If you subscribe to the axiom that for something to exist it must be measurable (which I do), we have our work cut out for us. Multiple studies have been conducted about curiosity, and numerous tools help us measure its various aspects.
According to behavioral scientists, we have intellectual curiosity, trait curiosity, state curiosity, epistemic curiosity, and perceptual curiosity. Some of us even have the curiosity of chimpanzees under stress. Assessment instruments exist to measure each of these, ranging from simple questionnaires to double-blind assessments. For example, how would you respond to the following?
I get bored easily. Y/N?
I don’t care how it works as long as it works. Y/N?
I love the excitement of the unknown. Y/N?
I like repetition. Y/N?
I prefer word searches to riddles. Y/N?
I’ll try anything once to see what it’s like. Y/N?
I enjoy trying new approaches. Y/N?
If you want to measure your curiosity in a more elaborate fashion, try the Kashdan Scale, the Melbourne Curiosity Inventory, or the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI). Measurements are available for virtually every type of curiosity we may have.
However, that is not the purpose of the Curiosity Code Index.
My goal was not to create another assessment instrument to measure one’s level of curiosity, but to assess what inhibits our curiosity. Why does the natural, childlike curiosity we are born with wane as we age? We know that fear, assumptions, technology, and the environment (FATE) are major factors that influence our curiosity, but which ones affect it a lot and which ones only a little bit, if at all? And by how much?
To fully unleash the leadership and innovation that reside within each of us and within our workforce, we need to know more about these inhibitors. Thus, the two basic hypotheses of this book and the Curiosity Code Index are that:
Curiosity is integral to all we do in life, especially if we do it well. From innovation to creativity, motivation and leadership to leading a meaningful life, curiosity is a critical difference maker that distinguishes between truly living life and merely existing.
Somewhere along that path of life, our curiosity can wane, and we may even go so far as to fall into a rut. Some say this is due to the aging process itself. (It isn’t.) Some say our ability to learn begins to wane naturally as we age. (It doesn’t.) So, what is it that inhibits our curiosity, and how do we get it back?
After years of research and literally thousands of interviews, I have found so many examples that defy the stereotypical assumption that age is the reason we lose our curiosity. It seems that people who are highly successful demonstrate higher levels of curiosity than those who are less successful, no matter what their endeavor or age.
The evidence is clear that people such as Elon Musk, Steve Forbes, Deepak Chopra, and Tony Robbins have taken their curiosity to new heights. Others appear to be more sporadic, less enthused, less curious. So, if it’s not age, and if it’s not physical or mental deterioration, then what is it?
That’s what I endeavored to find out.
The answer, it appeared, was not a function of natural deterioration, but of choice.
I learned that our curiosity remains with us throughout our lives. But like a pair of shoes, we choose if and when to employ it. Better yet, we allow choices to be made for us. I learned that the inhibitors to our curiosity are not as much physical or mental as they are societal.
All of this brought me to the central question: what are those societal forces that lead us to the choice to be curious or incurious? That pursuit ultimately revealed the big four categories of FATE.
After my research, my interviews, and my discussions with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, I had confirmed my conclusions, but they had yet to be proven. They had to be tested. And more important, I had to create a way to measure them.
Earlier, I had become certified to give multiple assessments such as the EQ-i or the MBTI. However, I had never considered creating a valid assessment instrument on my own. And I’m not talking about the kind that determines the best barbeque sauce or your favorite Tom Hanks movie. I’m talking about an assessment that must be scientifically validated and pass muster with theorists, academics, and behavioral scientists.
I couldn’t simply assert that some combination of our fears and assumptions, technology, and our environment are the major factors influencing our curiosity. Which is most prevalent? Is it fear? Is it our environment? Is it some combination of the four? Is it all the above? I had to test and validate my assumptions. After all, weren’t assumptions part of the problem? I needed to become more curious.
The Curiosity Code Index
The Curiosity Code Index (CCI) is designed to help you gain insights into the factors that inhibit your curiosity and to what degree. Only then can you take meaningful steps to overcome those forces and optimize the creativity, motivation, and productivity that allow you to learn, lead, and live most successfully.
The CCI is designed to be used by individuals, companies, and other organizations. The ideal scenario is to train and certify the designees of CEOs, division managers, human resource professionals, and the like to guide their employees through the assessment process.
Then corporations and businesses can formulate a company-wide initiative and strategy to unleash their collective innovation, levels of engagement, and leadership potential.
You will find the Curiosity Code Index to be brief and easy to complete. You might even regard the questions as rather simplistic. However, quite the opposite is true.
Be it fear, assumptions, technology, environment, or a combination, all of us experience factors that affect our curiosity, our interest in exploring, and our creativity. While the questions are seemingly simple and straightforward, each will require thought and can reveal interesting findings.
Your answers will clearly indicate which combination of those factors is the biggest impediment to your curiosity. More important, you’ll learn what you can do about those answers to better your life.
CEOs, business leaders, and entrepreneurs alike say that if they could re-inject their employees with a dose of childlike curiosity, the innovativeness, competitiveness, and success of their businesses would immeasurably improve.
That’s exactly what I hope the CCI can do for you and your company.
Following is a summary of the Curiosity Code Index assessment instrument and how it explores your curiosity with the four stated domains of fear, assumptions, technology, and environment (FATE).
Curiosity Code Index—Fear
The first factor in the CCI is Fear. The assessment explores to what extent you tend to avoid experimenting with new things based on fear of the potential outcome.
Do you hesitate because you don’t want to look foolish? Are you concerned that your interests aren’t in line with what others deem worthy? Or do you relish the excitement of the unknown?
Would you consider yourself to be a risk taker or risk averse? The questionnaire explores how fearful you may be of the risks involved in a potential outcome. That fear blocks your curiosity and desire to explore potential opportunities or new situations.
Be it a fear of failure, fear of the potential outcome, or fear of how others may view us, the Fear quadrant in the CCI explores them all to determine to what extent fear inhibits your curiosity.
Curiosity Code Index—Assumptions
The CCI examines assumptions to assess to what degree preconceived ideas influence your curiosity. Ideas about what works, what doesn’t work, how things work, and how they could work better all affect your curiosity. But do those ideas inhibit your curiosity, and if so, to what extent?
Do you have the self-confidence to make important decisions because you assume you know the outcome? Or do you assume a negative result from trying something new because of a bad experience with something similar in the past?
Do you tend to tell yourself that something is boring, uninteresting, or a waste of time simply because that’s what you’ve been led to believe based on limited exposure? Or do you try it anyway?
Curiosity Code Index—Technology
While technology has opened a world of opportunities, it has also created reliance on it and sometimes fear of it. Do you avoid learning how to operate technology or look at it as an impediment to learning? Or do you welcome the opportunity to learn it for the convenience it provides?
Are you so dependent on social media that you base many of your decisions and choices on what your friends do? Or are you so turned off by social media that you avoid being around people who embrace it?
The internet offers a world of knowledge, but it can be challenging to keep up with all the advances. Do you want to keep up with how all the latest internet innovations work, or would you prefer someone explain them to you?
Having technological skills can be important for career success. Do you hold on to old ways of doing things because they worked well in the past, or do you enjoy embracing changes in technology with proactive preparation?
Curiosity Code Index—Environment
Some of us were fortunate to have parents, teachers, and other adults who allowed us, even encouraged us, to explore. Others may have been shackled by parental and societal beliefs and restrictions.
How did your upbringing and education influence your current modus operandi?
Do you tend to go along with what is expected of you from family, friends, or teachers instead of going in the direction you would naturally head?
Do you tend to avoid trying new things or meeting new people, or do you enjoy that kind of stimulation?
Do you naturally think outside the box unless you’re not rewarded for that thinking or are told not to be difficult? Or do you ignore the opinions of others and do your own thing?
The CCI helps you assess the degree to which your environment has impeded or enhanced your curiosity and creativity.
What if every CEO, division director, business owner, or HR director had their workforce complete this questionnaire? What if afterwards they conducted a review of their findings and their discoveries about themselves?
What if then, in a workshop or brainstorming setting, they created a series of action plans to overcome the barriers they uncovered? And what if they had a systematic way to encourage the fulfillment of those action plans and followed up accordingly?
What if this process resulted in increased productivity, increased levels of engagement, and increased levels of motivation and innovation?
Finally, what if all that translated into an entire workforce that was more engaged and more focused than ever, and a company that was more competitive, more productive, and more successful than most?
Yes, it’s possible.