There was a great article in the New York Times a while back. Adam Bryant, author of the weekly Corner Office column, compiled the information he garnered from interviewing top C.E.O.’s to explore traits common to successful corporate leaders. One trait he identified was “passionate curiosity.”

Coined by Neil Minow, co-founder of the Corporate Library, passionate curiosity is the desire to, I should say the need to – know the how, the what and the why of everything. C.E.O.’s aren’t necessarily the smartest people in the room, Bryant explained. However, they are truly passionate about all aspects of their business. He likened the quality to a curious child. What if I did it a different way? How can I change it to make it better, faster, quicker, more profitable?

Passionately curious leaders are adamant about hiring like-minded employees. While it’s not necessarily easy to identify this type of long-term, sustainable energy in a candidate, the C.E.O.’s interviewed did identify 3 primary keys:

  • How do they deal with adversity?
  • Do they challenge the status quo?
  • Do they take ownership of the job?

Are you passionately curious? I find a lot of my clients start their businesses or jobs with that deep in- their- gut type of drive, only to have it fade over time. The intensity of a long-term business commitment can erode passion: the minutia of day to day operations, tough times, lost clients and difficult employees can all cause our energy to ebb.

The key to success through passionate curiosity is sustainability. What can you do to maintain high levels of passion about your job or business?

First, you need to take ownership of the fact that you are responsible for maintaining your passion. If you don’t nurture yourself, it won’t be hard to let employees, clients or colleagues suck you dry.

Keep yourself inspired

Whether it’s through reading, keeping a journal, trying new experiments with your business or hobbies, keep a constant flow of new information and experiences going that will help trigger ideas and new perspectives.

Make “What if?” your favorite question

What if I hired a different person to do that job? What if I bundled my products differently? What if I changed my work flow? Consistent questioning of your concept and processes will lead you to new and better solutions.

Find passion partners – (no, not that kind)

Identify friends and colleagues who are, in your opinion, passionately curious. Arrange to meet with them on a regular basis and use these meetings as forums where participants are invited to throw out the biggest, best and dumbest ideas. No judgments allowed. You’ll all share tremendous energy and inspiration.

Allow yourself time away from the day- to- day minutia

The biggest killer of big thinking is the mundane. If you can, delegate some of the daily chores. If you can’t, schedule time to get away from them. Even if you take an hour a week to think quietly and create, you will reap the rewards of big picture thinking and keep yourself on your toes.

Whether you own your company or work for someone else, we are all the “boss” of our destiny and success. Nurture your passionate curiosity to help you play at the highest level.