CIO: Curiosity, Interest, and Openness

CIO in organizations is short for the Chief Information Officer. In this blog it is short for curiosity, interest, and openness – my number 2 signature strength. I have a tremendous curiosity about information. This is both a strength and a pursuit that strengthens me.

If you have not taken the signature strength inventory visit: or contact me so that I can refer you to the best resources for the inventory. If you want a quick outline of the possible 24 strengths visit Look near the bottom of that page to click on another page that outlines the VIA classification of six virtues and 24 character strengths.

Remember the purpose of these five posts outlining my signature strengths is to model and encourage you to do the same for your strengths. What a wonderful world we would live in if everyone knew their strengths and made a concentrated effort to apply their strengths each day while encouraging others to apply their strengths.

I also encourage you to visit the newsletters at the authentic happiness website. Ben Dean has composed some insightful newsletters outlining individual strengths. For example, click here to read his newsletter: Curious About Curisosity?

Here are some of the ways I engage my strength of curiosity:

I start my morning off with curiosity and a cup of coffee. I love to scan the newspaper and read a few articles on the Internet. When I don’t take the time to start my day off with one of my strengths I don’t feel quite as effective. Of course, given that humor is my number one strength I am curious to read amusing stories and comic strips.

As a counsellor and a coach, I am very curious about clients. I want to understand their world and help them understand their world better. Curiosity also prevents premature judgment of their perspectives. I love the invitational reminder: Can you transform your judgment into curiosity?

I work for 50 or 60 organizations a year. I love the variety and breadth. I never teach the same course twice even though they often have the same title and goals. Even when I deliver a keynote address there is a part of me that is quite curious about what I am going to say. I know the general topic but the stories and points may spring out of the audience reactions.

My work has been enriched by the ability to visit so many different workplaces from an underground gold mine in Snow Lake to call centres in Winnipeg to Hydro dams in Northern Manitoba to a wide range of offices and factories. I gather energy by seeing where people work and how they go about their jobs.

I love to read blogs and subscribe to over 100 blogs. I also love books and I may have up to 40 books out from the library at any one time. For some people this would be a burden while for me it feeds my curiosity, happiness, and engagement.

I have designed resources and curriculum for workplace appreciation and recognition programs. I think the willingness to be curious about others is what makes recognition effective. We pay closer attention to others and realize that each person is unique and will respond to different methods and expressions of recognition. One of the most effective ways to effectively recognize others is to simply ask them how they would like to be recognized. It amazes me to see how reticent we sometimes are to take this small yet significant step.

At 51, I am much more comfortable with not-knowing. I believe not-knowing or ignorance is the seed of curiosity. Neil Postman, a critic of schooling, once said that children enter school as question marks and leave as periods. I strive to reinstall the question in the way I look at the world. I love the work of Ellen Langer on mindfulness and the work of Richard Saul Wurman on information. Langer and Wurman have demonstrated the importance of curiosity in fostering mindfulness and communicating complex information.
As a teacher and a leader my actions frequently stem from genuine curiosity. Curiosity prevents boredom and facilitates seeing the world afresh each new day.

Curiosity is my second signature strength. I feel more alive and engaged when I consciously use this strength and offer it as a gift to others. I encourage you to be curious, open, and interested in your own strengths. Continual curiosity about your strengths might be one of the chief sources of information and action to install happiness and engagement into your career.

Next article: Creativity – From Bisociation to Neckar Cubes.

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