Updated: Nov 2, 2020
5 steps to keep your curiosity up throughout your career and life
People are replaceable, no organization is immune to falling in the face of competition. Constant evolvement is needed. Curiosity is the foundation. Be you born gifted with curiosity or not - multiple studies (including those featured by HBR and listed at the end of the note) confirm - it does take discipline and routine to see the result. This is how it works.
“I have spent some ten years in my job, and I fairly enjoy doing what I do, collaborating with my team yet I feel I am bit over it, bored, and maybe.. not excited about it anymore”, - subject of many conversations, equally encompassing executive directors and employees circles. Similar question I was asked during Starting Up show earlier this week -Podcast)..”
Disclaimer: What the readers won’t find in this note. There is no popular pledge for HR departments of innovative organizations to hypothetically jump above the head in customization of learning and development opportunities for employees.
In my career I have been blessed (and preemptively selective) by working for great organizations who made it a priority to invest in their people's learning and development - with that, I stubbornly remain an adept of personal responsibility when it comes to learning. Therefore, below:
5 steps I practice myself and those I’ve observed being honed by fellow executives managing successful teams and organizations:
Step 1. Be bold in aspiration to learn how the universe works and be generous with ink.
Once a year, and there are 365 “once” at our disposal, get bold and creative - write down or type a list of about ten to a hundred things you’d like to learn.
Step 2. Prioritize and make sure the list is diverse.
Given your schedule and lifestyle identify the top things that you wish and realistically can learn. Investment in learning and self-development is a classical area where there is no standard, industry average number of things one should commit to on an annual basis.
With prioritization comes the bucket check - check the list whether it is a well balanced and diverse list of learning interests. Usually one would have three categories, depending on the initial objective:
Levelling up your expertise within your current professional mandate
Exploring and preparing yourself for an alternative career path
Learning things for pleasure - allowing yourself to be a well-rounded person with diverse interests while avoiding being trumpery
Step 3. Do the homework.
At this stage of your life, there is no teacher or supervisor. There is only you managing “You” enterprise and assigning yourself the homework. Investigate how practically you can obtain knowledge about subjects selected during Step 2.
Until today we as humankind have never lived in the times like today when education and knowledge are:
dematerialized (we don’t need a paper book or even a kindle when there is a good and insightful podcast streaming on our mobiles)
demonetized (one word - YouTube)
and democratized, ultimately (one word - Coursera).
Consequently, there are only three obstacles that can prevent you from completing this exercise: excuse, laziness, and contemplation.
Step 4. Be pragmatic - set investment target and desired ROI
Once you know what you wish to learn, and means how you can obtain that knowledge - time to fit it into your allocated investment budget, considering money and time.
In personal experience, the financial investment in learning and self-development is crucial. The absolute amount is irrelevant. However just as each year I have saving goals, I do have an allocated self-education budget that is spent on: specific conferences and workshops that I believe will bring me the value in terms of industry insights and expanding network, art and culture related trips, books.
Don’t forget to ask yourself what will be the ROI - how you will actually measure such investment? Feeling good also counts. To get an in-depth idea of the best approach to measure everything - my all-time favourite book by John Doerr and Larry Page, listed below.
Step 5. Logistics - use a tool of your choice
Tools to create space in your life for investment in developing your curiosity and making you competitive:
Old fashioned paper calendar to mark with learning activities or similar to Evernote app
Google suit (calendar, sheets)
Trello (it is quite pleasurable to move cards from “To-learn” list to “Completed” list)
Last but not least - enjoy the process: investing in yourself, learning, and living. Stay curious. Enterprise is "a large project, especially one that is difficult" (Oxford Dictionary). You are one. Run yourself well.
Recommended reading list:
Article. The Business Case for Curiosity, by Francesca Gino
Book. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs, by John Doerr, Larry Page