Curiosity is Essential to Survival

I’ve been curious about what might be helpful for us during this pandemic.  None of us have ever experienced anything like this before so we’re all on the same playing field.  

One response from some is to start inventing and starting from scratch.  These folks are the ones who say stuff like:

  • “Can’t do business as usual”
  • “Every company and institution is now a startup”
  • “This is an opportunity to…”

There are others who might say:

  • “All is lost”
  • “I want it to go back to the way it was”
  • “What am I gonna do now”

I am deeply curious about what drives employees responses during this time.   As a matter of fact, I’ve been leaning into curiosity for years now and I’m not gonna change that.  I’m learning during this pandemic that curiosity is more vital than ever.

Brian Grazer has produced movies like A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and shows like Arrested Development.  He’s a great storyteller.  How did he become such a great storyteller and producer?  By having a curious mind. In his book, “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life”, Grazer says, 

Many of the best things that have happened in my life are the result of curiosity…[it] has never let me down.  I’m never sorry I asked that next question…curiosity has swung wide many doors of opportunity for me. I’ve met amazing people, made great movies, made great friends…”

But we’re in the middle of a crisis and pandemic.  Why would developing a curious mind and heart be helpful during this time?!  I’m so glad you curiously asked!  

Curiosity is essential to survival.  Grazer uses the example of early life tribes that had to use the power of story to share experiences of new discoveries.  Fire. Water. Discovering that you can boil potatoes. Or wondering if cougars were cool to hang with (not cool!). In our evolving as humans, it’s been curiosity that has helped us discover, invent, and protect.  We’ve had to learn how to survive our whole lives and curiosity has been an agent, a discipline we’ve needed.

At our fundamental core, we are imaginative and eager to learn about things we don’t know.  It’s like an itch that will not be satisfied until it’s scratched. So during this pandemic, you and I know need to practice curiosity.  We need to ask questions as we probe, search, and inquire about what this all means and where we’re going.  

But Grazer says being curious is not enough.  He says, 

“Curiosity motivates us to explore and discover.  Storytelling allows us to share the knowledge and excitement of what we’ve figured out.  And that storytelling in turn inspires curiosity in the people to whom we’re talking.”

Once we have an experience birthed from curiosity, you and I need to share it.  It’s how we discover and make meaning of what we’re learning. The curiosity and knowledge we attained deepens in us and others.  It blesses (my faith traditions way of saying it benefits and helps), invoking and inciting more curiosity, discovery, and opportunities.  

During this crisis and pandemic, curiosity will be essential to survive.  We have to ask the questions and seek meaning and purpose through all of this.

My work as a chaplain is to be deeply curious about others and their journey.  When I’m making calls or visiting employees, I’m trying to listen and see what is most important to the employee.  

Here are some questions of curiosity that are running through my brain these days.  I’m either asking them of someone else or myself:

  • How are you?
  • What’s been helpful for you (as a leader, parent, employee, human) during this process?
  • What are you reading?
  • What do you (and I) most need?
  • How are you steering developing an online community?
  • What are your biggest fears?  And if they come true, how will you respond?
  • What values are driving you?
  • What spiritual/emotional practices are keeping you centered and rooted?
  • Who have been invaluable voices that have been helpful to you?
  • What do you foresee in the next 6 months – 24 months?
  • What do you most need right now, in this present moment?