I’m a curious person. I’m sure I drove my parents crazy as a boy. I was that kid who asked “why” a lot. It’s in my nature to want to know how stuff works and why things happen. I like to be in the know.
Growing up, my Dad would say, “no one wants to know how the sausage gets made.” Because, as it turns out, the process of making sausage is gross. There are a lot of parts being used. The theory being if people knew how the sausage gets made, they wouldn’t want to eat it. But sausage is delicious, so it better not know and just enjoy. Dumb and happy.
I want to know how the sausage gets made. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.
I tend to enjoy being around others who have the same mentality. I like people who are intellectually curious. I find myself drawn to that personality type. I also find myself withdrawing from the opposite. Anyone who says, “Well, I don’t care, it tastes good, and that’s good enough for me,” perplexes me. I know I shouldn’t, but I tend to question their intelligence. How the heck could you not care? Why don’t you want to know? Aren’t you even a bit curious?
Of course, this is rarely about the sausage!
When I look at the people in my life who are super successful, they all share this trait. They are curious to a fault. They want to understand things. They want to learn new things. They have the desire to see things work better.
This doesn’t mean that all of these things they can fix. But they have the knowledge of why it’s broken and what they can do or not do to make it better. Just being curious isn’t a superpower. If you add in self-motivation and some intelligence, well then, that combination might be a superpower!
So, how do we find folks who are curious?
I heard a hiring manager recently ask this question, and I kind of love it:
“Tell me something new you learned in the past three days.”
For those who are curious, we are learning new stuff every single day! So, just picking one from the last three days isn’t as hard as it might sound on the fly. Just yesterday, I went down a rabbit hole on how to eliminate ground bee nests using dry ice and the science behind it (BTW – don’t try this at home, it doesn’t work well).
So many questions. Why bees? Why dry ice? It turns out I hate bees. It’s spring and getting warm, so why not be ready? Dry ice? I don’t know, it sounded different, and maybe it’s as effective as using chemicals since I have dogs. See, you can learn more than you want to know!
My grandmother would always say, “Curiosity killed that cat.” Again, you can tell my entire family got sick of me asking questions. But I also don’t like cats, so it didn’t bother me much. We tend to have a problem with people asking too many questions. Certain people become wary of those asking too many questions. As parents, we become frustrated with answering questions from our kids over and over. I actually love little kids who ask a million whys! It’s like a game to see how far I can string them along.
As we look at talent, especially this spring, in trying to decide between a bunch of entry-level talent that all looks the same on paper, I believe those who are curious need more consideration. The world is filled with people who will follow commands and not ask why. What we need is a few more people asking why.