Warm Up: First, on a piece of paper, spend the next 2 minutes jotting down different ways you can use a brick. Then, continue reading.
Have you ever wondered why curiosity killed the cat? Likely intended to warn children of the dangers of being nosey, curiosity is a key ingredient in learning and is essential for human growth and development. And, for those of us in church leadership, curiosity can help us approach problem solving in an increasingly complex world.
Most of us would agree that children are naturally curious but in fact everyone possesses curiosity, it simply changes as we age. As children, we learn about the world around us through our senses—feeling, smelling and listening to our environment. It’s why kids ask the perpetual “Why?” questions. As we grow older, we strive for more safety and control in our environment and our curiosity is based on a quest for knowledge. We move away from experimentation and novelty to those experiences that pose less risk. But, it’s the childlike curiosity and wonder that generates new ideas and creativity. In a changing leadership environment, we simply must be curious.
3 tips to foster curiosity in your own life:
How do we grow our curiosity? It’s as simple as choosing to be curious. For many adults, it has to be cultivated. Here are three ways you can lean into a curious mindset:
1. Be unafraid. One thing creative people have in common: they’ve developed the ability to ask good questions. Think about the places and spaces where you encounter others and develop some easy open-ended questions. Instead of asking a student “What are you studying?” consider asking: “If school was canceled for a month and you could go and do anything you wanted, what would you do?”
And if you’re still afraid, get a friend to practice asking open-ended questions. Then, try it out at your next team meeting or in a small group and see how it goes.
2. Embrace the mess. Curiosity is necessarily relational. Sure, you can read a book about homelessness but it’s getting outside and experiencing the stories of others that fosters problem solving and new ideas. Consider starting with topics you’re already interested in: coffee, gardening, animals, or perhaps leadership development. Find out who’s talking about these things and make an appointment to learn with them.
3. Strive for empathy. Curiosity is a judgment free zone. When we are curious about others and talk to people outside our normal social circle, we become better friends and neighbors. Be gentle with yourself as you take steps to listen to others. The goal isn’t problem-solving; it’s to expand wonder and see the world with a new lens. Change up the question from: “What should we do?” to “What COULD we do?”
Take Away: Creativity and Curiosity go hand in hand. If we choose to be curious, we have to have practice and encouragement to begin.
At the beginning of this post, you participated in the world’s first creativity test. JP Guilford is the father of modern creativity and he developed a creativity test to determine a way to select the most suitable pilots for the US Air Force. He reasoned that creative candidates could improvise and come up with unexpected solutions.
At your next team meeting, ask members to take 3 minutes to jot down different ways to use a brick. Once everyone has created their own list, share ideas around the table. You’ll be surprised how working collaboratively on an innocent topic like bricks can unlock creative potential within your team.
Faith Formation Ministries provides congregational faith formation leaders the opportunity to meet in-person or connect digitally or by phone with members of our team and other ministry leaders for coaching and support. Whether it’s a one-time, one-on-one conversation or a long-term peer group, we are here to help. For more information about our regional catalyzer, visit crcna.org/FaithFormation/coaching.