Change Lab Consulting
Change Lab Consulting

Curiosity versus fear

How often are you curious? I don’t mean pondering over what a new sandwich filling will taste like or a whether that new Netflix series will live up to all the hype, but being actively curious about what might be if we took a step in an unfamiliar direction.


Up until last year, I always worked as an employee, expected to conform to the office norms and mould myself into what was required in order to receive the tick in the box at the awkward end of year review. Working for myself is something I have wanted to do for several years, but fear- of failure, lack of security, and not being part of a well-regarded brand stopped me from making the transition. You may be having similar thoughts when thinking about a change in your career.


Each time I moved job, I suppressed the voice in the back of my head telling me to break free, and create something of my own, until I could not ignore it any longer. When at my latest crossroads, faced with the well-trodden path of returning to corporate life or the wild, thorny unknown path of being self-employed, I decided to make the shift. I won’t use the word ‘leap’ as frankly that sounds far too brave and dramatic for what it actually feels like- the scariest thing I have ever done.


If you are considering a similar transition, or thinking of moving into a different career path, I feel your angst. You know how things work, you know how to settle into the routine, you have help in building a network across the organisation, you have structure. Starting out on a new path is unfamiliar territory and you may feel like you are starting from scratch. 


But why must this be a bad thing?


Think back to when you were a child, when your curiosity knew no bounds. If you wanted to know what something tastes like, you ate it. If you wondered how heavy your pet was, you picked him up no matter how much he wriggled. If you wanted to know what your mother kept in the top cupboard that was out of reach, you found a way to climb up and get to it; you didn’t worry about the bump on your head that might result.


I’m not saying we should all throw caution to the wind, ‘stick it to the man’ and merrily jaunt down the road less travelled, but are you doing yourself an injustice by not considering ‘what if?’


For me, being curious meant asking myself serious questions about how my personal values could be demonstrated in my life, both in and outside of work. This helped me to hone in on what I wanted from my work, and what gave me satisfaction. 


Being curious during my transition has also meant that I am meeting people I never would have met if I had continued living the corporate life. What I’ve discovered is that there are many others who have made a similar transition, and there are people who enjoy co-creating and doing the work that makes them feel at their best. (To read more about curiosity, I recommend Not Knowing, by D’Souza and Renner).


If you’ve read this far, then maybe the voice in the back of your head is getting louder. Will you tune it out, or will you listen to what it has to say?


Curiosity: a strong desire to know or learn something


Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by threat of danger, pain or harm


From the definitions above, curiosity sounds like much more fun!


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