Tag: curiosity

Are You Curious?

How curious are you?

In his book The Human Edge, Greg Orme gives a simple but extremely powerful example of curiosity.

We are related to a single woman who lived in East Africa around two hundred thousand years ago. About seventy thousand years ago, a descendent of this woman gazed across the Red Sea and thought ‘I wonder what is on the other side?’ These early pioneers were so curious that they decided to find out. The rest is, as they say, history.

Since that time curiosity has been part of human nature and it has supposedly even managed to kill a cat or two!

In rich countries, the life expectancy of young people could soon be 100+ years. How can we work in the same industry, have the same interests for a working life of perhaps 60 years?

We should follow the example of a famously poor student, Albert Einstein. He himself stated that he had no special talents apart from being insanely curious.

We all learn better when we are interested in a subject but it seems that curiosity helps you to learn even when you do not find a subject either interesting or important. A final point in favour of curiosity is that without it creativity is impossible.

Let us be clear, curiosity is not the same as lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is a painfully long process that can only be assessed accurately in the final moments before your death. Imagine that just before you die, someone says ‘well then what have you learned whilst you have been alive?’. Curiosity is a condition that you carry around, an itch that you need to scratch. It makes you wonder about something so that you have to do something about it right now. So, at the end of a day you have learned something (or not). No need to wait until you die.

Learning by being curious is the main reason for the success of many well known names such as Walt Disney, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey. In many cases reading books was the key.

Can we learn from possibly the most curious person in history – Leonardo Da Vinci? His curiosity was recorded in his many notebooks. There are sketches, drawings, and lists that reveal how he thought. He knew when to wander and daydream and when to focus on one particular thing, to master it and try to make it become real.

In order to properly develop our curiosity, we need to roam widely, to get a basic knowledge of a few areas. Have you ever noticed that once you have a rudimentary knowledge of a topic, you want to find out more or perhaps even master it completely?

One of the best tips that I have come across is ‘Ask Google’.

Don’t just ask Google when you need to know the opening times of your nearest burger bar or cinema. If you daydream, Google it. Google questions as well as answers. If you turn up surprising things then Google those as well.

Curiosity is apparently contagious. Unfortunately, incuriosity is also contagious. Curiosity levels will rise and fall depending on your surroundings and the people whose company you keep. This is why Leonardo made lists of people that he wished to interview (or more likely interrogate). Many others have done the same.

So, it seems that there could also be a short cut to learning. Create the right environment, surround yourself with the right people and have a list of questions that you wish to have answered. Basically, you need to get ready to have curious conversations and avoid incurious people!

Why You Should Love Opening Doors

Do you open the door

Have I gone mad? Last month it was paradoxes and now we have opening doors! Is it a real door or a metaphor?

This is all seems a bit deep. Here is a door, just an ordinary one apart from the fact that we know it will soon be opened. You can’t yet see what is on the other side (but you might already be making assumptions).

So whether you have your personal or business hat on, just imagine that you are seeing this door for the first time. In fact, there could be many such doors in a line or even behind these doors. You don’t really know, but you/your business are in a hurry and you think you know what is behind the door so why even bother with it?

What do you do, stop by each door that you come across, survey its surroundings and continue your journey perhaps wondering where all these doors have come from?

Are you not in the slightest bit curious as to how an ‘above average’ number of doors came to be here? This alone should spark interest. What did you do though? Did you have a brief look, compare this situation with others you have come across and conclude that there was nothing of importance or value here?

What if there is some sleight of hand, what if special effects and camouflage are creating an illusion? There could be a real door (or maybe even several) into a real room. Maybe there is just a door hanging in the wind, but since you did not even take the opportunity to walk around the other side you would not know that there was a map showing the location of lost treasure, or next week’s winning lottery numbers?

What if we get a different experience by going through the door rather than round it (it might damage the door though)?

I will not labour the point too much but one of the key principles of Innovation is curiosity. If something does not look right, what does it mean? Do you not get curious? Does it present an opportunity or a tool that we can use?

If an opportunity does present itself, do we dismiss it because we think we understand it even though we have not had a really good look at it?

Life is full of doors. We cannot look behind every single one but there is value in being curious.

Enjoy exploring! If you need some help cultivating your curiosity and opening doors then please do get in touch.

Craziness and Creativity

This is an old Apple promo video that has reappeared with the release of the iPad. It features many characters that at the time were regarded as crazy in some way. Yet their craziness, curiosity, creativity and desire to disrupt the status quo had a lasting effect on all of us. So can we learn from this? Is crazy good and just how much of it do we need, after all it is a powerful phenomenon. So just how far should we be prepared to go to try and change things? How far would YOU be prepared to go?

Working With Generation Why?

History has defined a series of generations such as the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and now Generation Z (or Generation Why?). Generation Y are the children of Generation X and are now in their late teens to early twenties, the University and College students of today. As far as technology was concerned they went from geek to chic. Generation X grew up as technology and the internet was mushrooming and Generation Y simply went gadget mad. They grew up in times of economic prosperity and so created a different outlook on life. Don’t like your job, then go and get another? Want to work from home, no problem?

Generation Y is more brand and image conscious, they are more likely to have addictions and undesirable habits, they exhibit less loyalty to employers and their family units are prone to breaking down.

Next comes Generation Z, or ‘Generation Why?’ as I like to call it. The world has changed very rapidly of late. We have seen the power of developing countries such as India, China and Brazil as well as global warming, famine, the collapse of financial systems and now the election of a black American president. We are entering an age where things are less certain (and hence anything is possible) and which will breed a new classification of human being. They will be innovators in the true sense of the word, choosing to be adaptable and flexible in their home lives as well as at work.

Unlike their predecessors, Generation Why? Will be asking tough questions such as ‘Why must we do things in this way?’, ‘Why do we have to make a mess of the planet?’, ‘Why won’t you listen to me?’. They will be like constantly inquisitive teenagers and using their skills and imagination to get what they want. Being slightly less materialistic than Generation X they will be willing to put in more effort at work, but only if it matches their own goals and aspirations.

Sounds like a nightmare? Not at all. There is a generation who are able and willing to look at things differently and get off their backsides. Great things can be achieved but only if these people are ‘managed’ in the right way i.e. given the right resources, intrinsically motivated and contained within ‘light touch’ management systems. This will be a challenge for Managers and Human Resources specialists but the results will be worth waiting for and help is already at hand to start the process.