I think of myself as quite a curious person (curious as in somebody who asks lots of questions, rather than being a bit odd!). I’m interested in lots of ‘stuff’ and have been privileged to be able to explore my varied interests very thoroughly; there is no such thing as a ‘quick’ visit to a museum, library or bookshop in the Cheema household.
This curiosity is not limited to my personal life; I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been encouraged to push my boundaries and explore new avenues in the world of work. I have a working knowledge of how to group ceasarean deliveries into clinically meaningful subgroups, understand the warning signs of sepsis and have explored the possibility of predicting required flow rate of ambulatory oxygen in COPD patients- not bad for a jobbing information analyst.
Reflecting on this a bit, it hasn’t always been the case. I guess everyone has had a job which crushes curiosity, either through its repetitive nature (flipping burgers at a well known fast food chain) or perhaps a lack of support, encouragement or interest (delayed transfers data collection and reporting in the early noughties). In these instances, I hadn’t stopped being curious elsewhere in my life, but I wasn’t curious about my work. It was just, well, work.
I was surprised to learn today that there is a separate, validated measurement instrument for workplace curiosity, as opposed to what we could term ‘general’ curiosity. The two do correlate, but there was a clear requirement in the minds of the team who developed it to think about curiosity as a desirable trait in the specific context of work.
Last time I mused on whether we are too busy to be curious; perhaps we can refine that slightly. Are we too busy to be curious at work? Does work, in the traditional sense, stifle our natural curiousity? And if so, what can we do to liberate it?