We’re all curious. That’s why you’re reading this. You want to know how to make your team more innovative or productive. Well, the first step is realizing that curiosity’s default position is “on.” That is, it’s innate and natural for us to examine our world, to find more accessible, better ways to go about living and working.
So, the flame of curiosity isn’t something you need to light in your life. It’s already there. You only need to foster it. Or, at the very least, don’t snuff it out. Knowing how to instill a sense of wonder is a vital tool for progressing in life. So here are four ways to spark curiosity and growth in yourself and others.
1. Use Documentaries To Teach And Inspire
Not everyone in the office wants to talk about work-related topics all day. But sometimes it can be hard to think of other conversation-starters that don’t involve work. In such cases, documentaries are handy sources of inspiration.
There are documentaries on every subject imaginable. They’re inexpensive, easily accessible, and you can watch them alone or with friends. Plus, they’re contagious. Surveys show 70% of documentary watchers share what they learn with others. So, along with gaining knowledge for yourself, you might help someone else by making them curious.
Find documentaries that fit your goals. Whether that’s finding new things to talk about at the office or if it’s only to entertain, there’s a documentary film or series out there for you (your team). Hold a documentary viewing party for your friends and family or suggesting streaming one at work for a company event. Public viewings offer abundant opportunities to explore themes you want to learn about for personal growth and increased cooperation among both your personal and professional relationships.
2. Explore Hobbies
If you’re going to stoke creativity and curiosity in your own life, go where it already exists — hobbies. Hobbies are the “work” we do for free. They’re our rewards for being responsible and doing the things we have to every day. Whatever hobby you might have in mind, there’s already a community that’s centered around it. You’ll be able to learn from others in that community as well as share your interests. We all like sharing our interests and knowledge.
Hobbies also spark curiosity in other people. When we learn about another’s amusement, we either connect through shared interests (“Oh, I like to do that too!”) or through curiosity (“What’s it like doing that?”). Both perspectives are beneficial because they promote personal connections. Common challenges to communication disappear. Social status and opposing views fall away and help us build positive relationships.
Many hobbies teach us essential skills and help us develop a healthy lifestyle, and we don’t even realize it most of the time. Rock climbing is both fun and keeps you physically active, but it can also help you stay mentally focused. Building model train sets increase your attention to detail and improve your creativity. Whatever hobby you choose and enjoy, it’s likely positively helping you, whether or not you realize it.
3. Turn Problems Into Questions At Work
Sometimes, the way you frame a problem makes the difference between success and failure. Presenting a problem foregrounds the negative aspects of not solving it. “We aren’t selling enough units this month,” says more than you think. Is it direct and efficient? Yes. Does it get the point across? Definitely. Will it communicate urgency? Absolutely. But it also raises stress levels and kills curiosity. The only thing you (and probably your coworkers) are curious about is how to avoid blame.
Presenting challenges in this way promotes self-preservation over teamwork, encourages competition rather than collaboration. It forecloses problem-solving and raises fears about performance and job security.
Instead, turn problems into specific questions. “What can I do to help my team increase sales by 10% this next month?” The small change opens the floor for new ideas, invites out-of-the-box thinking, and encourages experimentation. Plus, questions are much clearer to your team. They may take your problem statement as an exclamation rather than a request. But a question is specific. There’s no ambiguity about your goals. Take the initiative and use a guide to problem framing to inspire curiosity at work in yourself and your team at your next meeting.
4. Model Curiosity
Others look around to figure out what’s “normal.” Your behavior sets expectations. So be a model of inquisitiveness. Ask more questions than you give answers. Listen as much as you speak. Share your hobbies. Take some online classes. Offer learning and development opportunities and take advantage of yourself. And create an atmosphere wherever you go for inquiring minds to flourish, a safe space to experiment and play with ideas and interests.
Even the most un-siloed people still have barriers that snuff out creativity. Some people use overly technical jargon in regular conversation to impress or exclude others. Other people stick to inside jokes or relate experiences known only to a few. These situations promote one part of the group over another. They intimidate some curiosity-seekers and silence others who fear to say something that might sound “dumb.” They emotionally and creatively silo others, lowering overall morale in any setting.
So, model a more inclusive approach and stamp out any activities that marginalize others. There’s so much we can learn from the people around us and someone you know might spark curiosity in your life.
Fan The Spark Of Curiosity
Whether you’re aiming to help your team at work be more curious or you need a little bit of motivation in your own life, these ways can help you to achieve that. It will require a conscious effort on your part but will be worth it in the end. Not only will you be more curious, but you have the opportunity each day to fan the spark of curiosity in the lives of the people you meet.