Curiosity Revisited

March 4, 2021 - Pastor Bill Mitchell

Curiosity Revisited

Pastor Bill Mitchell
March 4, 2021

Listen, learn, lead. These are some of the foundational lessons we teach here at BocaLead. But how do we do these things in such volatile times, when virtually no one has had prior experience in dealing with a worldwide pandemic that has disrupted business and life as we know it?

Our answer: Curiosity.

To lead effectively, we have to have the curiosity to listen to others and learn from what is being said, then take what we’ve learned and act upon it. If we start with curiosity, a whole world will open in front of us that wasn’t there before.

In resolving conflict and finding creative solutions to the problems in front of us, Curiosity is key. That’s why this concept is the focus of this month’s BocaLead session.

In order to learn what curiosity is, let’s first take a look at what it isn’t. The opposite of curiosity is incuriosity. Incuriosity is saying:

1. That will never work here,
2. That’s not what my experience has shown.
3. That’s too complicated. Let’s not overthink it.
4. That’s the way we have always done it.
5. We can’t solve this problem.

The true definition of curiosity: a strong desire to know or learn something and to act on it. To demonstrate this using the phrases above, instead of saying, “That will never work here,” a curious person would say, “Let’s look at how that might work.” Instead of saying, “That’s the way we have always done it,” someone with curiosity would say, “This is the way we’ve done it, but perhaps we can improve or change our methods. Let’s find out how.”

Four Ways Curiosity is used:

1. Curiosity and Confidence

Our level of curiosity about ourselves and the world impacts our level of confidence.

2. Curiosity and Competence

The greater curiosity we have about our job or role, the more we will learn, our skills and abilities will improve, and our competence will increase.

3. Curiosity and Conflict

We face conflict with curiosity by first asking questions, which leads to better solutions.

4. Curiosity and Conversation

Being curious- showing genuine interest, asking questions, and listening- leads to better conversations.

The relationship between curiosity, competence, confidence, and humility is illustrated in the graph below.


In the top section is the Armchair Quarterback Syndrome (where everyone in the stands is smarter than all those on the field). This syndrome appears in those who think they know more than they do, even though they’re not even in “the game.” This happens when confidence exceeds competence. On the flip side is Imposter Syndrome. This syndrome appears in those who may be highly effective in the company, but who believe they have no abilities and think they don’t belong there. Those who have imposter syndrome have high competency, but no confidence.

In the middle of the graph, you see humility. Many people confuse humility with false modesty. They believe being humble is responding to a compliment by saying, “Oh I’m not that great,” or, “It’s nothing,” when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. True humility is the proper understanding of your gifts, talents, and skills, and having the ability to use them in the best way to help you and your team, company, or family. Humility is not denying your incredible abilities, but rather being gracious about your skills, and using them for others’ good. The more you cultivate humility and curiosity, the greater understanding you will have of your skills and abilities, and the more accurate picture you will have of yourself.

The way you can apply this graph to your company or organization is to first find where you and your team fall on the graph. Do any of you have more confidence than your abilities dictate you should? Are you actually pretty skilled, but you just need a little confidence boost? Having the curiosity to ask these questions and the humility to answer them honestly will enable you to better lead, encourage, and develop each member of your team.


Curiosity and Conversation – How Not to Do It

1. “Let’s just forget about the problem.”

Saying this is a refusal to deal with the issue, or even to acknowledge that the issue even exists. This lack of curiosity often leads to the issue continuing to bubble under the surface, causing other problems.

2. “I have a personal peace about the situation.”

Although those who say this may truly have peace with the issue, those who are bringing up the problem often do not. As a leader, having the curiosity to listen to your team’s concerns will increase your team’s trust in you and let them know you’re in this together.

3. “Let’s agree to disagree.”

This statement may work when discussing politics, governmental policies, or other controversial issues, where you know you’re just not going to see eye to eye. In business, however, this statement doesn’t work because you’re supposed to all be on the same team, working together for the good of the company. As the leader, you must be curious to learn others’ viewpoints in order to attain resolution.

4. Being a peacekeeper rather than a peacemaker.

A peacekeeper serves to keep conflict from boiling over. It’s still there, but it hasn’t turned into an all-out war. Again, the curiosity and resolve to find a solution is lacking.

On the other hand, Peacemakers aim to resolve the issues and bring people into right relationship with one another.

5. Détente: “I’ll agree not to destroy you if you agree not to destroy me.”

In this scenario, nothing is resolved. There’s no trust. The battle has just ceased for a time.

Curiosity and Conflict in Negotiation

1. Common Ground

In negotiation, finding common ground is the best and easiest way for everyone to walk away from the table happy. Discovering where your interests and the other party’s interests meet leads to a better relationship.

2.Proofs and Reasons – Debate

In a debate, someone always wins and someone always loses. If you turn your negotiation into a debate, one party will lose and walk away unhappy, and your relationship will be broken.

3. Defend and Attack – War

We’ve seen over and over again throughout history that in war, everyone loses. If you’re in negotiation with a competitor and you take this approach, you may get the client, but in the process, you’ve destroyed the relationship with your competitor.

4. Ask Questions and Listen – Dance

Being willing to be curious gives each of you a platform for success. This is the approach we here at BocaLead believe in taking – get to know each other, ask questions, listen and learn so we can join together to make our community a better place to live, work, worship and play.


Now more than ever, we must learn to be curious, to improve our mobility, and to find creative solutions in our businesses and organizations. Holding on to what we did in the past just because it’s what “we’ve always done,” will stunt our growth both personally and professionally. As we end this BocaLead session, we want to encourage you to be curious, find creative solutions, and share what you’ve learned when we come back together next month.


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