We underestimate the power of curiosity—it’s the bedrock of learning, imagination, and innovation. Vibrant Faith highlights the primacy of curiosity in our Coaching Schools because it opens ministry leaders up to new insights and opportunities. It creates space for engaging other people’s experiences and helps us more fully understand the context of our lives.
Three things happen when we intentionally reclaim our curiosity:
1. It makes your mind active instead of passive.
Curiosity forces us to be fully present in the moment—open to being challenged and surprised. An active mind prepares us to see connections and possibilities that we may have overlooked.
2. It opens you up to new possibilities for being and doing.
Curiosity assumes that there are actions, ideas, and approaches that have yet to be discovered. It assumes that there is more than one path or approach, and that there might be a better way than how we’re currently doing things. Curiosity helps us avoid latching onto just one or two options rather than seeing several new options to consider.
3. It infuses our life with energy and excitement.
A life filled with curiosity is never boring. There are always new things to explore that capture our attention and pique our interest.
“You Must Become Like Little Children” – Jesus
Curiosity drives the conversations we have with our children. I remember being exhausted by the sheer number of questions my kids asked me when they were growing up. But now, as adults, we typically don’t ask ourselves and others enough “why” and “what if” questions. Let’s reclaim curiosity as an essential element in our life, and invite others to do the same. Let’s invite curiosity to drive our day and spark new ways of living and being. Let’s experience God, friendships, and activities in fresh ways. Curiosity can help us navigate transitions and write the next chapter of our lives.
How to Stimulate Curiosity
To get started, recognize that curiosity is more than a mindset. Like a muscle, it’s a practice that we need to continuously strengthen. Here is a “menu of possibilities” for intentionally stimulating curiosity in your life…
1 | Read less, reflect more.
I often point people to books, blogs, podcasts, and experiments to try to spark creative thinking, but I’m noticing that most people don’t need to consume more content. Instead, they need to create more space in their schedule to digest what they’ve already consumed. New information stimulates our thinking and increases our awareness, but it doesn’t lead to transformation in our lives unless we take time to reflect, digest, discern, and live out our insights.
2 | Note the norms in your life and ministry, then challenge them.
Our norms in life and ministry drive our actions and daily decisions—they bring both delight and energy-drain. Note the routines that shape your daily life. List norms you’ve created related to interactions with your family, connecting with God, the route you take to work, what’s discussed at meetings, what you think about throughout the day, what you eat, etc. Then take one of these norms and ask yourself “what if” questions that give you permission to stop, start, or alter doing something. Every norm in our life and ministry is ripe for reinvention if we’ll take time to notice them, challenge them, and rethink them. Be curious about ways they can be reframed, reformed, or eliminated.
3 | Talk less, listen more.
In Vibrant Faith’s Coaching School, we challenge students to talk less than 20 percent of the time during a coaching conversation so that the coachee/client has more time to share what’s most important to them. It’s hard to be curious if we’re always imparting information to others rather than seeking input from other sources of wisdom. Try asking short, concise, open-ended questions that address what matters most. View each person you encounter as a source of wisdom and knowledge. Take on the posture of a student and allow others to be your teacher. As Stephen Covey suggests in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, seek to understand rather than be understood. View learning and unlearning as a fun and fruitful adventure. Avoid labeling any activity as boring.
4 | Ask better questions that lead to new learning.
Let go of asking close-ended or superficial questions. Ask questions that draw out people’s ideas, intentions, and learnings about life. Think of yourself as a journalist—ask who, what, when, why and how questions. Seek to understand another’s thinking process and approaches. Ask people what they’d do if they were in your situation or what they’d do differently if they could replay a portion of their life.
5 | Walk and talk more often.
Research reveals that walks stimulate your brain and get your creative juices flowing. A walk will activate all your senses. I find that I learn and listen better when I’m moving rather than sitting in chair. I get more out of audiobooks and podcasts when I’m walking that when I’m sitting on the sofa. Exercise help create and sustain a mindset of curiosity.
6 | View settings through new filters.
Curiosity can be enhanced when we look at situations through different points of view. When serving as coach to a congregation, one of the first things I do is view their website through different lenses. I view the site through the lens of a first-time visitor, a teenager or young adult, a person seeking community or spiritual growth, or even a branding consultant. Sometimes I only pay attention to the images on the site, or how easy the site is to navigate. Viewing through multiple lenses enhances my curiosity.
Curiosity is not just for kids. It’s for all of us. It keeps us compassionate and open to change. And from there, anything is possible.
Jim LaDoux is the longtime Director of Coaching & Coaching School for Vibrant Faith. Jim lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife—he has two adult sons. He’s been a coach since 1992, and has a Master of Management Arts and is a certified PCC (Professional Certified Coach).