“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
— Walt Disney, as quoted in the end credits of Meet the Robinsons.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” ― Dr. Seuss
Former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, described curiosity as “the most useful gift.” However, new research suggests that—although curiosity has many potent benefits—it is actually a double-edged sword with a potential dark side.
Everybody wants to kill your curiosity
From a young age, everybody and everything wants to kill your curiosity and creativity. At least that goes for the most of us. Parents want you to stop asking questions at some point, because they don’t know all the answers and it’s hard to keep Santa alive if you want to know everything about him.
School wants you to obey rules and memorize things more than it wants you to be really curious and open-minded. You are not yet even a teenager when you start hating books, because they are nothing but holders of boring material that you have to memorize and rewrite on tests.
It’s easy to see why curiosity must be killed in a larger system. A larger (social) system is set for masses and if you want to have a working system for a large number of people, there is no room for deviations, curiosity and individualization.
But as you all know, curiosity is more than a commitment to learning. It is also more than the willingness to take risks and have one’s belief’s challenged. Curiosity is a way of looking at the world. It forces our thoughts outward, into the world.
When we view the world through curious eyes, we see the machinery of the universe working around us. Over time, curiosity teaches us to see events in a larger context. And, as we gain perspective, we become happier.
The world around you is like a magnificent library, filled with fascinating stories and useful information. Are you ready to explore? Are you curious about what your life would look like if you could see the world through childlike eyes?
Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, talked about the notion that curiosity can be good for business, an idea that’s not entirely new. He said that Walt Disney declared that his company managed to keep innovating “because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths” .
While conducting research for his book, Berger uncovered numerous examples of leaders and CEOs (including Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Square’s Jack Dorsey, and the team behind Airbnb who relied on a strong curiosity as the foundation for reinventing entire industries. Great leaders simply aren’t satisfied with what they know. They possess an insatiable curiosity for discovery and learning – they are in constant pursuit of what they don’t know.
Now, knowing the importance of curiosity, here are some tips to develop it:
- Keep an open mind
This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and
believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.
- Don’t take things at face value.
If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take
things at face value. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.
- Ask questions relentlessly
A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was
it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are
the best friends of curious people.
- Don’t label something as boring
Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call
something boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to
explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.