Are You Curious?

You’ve heard the proverb “Curiosity killed the cat.” Have you heard the less famous second half? The full proverb is “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” As I see it, what revives the cat is the inherent satisfaction of being curious. You could interpret this full proverb in other ways, too. No one has a lock on the right answer. In fact, that’s my theme this week: the value of hanging out in curiosity, not always pressing for answers.

What got me thinking about this was a workshop I conducted last week for one of my favorite clients. Well, they’re all favorites. This group is particularly fun. Our exercise is to devise a full content marketing strategy. People work in teams, with each team creating a pitch to make to the rest of the class (who represent the CEO), and the best strategy is voted on. Each team only has 45 minutes to create its strategy.

Of course that’s not nearly enough time to get the answers needed for a full strategy. The team have to make up much of the information. One of the team leads came up to me at the mid-point and pointed this out to me. She said, “There’s no way we can get answers to all the questions you have up on the screen.”

I said, “That’s the point! The whole spirit of this day’s exercise is not to get pat answers – it’s to revel in the questions.”

In our day to day jobs, it’s hard to practice curiosity, to appreciate the merits of a curious state. We are paid to know things, to find answers. We’re trained to operate in answer mode and to get to an output as rapidly as possible. We seem to be wired for this. We need to know. Now.

Today, we’ve become so conditioned to instant answers that we don’t have to stay curious for more than a millisecond. Ironically, that can make us sad. Literally. Scientists have found that when we’re in a curious state, parts of our brain that regulate pleasure and reward light up. Curious minds also show increased activity in the hippocampus, an area that’s involved in the creation of memories. So when you’re curious, you’re not only happier in the moment but you’re also creating memories of that happiness to recall later.

So from time to time, instead of scrambling for an answer, allow yourself to indulge in questioning. What if there is no right answer? Instead of consulting Google, or a template, or best practices, or what we did before, or Billy the IT answer guy, let yourself wonder.

You good with that? Don’t answer just yet.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.