The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
What is too much, too little, or just enough questioning? It is a question that has no real answer, but does represent the value of curiosity. And no, curiosity did not kill the cat, as many were told when young. Without questioning, there is little hope for new solutions to old problems, and no hope for new solutions to new problems.
The top trait of personal growth and intellectual development that leads to success and extraordinary leadership is the ability to ask the tough questions and be questioned and have clear answers.
However, some people are naturally more inquisitive than others, and those who question everything can appear intrusive, probing, and even stubborn; especially when they will not take “no” for an answer. Usually that is a sign of not listening and being obstinate, rather than an honest inquiry. Even so, there may be something behind their questioning that may be worth exploring.
As a parent, if you have or have raised such an inquisitive child compared to one who is more docile, you know the difference between the two and effort it takes to parent appropriately. On the surface, the docile child appears more obedient because they rarely question anything you say. However, you’re not fooled. Often they have simply learned that if you don’t ask and secretly do your own thing, you aren’t being overtly defiant.
Fostering curiosity and the ability to appropriately questions things that don’t make sense or feel right are important personal leadership skills and in some cases, a life-saving skill.
Children and adults can get into trouble when they don’t question things, like a secretary who looks the other way of a boss’s unethical behavior, or a child who is molested by a trusted family member. In both extreme cases, the person knows inside, even a young child, there is something to question that doesn’t feel right. However, the fear of reprisal or overt threats keeps Pandora’s Box sealed for years. Sooner or later, questions left unasked or unanswered will stress the body and mind, and the questions most often feared are those where you already know the answer inside.
Being genuinely curious is a sign of a desire to grow and learn, also a mark of interest and concern. In education, asking questions in a variety of ways is the teaching tool that helps students to learn and think critically. Learning to ask the right questions, at the right time, is a function of higher levels of human thinking behavior and an art in itself. Curiosity is truly the hallmark of all achievement and success.
However, in a world made up of 30-second sound bites and instant solutions to complex problems, it is easy to losing sight of one of the most important functions of the human heart, mind, and spirit. For without authentic questions, there are no answers to the things that matter most in life, and without the curiosity to find the answers, one is destined to live in survival mode for most of their life.
So let’s examine the value of growing curiosity as it correlates to questioning in acronym form:
- Move to the top of the scale on Bloom’s higher order of thinking
- Make sense of the world around you
- Connect disparate parts to the whole
- Look for new ways of doing things
- Free the mind to see new ideas and spark dormant thoughts
- Seed the answers to pressing problems
- Fertilize individual and collective action
- Validate what you know intuitively and cognitively
- Move from no to “yes” and ultimately thrive
In fact, these actions and values are the roots of extraordinary leadership, and when your natural curiosity is suppressed, the flow of your most important wonders and creations stop.
To begin to activate and grow the curious leader within, start with the big question WHY: Wonder How You . . . ? Keep the focus on you. When asking why and how from this context, the answers you are seeking begin to emerge from within.
Too often humans begin looking for answers without first consulting their leader within. If you don’t know the answer and need to seek outside help, you will be clearer in your quest and know the right questions to ask. Whether it is the advice of a doctor, parent, teacher, business consultant, or career counselor that you seek, they will still ask questions of what you want or need to begin.
So this summer as you commune with nature, allow your curiosity to flourish and don’t forget to ask WHY and really listen to your answer inside.
Debra J. Slover is an award winning author and founder of the Leadership Garden® Legacy. Her goal is to seed and nurture personal leadership at home, in school, the community, and workplace through the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series of youth and adult leadership empowerment books. An educator, speaker, coach, and philanthropist advocating for the creation of positive climates to practice leadership, her expertise stems from 34 years empowering youth and adult leadership in school and community environments. A mother of five/grandmother of seven, she resides with her husband in Albany, Oregon. For more information please visit www.LeadershipGardenLegacy.com.