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Curious? OK so I’m not talking about catastrophic failure, but like exercise, controlled failure, little and often can lead not only to innovation, but also to joy. Just take a moment to have a think about a moment in your life when you discovered something new, when you saw something amazing in nature or tried something for the first time. That heady mix of adrenaline, pleasure and WOW! is the result of a mixture of hormones that are the most potent of all the feel good neurotransmitters. Curiosity feels great so why do we become less curious as we grow up and how can we reclaim our curiosity?
From the first time you get told NO! by your parents, most of us learn to avoid the negative feelings associated with failure. The older we get, the more risk averse we tend to be. We become masters of straight-jacketing our curiosity and being controlled by fear of failure. This not only limits our chances to be curious but also our creativity and ability to innovate.
So how can we reclaim our curiosity? My suggestion is to start small. In 2019 Curiosity Box had a very tough year. We nearly ran out of cash and I spent most of the year worrying about whether I could pay my team. I was full of fear and I burnt out. A big part of my recovery was mushrooms, perhaps not in the way you might be thinking! I took to the woods and started slowing down, taking pleasure in the small things and discovering an AMAZING world of fungi on our forest floor. My curiosity reignited and my worrying brain was able to disengage. Taking a small amount of time to let myself be free to be curious has become a critical part of my recovery and ongoing mental health.
I hope it doesn’t take you getting to burn out point to discover your curiosity. I hope this will be enough to spark your desire to try something new or a secret thing you have wanted to try, but have been holding back from. You can kickstart the change with this Curiosity Cycle.
You can apply the Curiosity Cycle to just about everything in life in and outside of the workplace. It gives us a safe framework to try things out with the expectation that the result will be imperfect. In fact imperfection is celebrated because there is so much joy in trying it out in the first place, and it may just help you rediscover the joy and freedom of playing without expectation.