A few weeks ago for the Whole Life Being website, I wrote a blog about “exploring your curiosity”. I want to share some of the content here since it is important not only in our lives but also in our project management work. After a few less than ideal years, 2011 is so far an amazing year. In April this year, I drove my newly acquired (second hand) motorcycle from Atlanta to San Francisco. Today I arrived back from two weeks in South East Asia. After a few days in Singapore for work, I went to dive the Celebes Sea of Borneo, Malaysia and then climb Mt. Kinabalu (4095m), the tallest mountain in South East Asia.
I feel totally blessed to be able to live my life like this. While exploring Singapore, I have been reflecting on what has gotten me where I am right now in my life. I have never been the “sit still” kind of person, not even as a child. I will have to ask my mom but I am almost sure that in today’s day and age, I would have been labeled ADD as a kid.
Throughout the years I have decided that an “unsatisfiable” curiosity is my driver. I’m curious about other cultures, their history and customs. Curious about what makes other people tick. Curious about the forces of nature, the human body etc. etc. I always want to learn more and also improve my own skills (I think I have 15+ dive certificates). There is always something new to learn or explore.
According to Wikipedia curiosity (from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent, curious,” akin to cura “care”) is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior such as exploration, investigation, and learning. As kids we are super curious which also fuels our creativity; I remember as a kid pulling apart old telephones trying to figure out how they work and putting them back together (sadly not to a working state – it is good I did not pursue a career as an engineer).
Somewhere along our path to adulthood and beyond a lot of us seem to lose touch with our curiosity. We even discourage our children to be curious by telling them “curiosity killed the cat”. Curiosity is what defines the cat!! Not kills it.
Since more than 80% of our work as project manager is about people, having a healthy dose of curiosity is crucial to succeed in our work: what is the real purpose of the project, how is it aligned to the strategic goals of the company (if at all), what motivates the team members on our team, what are the criteria of success of our stakeholders etc. etc. A lot of times we don’t even want to be curious since we are afraid of the unknowns or simply to ask the right, sometimes probing, questions. I want to challenge you to revitalize your curiosity and follow its path. Yes, it is a path of unknowns, however, surrendering to the unknowns allows to tab into the crucial information necessary to run our projects. It also helps us to keep an open-mind and look at issues from different perspectives.
Go explore your curiosity. As Yoda says “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” I would suggest DO; there is little downside.