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Incuriosity Killed the Cat

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You’ve heard the phrased “curiosity killed the cat”. It’s an old proverb warning us that being curious about other people’s affairs may get us into trouble. There is a certain wisdom in this but it certainly doesn’t apply to all situations and a lack of curiosity can be an even bigger problem.

We are seeing the biggest changes in business since the industrial revolution. Automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are changing the way work is being done.

Marketing communication has also been impacted as social media and the internet have changed the way we conduct marketing and public relations. Digital mediums have given us opportunities that would make our forefathers jealous.

In today’s world, curiosity is a must. To be incurious will cost you money and it could be the beginning of the end of your business.

A Story of the Incurious

The joke in my family is that I’m not mechanically inclined. My dad encouraged me to take shop in high school. I refused. I wasn’t interested in anything mechanical.

When I moved away from home for the first time, I bought a small TV stand at the store. It probably should have taken about 30 minutes (if even that) to put together. It took me closer to three hours.

When my parents visited me they asked where I got the stand. I told them and then they asked me who put it together. When I told them I did, they looked at the stand with puzzled looks on their faces like, you put this together? On your own? Truth be told, I was as surprised as they were.

I’d had other experiences like this but there was always one thing in common. It took me at least as twice as long as it should have to complete the task. I have always just written it off as I’m not mechanically inclined and it’s one of those things I just accepted as truth.

It’s not a big deal. I run into few situations that require this ability. Of course, I do a good job of avoiding them. I just don’t care how mechanical things work. It’s never been particularly interesting to me.

A Lack of Skill or Incuriosity?

Recently, my parents have been having an issue with their ice maker. Melted ice was falling into their glass instead of frozen ice and it seemed to be constantly jammed. They would clear the jam and later that day it was jammed again.

Over the weekend it was particularly bad. When I took a look at it, I couldn’t even get the ice tray out to clear the jam that that was there. After some time I finally got the ice tray out and I got curious. Why was this happening? How did this thing work?

Long story short, I fixed the ice maker and I did it in less than five minutes. My dad commented, “Maybe you’re mechanically inclined after all.”

I was really proud of myself. Out of everybody, I fixed it. Then I thought, how did the kid who isn’t mechanically inclined fix the icemaker? As I thought about it I realized the difference between this experience and every other experience like it was this time I was curious.

I may be more mechanically inclined than I thought. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have developed and nurtured this skill. I simply lacked the curiosity to develop it.

Curiosity is a Business Skill

In a world full of change, new knowledge and skills are required. The digital revolution demands it so being curious becomes an important business skill. How else are you going to understand all the options that are available to you?

If your not curious about how things work, the chances are good that you will make the wrong decision. Whether it is to ignore Facebook or practice good SEO (search engine optimization), you need to understand what they are and how they work before you can decide if you’re going to use them.

Curiosity leads to knowledge and without knowledge, we are all walking around in the dark without a flashlight. Knowledge is the light we use to help guide our decisions. Sometimes we may only need a little light. Other times we may need a lot of light but without curiosity, we will never have any light.

Final Thoughts

Being curious isn’t always easy because in many cases it’s an admission that we don’t know something or that we need to improve. That can be hard to deal with, especially when you are so supposed to be the expert.

I am constantly having to learn new skills or improve the skills that I already have. The world doesn’t stop moving forward for any of us but those who are curious will find solutions and survive while the incurious will burn out and fade away.

Be curious and seek out the light because it’s hard to walk when it’s completely dark. And, you may accidentally kill the cat.

Shane Carpenter
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