Values Deep Dive | Curiosity (Part 3)
by Bets Charmelus, ArtistYear CEO
Reflecting on curiosity these few weeks has offered me so much to think about (check out the blog posts here and here if you want to catch up). Specifically, I’ve been thinking about why an organization (like ArtistYear) has values, and what they mean in terms of individual and organizational responsibility.
Organizational values are crucial as they define our identity and guide our actions and decisions. They help cultivate workplace culture, enhance staff engagement and boost overall performance. By setting clear values, we can paint a clear picture of the type of non-profit we want to be and the type of service we want to do. When we say one of our values is curiosity, we are committing to asking questions – for ourselves and others – and understanding that we may not find answers right away in pursuit of our mission.
Our values inform some level of personal responsibility; as high level and abstract as “organizational values” may be, they do not absolve us from doing the everyday work on a personal level necessary to be better people. Organizational values are not excuses created to distract from the reality of how we’ve been individually programmed in this society. This can shed a light on how certain characteristics within us can overlap. For example, it is possible to be both curious and harmful in a variety of ways. Ever met a really mean but strangely curious person? These are the people who are interrogative, asking invasive or passive aggressive questions for some ulterior motive. There are people who are both curious and inconsiderate; this is what we call being “nosy.” It is possible for a person to be both curious and racist. It is possible for a person to be both curious and misogynistic. It is possible for a person to weaponize curiosity into violence.
This doesn’t mean that once we’ve been socialized to exist a particular way in the world that we’re doomed to be that way forever. Curiosity implies a standard of continuous learning, which can lead to ethical exploration, and fostering an open and inclusive environment where questioning and discovery are encouraged. Curiosity can be the key that opens the door to a better way of being; curiosity can be the catalyst to radical self-transformation.
This is why ArtistYear has curiosity as one of its four core values; we embrace the hope that curiosity offers, using it as part of a road map to define our role in a more understanding and empathetic world.
Bets Charmelus (he/him) is a facilitator, community advocate, and an auditory story-teller. He currently serves as ArtistYear’s Chief Executive Officer. He is passionate about finding & claiming new spaces, building strong, inter-dependent communities, and exploring the difference between questioning oneself and asking oneself questions.