Over the last 10 years, I’ve been employed by six companies/organizations… seven if you count being self-employed as I am now.
These roles have been everything from full-time permanent, short-term co-op positions, and part-time contract work. They’ve spanned industries including professional sports, church ministry, higher education, government, and the daycare field.
I’ve written previously about my chaotic career path, but have been reflecting on it again more recently.
You see, not only have I held a bunch of jobs, but I’ve liked a bunch of them. Did well in a variety of roles. Enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills and knowledge in each role.
My question is—why?
I’m not highly skilled in any of these areas, really.
I didn’t go to school for management, writing, or communication.
I’m fairly risk-averse and enjoy routines—change can be hard for me.
But I think the main reason I’ve been able to move through a number of jobs and careers is that I have a transferable skill that allows me to succeed in different environments: curiosity.
How Do I Know I’m Curious?
A lot of people are curious and interested in a variety of things—I’m not alone there. But I’ve learned more about my own personality and character to now view curiosity as one important core pillar in my life.
How do I know this? Well, personality tests told me so. I LOVE them. Here are three examples related to curiosity:
- I’m a type 9 on the Enneagram—the type that sees all sides of a situation. The type that thinks they are a little bit like every other type because they can relate. I think this uniquely positions me to be curious because I naturally already relate to all sorts of other people and personalities.
- I’m a Questioner in Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Framework—the type that, well, questions. This framework has to do with how you handle expectations. And for Questioners, we will do something when it’s important to us. So asking questions and understanding the “why” is an important motivator.
- I have Wonder and Discernment as my top skills in the Working Genius model—again, the type that asks questions. This is a model that specifically applies to the work world and how people can use their “geniuses” (skills) to support team projects. With “wonder” as my main skill, I’m able to ponder and question the possibilities of opportunities.
Now, let me be clear—these are not the be-all-end-all answers. Each individual is unique and their own person, more complex than these tests can say. And yet, they help us learn more about ourselves and how we move through the world.
And besides these tests, there are some real-life ways curiosity shows up. These are some pretty common phrases you’ll hear me say:
- “I wonder why…”
- “I just found this cool account on Instagram and learned that…” (my friend recently called me out on doing this all the time!)
- “Oh, that’s cool! I heard a podcast about XYZ—I think you’d like it.”
- “I don’t understand why…”
- “Tell me more about…”
So What? Why Curiosity is a Good Transferable Skill
There are a lot of excellent transferable skills that professionals of all stripes can benefit from. Communication, conflict management, and teamwork all come to mind! But these are some of the more obvious and oft-talked-about skills out there.
Curiosity is underrated. And yet, it’s so valuable to our lives. Curiosity also cultivates a lot of the skills, abilities, and characteristics that are typically viewed as valuable. This article sums up well—curiosity is beneficial because it helps us:
- Be better problem-solvers
- Overcome fears by not avoiding the unknown
- Develop empathy for people who are different from us
- Increase our knowledge
- Stay humble—the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know!
- Increase self-awareness
I think one reason curiosity has helped me build a freelance writing business over the last year is that it drives me to say, “yes,” more often than “no.” I work primarily on fiverr, a freelance platform, where clients in a variety of industries are looking for work. Instead of avoiding topics I know nothing about, I lean into the opportunity to learn something new (within reason, of course! Not trying to masquerade as an expert biomechanical engineer or something).
Are There Any Downsides to Curiosity?
Curiosity has a lot of benefits. But let’s be real—everything has a downside, too.
I’ve observed two in my life:
- Moving on to something new too quickly (or, getting bored quickly). I have a lot of varied interests, but not a lot of deep interests. I admire people who love something so much that they devote their lives to gaining knowledge or skill in a certain area. I admire people who are passionate about their careers and spend years or decades honing skills.
- Thinking I’m an expert after learning about something for two seconds. I mean, I know I’m not an expert, but I have a tendency to get interested in something, do some research, and then start parroting my newfound knowledge to others. But I need to constantly remind myself that just because I listened to one podcast doesn’t mean I know much!
I will let curiosity drive me and help me adapt to new situations and experiences. But I will also remember that many things also require deep knowledge and commitment in order to grow and learn.
So, I’m curious—what are your thoughts on curiosity?