My first visit to a naturopath’s office lasted 90 minutes. We discussed what I was experiencing in my body from head to toe, inside and out. She asked questions about each symptom I was experiencing and prescribed some blood work. But the real magic came with the next visit, when she seemingly crawled inside my shoes and made my problems her own. She had clearly undertaken a scientific investigation of what my body was doing to itself. The health problem we identified through that thorough visit was not what had originally brought me through the door, but it unlocked another health mystery I’d been battling for a decade.
What set that doctor apart from the majority of people I’ve encountered (not just medical professionals) was her innate desire for a job well done. She didn’t want to appease me or pull a trick out of her physician’s bag — it was manifestly important to her to determine what was going awry in me. She was curious.
That experience happened in my early twenties, and since then I’ve always noticed when someone conveys a genuine personal interest in doing their job well. Encounters with such people often change the course of my day. They fill me with hope and gratitude and inspire me to do my own work with as much heart and soul. Whether it’s a real estate agent, a dentist, a car salesman, or a florist, I choose to spend my money where I can tell someone genuinely cares about their job.
How Curiosity Leads to a Job Well Done
Curiosity is a self-satisfying desire. When a desire to know more motivates the quality of our work, there’s not a lot of brain space left to worry about protecting our egos. Solving mysteries and aligning puzzles is not about receiving prizes or paychecks – people actually pay money to play games for entertainment! Why? Because we like to be challenged! The flow state our brains love so much can only be achieved when we’re doing something that presents some level of difficulty.
When difficulty enters the equation and we like our work, our curiosity is sparked. We suddenly want to know more and do more, not just get the job done and get the day over with. This is how hours seem to disappear when we’re engaged in a game or puzzle.
Why Curiosity is More Important Than Skill
As I hire writers, I’m not looking for an impressive resume. A basic level of experience and skill are necessary to do a craft like writing on a professional level, but curiosity is one of the first things that attracts me to a candidate. Someone who is willing to take a few risks. Someone who knows the “rules” but interprets them generously to make room for new ideas. Someone who is responsive to the collaborative process in a way that indicates they’re a lifelong learner. These are qualities that are difficult to teach. You can invest money in someone’s training, but very seldom is a financial incentive enough to light the fire of curiosity.
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What Does Curiosity Look Like?
- It goes above and beyond. There are plenty of ways to satisfy a job duty. But the curious employee thinks one step ahead. They realize that processes were put in place because they’ve been established as effective, but they also realize that new processes emerge when people take the initiative to imagine the future. People think ahead.
- It’s personal. When a curious person does their job, you have the impression that they might happily do it for free. Their satisfaction comes from helping, solving, or learning rather than duty or obligation.
- It asks questions. Curiosity takes things to the next level. It isn’t content to do the bare minimum. Curious employees, whether they’re in sales, healthcare, or science, are always asking why. They’re noticing. They’re not checking boxes. They’re analyzing. They’re doing it better.
- It doesn’t rush. Curious work isn’t bound by the clock — or at least it doesn’t make other people feel that way. It treats people and problems like they’re the only ones in the room.
Curious employees have their eyes open. They see the relationship between their work, their personal growth, and the wellbeing of the person next to them. They’re inspiring and fun to be around. They make you feel well cared for. They make you want to do your own job better.