People often come to me and say, “I’m just interested in too many things!” They believe that they are unfocused, indecisive and even broken. That this is some sort of character flaw.
Well, this is crap. And it breaks my heart (slash pisses me off) that we’ve made this into a “problem” and an “impediment” to our careers.
Your curiosity isn’t there to distract you.
It’s not meant to confuse you, or screw you up, or throw you off course.
It’s meant to guide you, and lead you, and show you the way.
It is essential data and information and it is meant to be followed.
I’ve given this a fancy name (and yes, an acronym): The Purpose Proxy Principle (PPP).
The Purpose Proxy Principle says that your curiosity is the best proxy you have for your purpose.
And, yet, we have a really, really hard time trusting our curiosity.
So many people went to college curious about one thing and then feeling that it was “impractical” for “real life” majored in something else that they lacked any curiosity for. We all know a math-lover who ended up being a history major thinking that that would be a better path to law school, or the poet who majored in business or marketing.
There are 2 analogies I love to talk about when examining “curiosity”, and they happen to be based on two of my favorite things in the world, period: food and sleep. (#Taurus)
Like hunger is meant to show you when you need nourishment, curiosity is meant to show you when you need fulfillment. Like cravings are meant to show you where the nourishment is, curiosity is meant to show you where the purpose is.
We often talk about “sleep debt”, where if someone has been under-sleeping for decades, and they let themselves sleep unscheduled, they complain that all they do is sleep! And how inconvenient it is! However, we know this won’t last forever, once your body has recalibrated.
Similarly, we have a “curiosity debt”. We’ve spent so long ignoring our curiosity, in favor of efficiently achieving our goals and 10-year plans, that when we let ourselves explore and invest in our curiosity, I often hear complaints of “all I do is dabble! I’m so unfocused and it’s so inconvenient!”
However, I assure you that this, too, won’t last forever, once your inner GPS, your intuition, has recalibrated. It’s just the beginning, the reset, the detox.
The brilliant therapist Esther Perel talks about the “erotic”, which she defines broadly as the quality of aliveness, and of which curiosity is the main element. She describes the erotic and its accompanying curiosity, as “the antidote to death”.
From this lens, if curiosity is banned from “career”, then our careers are essentially where we go to die.
…which makes sense because, well, that’s exactly what my career felt like to me, and so many others who come to me.
Borrowing from another intellectual of our time, the great Justin Timberlake…we need to bring curiosity back.
Our lives depend on it.
When was the first time you began to view your curiosity as a “distraction”?
What are you curious about that you’ve sidelined in order to “stay focused”?
When was the last time you felt really alive? Was there curiosity present in that moment?
What is one place your curiosity might lead you, if you let it?
If you’re wondering what to do instead, check out my top 10 tips for building a conscious career.
OR, if you’re wondering why you suffering from “imposter syndrome”, go here!