’t striving to find answers to your answers. That’s my point — curiosity can give you the edge. The competitive edge, the advantage in business, the overall awareness to make sound decisions.

Have you ever been blown away by a brief, presentation, or discussion in which the person providing information seems like a savant? They don’t just tell you who, what, where, and when, but they tell you the WHY. Why? Because they’re curious. That simple trait of curiosity can compensate for their lack of skill, talent, or experience. They don’t settle for mediocrity.

I’ve always been content with the fact that I’m not the smartest person in the room. That’s not self-doubt, that’s awareness. So, how do I compete? Curiosity. That’s my competitive edge. Try it. You don’t have to be the smartest. You don’t have to be the most educated. You just need to be curious. Curios people notice the details that the mediocre person will always overlook.

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