A few years back I had the great pleasure of being a part of Richard Branson's team to present at a big conference in Melbourne. I was so excited at the possibility of meeting him (let alone some other big names on the list including Tim Ferris). Anyway, the event arrived and I had a few minutes with Richard waiting in the Speaker room.

Now I had all kinds of things that I wanted to ask him, but I didn't want to seem like a groupie, or to ask him dumb questions that he gets asked all the time. But all of a sudden we are standing and looking at each other. Next thing I know, he is shaking my hand and firing off a pile of questions at me, about what I do. I didn't get time to ask him anything because he wanted to know all about me and what I do as an author, as an entrepreneur, as a speaker (and who I flew with).

At the end of this whirlwind conversation which ended as quickly as it started, and as he was being whisked away by his minders, he looked me in the eye and said "sorry to ask so many questions it's just that I'm curious about everything and everyone." And I realized that was his greatest attribute. He was genuinely curious about everything and everyone and this state of mind creates an incredible awareness on every level.

What resonated the most with my "Branson Encounter" was the fact that I'm exactly the same. I'm deeply curious about everything and everyone and the more I can learn about anything, the happier I am.

So what's the big deal? I think this is a very big deal, especially when we live in a world that is perhaps a little "ME" centric. We have such an incredible amount of information available at our fingertips, but it's only of value if we choose to use it.

Being curious is a skill. I'm pretty certain that when I was 15 I was focused on myself and the calamities and unfairness of my world. But as I grew older, I was surrounded by people who were curious about life and our conversations were thought provoking to say the least. I started to work with entrepreneurs and business owners from a young age, and these people's curiosity manifested with solutions for certain problems and opportunities that their curiosity identified.

The more we use our curiosity, the more we discover the world around us, the people around us and of course ourselves. If I was to be asked what my greatest skill is and what is the one thing that has helped me to be successful, I wouldn't hesitate for a second, because it is most certainly my curiosity.

The reality is that the better we know ourselves, and the more we grow as a human being the more successful we will become in whatever we do. If you're not a naturally curious person, there is no reason at all why you can't learn to be one, it starts with the desire to be a better version of yourself.

You might already be a curious person, perhaps you've just forgotten how, because like most of us, you're caught up in a busy and often crazy world. All it takes is a nudge to head back in the right direction and that often means slowing things down a little, following those sparks of curiosity when your interest is piqued and of course, being genuinely interested in others.

What's the pay off for being curious? Well to me, there are so many payoffs I find it easier to say, what's the downside, and apart from the old saying "curiosity killed the cat", fortunately, we are not cats, there are none. Every single part of my life both personally and professionally is far richer, far more rewarding and far more fascinating because I've nurtured my curiosity.

Specifically, if you are in business, being a little more curious about curiosity will lead to all kinds of opportunities. You will see the world in a different light, you will build stronger relationships with the people you do business with and you will see opportunity everywhere (and it is).

All in all, embracing your inner curiosity seems like a good thing to me. But it might take a little while to get back into the groove if you've been preoccupied with "stuff" for a long time. Look around you and see the kindred curious people in your world. They are the ones that tend to know a lot about many different things, they tend to be quiet, because they are busy learning and observing and they are the people who think differently, in a good way.

Embrace your curiosity and live a curious life and you may find that many things start to change in your world.

Published on: Feb 27, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.