I’ve spent time over the first half of this year being curious. Wondering how things will fall, exploring options and having conversations without a specific end in mind beyond finding things out. And, as is the way I’ve found when I start paying attention to something, the idea of curiosity has popped up in a variety of places.

While not a big fan of the self help genre, I have enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. She says that creative living is “living a live that is driven more by curiosity than by fear”.

At the recent AHRI HR in Focus conference one of the speakers urged us to stay curious. My father, a chemistry teacher in his first career, had a classroom mantra “Always ask why.”; something he didn’t always appreciate from his elder daughter! But asking why, and then asking it again, helps us find clarity. This is something parenting has taught me: Always, always ask “why?”, or “what do you mean?” or “where did you hear that?” before answering a question, because very often the answer that springs to mind does not respond to the question your small person is actually asking.

I’ve spent 6 months setting conversations going, exploring possibilities, applying for roles and being disappointed (or relieved) not to be shortlisted, asking “why?”, “why not?”, “why me?” but most of all being curious about where things would lead. And this is what happened…

A one-month opportunity to analyse survey findings and feedback and report to a senior university committee grew into a 10 month contract to complete a really interesting, organisation-wide student orientation project with talented and experienced colleagues. I’ll complete this at the beginning of the 2017 academic year, leaving behind structures, documents and ways of working that will, I plan, be of benefit for future orientation cycles. This timing is perfect as it gives me an opening to begin PhD studies in 2017; something I’ve been thinking about for more than 15 years but haven’t been in a position to pursue.

I’m now very clear and excited about what I am doing into the first quarter of next year. I’m continuing to have conversations to gather advice, find out what I don’t know and make connections. I’m applying to undertake a PhD, and I can see some of the ways these studies and what I will learn, write about and share will help me shape my future career.

There is the saying that “curiosity killed the cat”. Curiosity in my experience doesn’t kill but opens up possibilities.