By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.
As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of the intrigue and wonder I experienced as a child as to what Santa was going to leave me under the Christmas tree. I was curious as to what my presents (if any) would be. As I grew older, I became more and more curious as to Santa’s existence.
One year, after a discovery expedition in Mom and Dads’ closet a few weeks before Christmas, I found two football uniforms complete with pads and helmets. They were the perfect size for my brother and me. Holy cow! What a discovery! But had my curiosity gotten the better of me? If Santa was real, why was he hiding these ideal Christmas gifts in my parents’ closet? My curiosity helped me discover one of the coolest Christmas presents ever, but it also caused me to have doubts about Santa’s existence! I wasn’t sure if curiosity was a good thing or not!
Curiosity stirred feelings inside me that were exciting and tingling. The expedition in the closet was exciting; it was a clandestine and dangerous adventure. The surprise of the football gear was awesome! All in all, curiosity is an incredible experience, an incredible adventure, an incredible feeling as a child. Discovering the status of Santa’s existence was disappointing. It created certainty in the world that I did not want to embrace. That conclusion was the result of deductive reasoning. Curiosity was the cool part.
Adults have a tendency to suppress curiosity because of their need for certainty. Certainty provides comfort and security for adults but results in a loss of spontaneity, energy, surprise and new experiences. Certainty can equal boredom!
Effective leaders are curious. Curiosity generates feelings that are intriguing! Curiosity stimulates your brain. Curiosity leads to learning. Learning and curiosity go hand-in-hand. The greatest leaders are insatiable learners. The greatest leaders are curious.
Leaders have figured out what works and what doesn’t work. This is definitely an important aspect of leadership. Repeated implementation of proven ideas and strategies makes sense. This process leads to the success of organizational members and the organization itself. Success is good and desired, but what about fulfillment? Implementing the tried and true does lead to success and should not be sacrificed–however, routinely searching for new and different ideas can lead to greater fulfillment. Greater fulfillment can also lead to greater success. Research has found that the strongest predictors of how much enjoyment a person experiences in a given day is determined by whether he or she learned something new the day before.
Curiosity, fulfillment and learning are key components of effective leadership. The greatest leaders are insatiable learners. The greatest leaders are fulfilled and help others achieve fulfillment. The greatest leaders are curious.
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