What’s your Curiosity Quotient?

Change is the only constant in our life. The pace of change is ever increasing. We are living in an “age of complexity”.

You’ve probably heard these phrases many times. But one can only assent to them. Change is part of our life. Change is part of our society. Change is part of economics. Change is part of nature. No one else formulated it better than Charles Darwin: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change”. One could talk about that as AFQ or Adaptive Fitness Quotient: the degree to which someone is capable of adapting to continuous change in a proactive, flexible and continuous way.

In business talk, this becomes for instance “Curiosity is as important as intelligence”.  Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes in a blog on the Harvard Business Review website about the rapid pace of technological changes, and the complexity it generates. However, for him the question “Is this era more complex?” is not relevant. Instead he asks himself the question “Why are some people more able to manage complexity?” Although complexity is context-dependent, it is also determined by a person’s disposition.

He sees three key qualities that enhance our ability to manage complexity. IQ, EQ and CQ.

What IQ stands for is clear. EQ stands for emotional quotient and concerns our ability to perceive, control, and express emotions. EQ is a key ingredient of interpersonal skills. Most employers and customers are not only looking for technical expertise, but for soft skills as well. CQ stands for curiosity quotient and concerns having a hungry mind. People with higher CQ are more open to new ideas, new experiences and new knowledge. CQ it is just as important when it comes to managing complexity and coping with change. CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time. Although IQ is hard to coach, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic concludes with the observation that EQ and CQ can be developed. As a marginal note, EQ and CQ have a positive effect on stress mastering and avoiding burn-outs.

In fact, the term curiosity quotient is put forth by Thomas L. Friedman – author of the book The world is flat: a brief history of the twenty-first century – as part of an illustrative formula CQ + PQ > IQ to explain how motivated individuals can learn about a personally interesting subject, whether or not they possess a particularly high IQ.  In this metaphorical formula PQ stands for passion quotient. Thomas Friedman states that when curiosity is paired with passion in the exploration of a subject of interest, an individual may be able to acquire an amount of knowledge comparable that of a person who is exceptionally intelligent. In other words, curiosity and passion are key components for personal growth in a world where information is readily available to everyone and where global markets reward those who are self-motivated to learn.

Therefor it’s important to know one’s personal interests, passions and vision; both from private and professional perspectives. Some food for thought in that context could be the following questions:

  • Am I prepared to no longer look at my life in terms of what it is or was, but of what it can be? Do I no longer look at the organization in terms of what it is or was, but of what it can be?
  • Do I have my own vision of life? Does my team have a vision? Do I understand and support the vision of my organization?
  • Do you no longer consider yourself a victim of change caused by nature or society or economics, but an individual capable of proactively developing yourself, your team and your organization towards the corresponding visions?
  • Do you distribute your knowledge to support your colleagues’ learning?
  • How can I increase my competencies and self-confidence?
  • How can I increase my independence?

Adaptive Fitness Quotient or Curiosity Quotient or whatever, we must learn how to aim at targets that move quicker and quicker, how to ski on avalanches of change that get bigger and bigger and how to surf on waves of change that get higher and higher. I don’t remember where I picked up this one, but one may find consolation in the following 😉

“Death is balance. Life is resistance to this balance.”