Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's good for your career

CuriosityWe have all heard the phrase "curiosity killed the cat", but in my experience, intellectual curiosity is great for your career... (and in case you're interested, Warren Buffett agrees with me).

The message from this blog post is simply that approaching business and perhaps life, with a desire to learn, will be good for your career. I personally, am aiming for "lifelong learning" so I encourage you to read on for supporting arguments and tips on how to achieve just that.

The costs associated with pursuing learning will vary with the approach you take. One likely cost however, is time:
- time away from your job and the activities that contribute towards this year's bonus, or
- personal time that could be spent with family, friends etc.

If you decide to undertake formal education there will also likely be a financial cost.

In considering the above, it might be worth noting that in spending time learning about your coworkers, you may discover an area of the business that can help you to achieve your business goals faster. 

Regarding use of personal time... if you love learning it may not actually be a "time cost" to learn something new.

The benefits of having and displaying curiosity are numerious. Here are just a few:
- improved relationships with coworkers
If you seek to understand what your coworkers do day-to-day, you will have a better understanding of the challenges that they face and will likely develop rapport with them.
- stimulated creativity 
Learning new material and having discussions with others can spark creativity. For further tips on Creativity, refer to my blog post on the topic
- ability to better assess and learn from feedback without being defensive
Listening to feedback with the goal of learning, natually reduces defensiveness
- knowledge you can build on as you progress in your career

What to be curious about:
If you've come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the costs, you may be wondering "What should I be curious about?" and the short answer is everything.
If that's too general, perhaps you might want treat it like a series of circles (with your day-job at the center). The following is purely a thought-provoker (not a comprehensive list):
> Learn everything you can about your role,
> Learn about the roles of your immediate coworkers.
> Learn about the company.
> Learn about the industry.
> Learn about the function.
> Learn about history of your company.
> Learn about the history of your industry.
> Learn about the history of your function.
> Learn about the future of your industry or where its likely to head.
> Learn about the future of your function or where its likely to head.

How and where to begin:
Start with an open mind and a desire to learn, then, if it fits with your personality, set yourself a goal.
After that, begin to:
Talk - with people, about the topics you're interested in learning about or are already learning about. It reinforces what you've learned and you'll gain another perspective.
Read - books, articles, blog posts, magazines etc.
Listen to - news reports, interviews, stories you've heard, advice that's given etc.
Watch/observe - videos, presentations, how other people act etc. and
Attend - industry events, classes, lectures, etc.

That's it for now; until next time... good luck and have fun!

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