What is Curiosity?
The word Curiosity originated from a Latin word, cūriōsitās to be “careful, diligent, and curious.” Curiosity then simply is to stay interested in exploring, investigating and learning from observing everything that happens around us.
As a 9 year old, I learnt about curiosity and the infinite possibilities that come out of it when I saw my elder brother experiment with anything and everything he could lay his hands on. My brother, 11 at that time, was always curious and had this burning desire to experiment and understand the mechanics of how things worked.
Let me tell you how it all started. It was a super-hot and sultry summer day at least 3 decades ago and we were all sitting down for family lunch. Back in the day, it was very common for us to experience a power outage and not have the luxury of cool breeze from a fan when you needed it the most. It was one such day and I noticed that my brother had a hand held electric fan and was enjoying the breeze from his newly created masterpiece. It’s been forever, but I still remember how jealous I felt seeing that he had his own fan! A few days prior, I had seen him pull apart an analog alarm clock and had no idea what he was up to. He was secretly building his own battery operated fan using the parts from this analog clock. Back in the day, google didn’t exist. We didn’t have access to “how to” videos on YouTube. All he had was a curious mind and courage to try out and experiment with his ideas. Of course, we also had very supportive parents who allowed us to ask questions, experiment, make mistakes and most importantly stay curious!
Curiosity is your Superpower
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein
According to the author of “A More Beautiful question”, Warren Berger, kids between the ages of 2 and 5 ask 40000 questions on average! Research has shown us that the cornerstone for innovation, creativity and solving critical problems is Curiosity. It’s the super power we can leverage in order to make this world a better place. Now, pause for a moment and think about it, how many questions did you ask yourself in the last day or two? When I think about it, I know that I don’t ask myself at least a fraction of questions that a 4 year old asks.
Here are 7 ways to nurture your Curiosity
Asking questions and asking them often is vital to staying curious. If you think about it, there are so many things we do in our day to day lives without questioning or wondering if there is a better way to do it. I challenge you to pause and question why you are doing what you’re doing and what if you do it differently. Doing this will allow you to re-think and re-imagine a better way of doing things or at a minimum will offer you a few amazing stories of what didn’t work and why.
Curiosity cannot be nurtured in vacuum. We learn by connecting with people who think differently and have unique experiences. During our trip to Scotland last year, our family had some great conversations with our tour guide and without him, we wouldn’t have experienced the exceptionally rich local history. His deep knowledge and his own personal stories weaved into our conversations that went beyond guidebook snippets kept us engaged and enhanced our travel experience. When you get a chance, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation and stay curious!
Explore often and focus on expanding the variety of topics. There’s something to be said about dabbling in a variety of activities to learn what you might like the most. Exploration is like fuel that keeps the curiosity fire going in you. It doesn’t take much to explore though. Simply find something you have never done before and just do it. Pick up a book that you might usually never read, listen to a different type of podcast, travel to a place you’ve never been before. The list is endless and the key here is to step outside of your comfort zone.
Drop the Judgement
"Be curious, not judgmental." -Walt Whitman
Judgement and curiosity are on opposite ends of the spectrum. You can’t unleash the power of curiosity without dropping the judgement. Think about it, if you have a preconceived notion about someone, how open would you be to listening to their perspective? Next time you are tempted to pass judgement while conversing with someone, stop yourself and ask questions to stay curious and understand their perspective.
Practice Technology Timeouts
Often when I'm trying to learn something, I use technology to find answers. While I think the internet has a plethora of information and practically you can solve any problem using the free information available on the internet, I also think it’s not the only way to solve problems. Remember, Einstein didn't have google to answer his questions right? :-) Take a technology break when you are trying to solve a problem and use other resources to build your curiosity mindset.
Push past your fear
Fear can be a major obstacle for us in our pursuit of new experiences. Our worries about failing, not being enough, and being judged cause us to push the breaks on taking action. While it’s impossible to be fearless, embracing a growth mindset and taking action in spite of fear is a powerful way to push past your fears. Curiosity comes with experimenting, keenly observing and learning from failures.
Great discoveries and life changing innovations don’t happen if we don’t push past the status quo. As much as we all love being in a stable and comfortable environment, we also know that transformation happens when we embrace the unknown and figure out unique and creative ways to deal with challenges that are thrown at us in uncertain situations. Note that embracing uncertainty doesn’t mean that you don’t make plans, it just means that we stay flexible. Creating a vision of where you’re headed and taking small steps towards it is vital to achieve success.
Curiosity is a superpower that you can develop and leverage at any point in time. What questions are you asking to bring out the curious version of yourself? How are you staying curious?