5 reasons why curiosity is good for you - Michelle Gibbings

Curiosity – it’s a simple concept in many respects. And yet it is something we find harder to do as we get older.

It’s almost as though it is abandoned for the comfort and safety of wanting to have all the answers.

We stop questioning. We base decisions on assumptions, hunches and past experience. We stop seeing exploration as a good use of time, and instead want to get to the answer as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Curious catIt also becomes harder to say those three little words – “I don’t know”.

Why? Because we are conditioned at school and work to believe that being a leader is about knowing more than others and having the answers at our fingertips. We think it is about being in control and certain of our actions.

This approach enforces the notion that it is better to be certain than to be unsure. That it is better to know than to not know. And of course, there’s the expression: “Curiosity killed the cat”.  An expression that implies that experimentation, playing, investigating and wonder is not good for you.

All ideas in today’s ever-changing and complex world, which are incredibly unhelpful.

So, here’s 5 reasons why curiosity is good for you.

  1. Builds your leadership brand– real leaders are open to questioning and happy to admit what they don’t know. They know that providing the opportunity for their team members to share their ideas and to contribute to the discussion will lead to better organisational outcomes.
  1. Builds new neural pathways– remember the delight you experienced as a child when you did something for the first time. It’s the same with curiosity. When you discover something for the first time and try something new it lights up new pathways in the brain. It’s just like taking your brain to the gym. You are giving it a work-out!
  1. Builds better relationships – when you are curious about a person’s behaviour you can be more open to wondering what is driving their behaviour and what is triggering a reaction in you. This approach allows you to be open to what is happening and therefore suspend judgement. This is necessary if you are to really hear what the other person is saying, and be open to different points of view. All of which are essential for good relationships.
  1. Expands your frame of reference– Curiosity enables you to question with interest and compassion. It isn’t judgemental or about finding fault. It helps you expand your frame of reference, which in turn helps you to generate insight and understanding, and consequently make better decisions.
  1. Helps you better understand yourself –Being curious as to what drives your own thought processes, reactions and actions enables you to better manage how you react in any given moment. This is mindfulness in action, which is scientifically proven to help you make better decisions and manage stress.

So don’t hold yourself back from being curious. Run towards it. Embrace it. Have fun with it. You never quite know where you will land.


Michelle Gibbings is the author of Step Up: How to build your influence at work.  She is known for making the complex, simple.  She helps people to think more deliberately, act with greater purpose and accelerate progress by understanding the art and science of human behaviour.  

e: michelle@changemeridian.com.au