Thursday, November 06, 2014

What's killing your curiosity?

We've all heard that curiosity killed the cat. That's a problem because what we should all know is that many great thinkers (and achievers) attribute their success to their curiosity.


Curiosity is an amazing motivator. It allows us to explore the big picture and the fine details with great intensity and no sense of suffering. As long as we are following our curiosity, we are happy to work endlessly at a problem, to take a break just long enough for inspiration, and then to return for more exploration and experimentation.

Curiosity will not break you. It will be the making of you.

When I teach college classes, my heart breaks a little at how hard it is to awaken their curiosity. After years of being taught to sit still and listen, they have stopped being distracted by their own passion and curiosity. Instead of asking wildly tangential questions that might lead to innovation and understanding, they check out of the subject and into social media. That wouldn't be awful if there was food for their curiosity on the sites they prowl, but that's not often the case.

We have systematically drilled the curiosity out of people because we are deathly afraid of distraction. Think of all the articles you have read about how much time people waste at work. Isn't that what happens when you let your curiosity drive your thinking?

It's only a small piece of a large and moving picture. What happens when we let our curiosity drive is that we take long and winding roads to new destinations. We learn. We grow. We are surprised. And we become persistent explorers and students of what really works.

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