Do This One Thing Fearlessly
In the run-up to The Great Wave, we asked speakers, hub hosts, and friends to don their advice-giving hat and tell us: What’s one thing you would recommend someone do to have a better and more beautiful business?
By Kristina Palovicova
It’s well accepted that curiosity is important in our jobs. Curiosity helps us come up with new ideas, and keeps us feeling alive and more connected to people around us.
But when I look back at the times I’ve done something courageous, jumping into unknown professional waters, I have to credit curiosity there as well. At the time I thought it was because I needed a challenge or a life change. But simply wanting to know what was on the other side, waiting for me, was likely as much a factor. My curiosity was bigger than my fear.
At an age of 18, I left Europe to study in the U.S. I had an opportunity to join a university ski team on scholarship and spend four years in the U.S to get a degree. After finishing school, I traveled with a backpack across countries and continents, working in bars and restaurants. Later on I jumped into cofounding a company in a foreign country.
Curiosity leads us to dive into new cultures and habits, but it’s also how we learn more about ourselves. I was interested to learn as much as I could about the American culture, its people and habits. I said yes to many family dinner invites, different events, to attend church even though I am not religious. Through these experiences I always discovered something new. Sometimes, my friends’ different points-of-view puzzled me. For example, when I experienced American individualism on a personal level for the first time. My car broke down and when I asked my American friends to help me, they all already had plans that they could not change. My European friend was at my side within 15 minutes. On the other hand, the positive “everything is possible” attitude is something I carry through my life ever since living in the U.S., and that’s harder to find in Europe.
Experiences born from curiosity also helped me to understand my values and how they link to where I come from. As explained by Todd Kashdan, curiosity leads to better understanding of the world around us, and to becoming better in connecting different ideas, thus more efficient when making future decisions. Ultimately, curiosity leads to personal growth.
Curiosity has helped me become a better coworker, friend, and leader. Getting to know my colleagues on a personal level makes work much more human, even easier, I would argue, as our personalities—deep down—really shape how we respond to events and workplace challenges. Harvard Business School’s Francesca Gino also found that curious people make fewer decision-making errors, and that being curious improves workplace communication. I always look for different ways to get things done, and that helps us trim budgets while also being more creative.
So next time, when your curiosity overtakes you, don’t suppress it. Explore. Talk to a stranger on the street. Dive into a subject that fascinates you. You might not discover a new business opportunity, or come up with a cutting-edge innovation, but you might be a step closer to those things — or just happier from a well-spent afternoon.
Kristina Palovicova is an entrepreneur, traveler, and retired athlete currently based in Amsterdam. She co-founded Secret City Trails with Wendy van Leeuwen to create meaningful moments of discovery through playful experiences.