Lack of Curiosity Can Kill Your Career and Rob You of Joy


Do you have a high degree of curiosity? If you don’t you could be missing out on one of the most important keys to success and a fulfilling life. While I’ve written about beginner’s mind before, I am drawn back to the topic of curiosity as I am just finishing the book Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life by Todd Kashdan, Ph.D. This book takes a scientific look at the benefits of having a healthy curiosity in all areas of our life.


Do you find yourself bored by the same-old, same-old? Does your career move you to tears? Have your long-term relationships gotten stale? Does life just feel too mundane? If so, you may be experiencing a big deficit of curiosity which can help lead you from blah to fully engaged and alive.


In one study that Kashdan described, subjects thought that understanding what happened to them was essential to feeling good. What the study found, however was that what we think brings us pleasure and meaning is often the exact opposite of what does. As a result, if we believe that understanding everything, being able to confidently predict the future, and being in control are necessary, then we drift toward stagnation. This means we go through life underestimating two profound sources of happiness and meaning in life: novelty and uncertainty.

Our need to know and control coupled with the negative effects of worry and anxiety tend to lead us toward a mundane, stagnant existence that we are reluctant to change. After all doing things differently would require that we gladly accept some fear and uncertainty. It might even require that we be open and curious about ourselves, circumstances in our lives, and the world around us. We’d have to give up what we “know” in order to embrace not knowing.

Think about it – when do you feel most alive

(I mean really alive not necessarily 100% comfortable)?

a) When you are doing something you do every day practically on autopilot?


b) When you are doing or experiencing something for the first time?

I don’t know about you but when I am learning something new or experiencing something for the first time it is far more exciting, appealing, and thought-provoking. I love to ask questions and always have one on the tip of my tongue. How does it work? What does that do? Is this typical?

How inquisitive are you

  • * At your job or in your business?
  • * With loved ones you’ve known for a long time?
  • * As you engage in your daily activities?

If you’re like most people, most likely you aren’t very inquisitive, you just go with the status quo. We know what we think we know and close off a whole world of possibilities and learning. This very phenomena is what you see when you watch the progression from new love interest (everything is exciting, you want to learn and engage with one another, how great is this!) to long-term relationship (oh it’s just the way he/she is, I already know what they are going to think, situation normal and boring).

Which approach do you think brings you more success and fulfillment? The inquisitive you or the disinterested you?

Anxiety and worry kill our curious nature. They close us off in fear and render us ineffective and exhausted. The often prevent us from doing the very thing we need to do – open up to curiosity. It doesn’t have to be that way.

A Coach’s Challenge for You

Start building your curiosity muscle and bring it back from the atrophy of neglect. We all have the ability to be curious, just watch any small child. We were that child once. Like any new habit it takes consistency to build it up. So, start with 5 minutes a day and take the curious approach to something. By that I mean:

* Do it differently (add a little variety to a mundane task from using the opposite hand for a task to driving a new way to work).

* Put yourself in a good mood and experience something old in a whole new way (try lighting a candle and listening to great music while paying your bills).

* Increase the challenge of something to engage your strengths. (turn the mundane into a playful game).

* Ask questions (get inquisitive and start wondering – for example “how does this toilet really flush?” or “what really allows me to make cookies from flour and water rather than paper mache?”)

* Enroll a buddy (nothing makes the play of curiosity more fun than enrolling someone to take up this game with you).

* Go on a treasure hunt to identify something unfamiliar in a familiar activity (ditch labels and expectations and give something a fair chance by trying something you don’t think you’d like and coming up with 3 unique things about it).

Try one or more of these ideas each day. You need to practice curiosity regularly to see the results. With this new mindset, everything you do is fueled by openness and curiosity. Then you just might find yourself slipping into a life full of meaning.

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