If you grew up with adages such as “curiosity killed the cat” and have integrated that into your parenting philosophy even sub-consciously, take note: in a 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 1000 CEOs, a number of them cited curiosity and open-mindedness as leadership traits that are becoming increasingly critical in our present turbulent times. This is partly because curious leaders lay a strong inquisitive foundation for the company, encouraging a culture of innovation.
Having read this in an HBR case study, I dug deep in my quest to update my parenting skills and here is what I found:
- The notion that curiosity is good for you is not just a 21st century fad: Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” And in the creative realm, Walt Disney attributed his success to “curiosity leading us down new paths.”
- Is curiosity born or bred? According to Ian Leslie, the author of Curious, curiosity is more of a state than a trait, and can be acquired by “breaking out of the bubble” frequently. For our kids, this means actively seeking out new experiences, ideas, and hobbies/pursuits.
- For curiosity to flourish, it is also necessary to have structured input and measurable learning outcomes—in other words, to have the format of classes, lessons, activities along with an inquisitive approach.
Curiosity led me further down this research path and I found yet another HBR article.
This time claiming that curiosity is as important as intelligence and introducing the concept of a CQ (curiosity quotient) along with IQ and EQ. The study suggests that individuals with higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences, more tolerant of ambiguity, and therefore capable of producing simple yet nuanced solutions to complex problems.
So as families start a new academic year, let’s try to become curious about curiosity and offer our children multiple avenues to explore their co-curricular and extracurricular pursuits. Let’s revisit some of those adages we grew up with. How about this: curiosity gave the cat its nine lives and made them scintillating!
– By Yogini Joglekar