Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Curiouser and curiouser!
I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.
It popped up on my Facebook page. It said “curiosity is the most powerful thing you can own”. I found myself smiling at the screen, pleasantly jolted off track. Once an avid fan of quotes, I have lately been ever more jaded with the multi media blasting of quotes on to billboards, tee-shirts, weekend paper inserts, Facebook and TV adverts until I simply stopped seeing them. Hovering over ‘delete’, this one resisted, it seemed to hum… I wanted to hang on to it, as it lingered and stuck like the smell of good French coffee and every bit as rich. Those nine words promised wide open spaces, endless possibility, buzzing energy, Life!
Looking back it’s the reason I breathed a sign of relief in San Francisco during my first coach training in 2001. Apparently one of the key coaching skills we were to embrace was curiosity. Back then this sounded just a tiny bit mad …and very good reason to stay! It’s why I picked ‘the explorer’ as my favourite character as a young girl in dance class; I could go somewhere and find something even if it was only in my imagination! I realise I am happiest when I am on the move literally and figuratively and I practice intercultural coaching because having lived in various places around the world, I want to know what makes us different even when we buy the same brands, rent the same Hollywood films and download the same Utube clips. It seems to me one of the best reasons to be alive is to be able to ask questions.
Of course many would argue we have never more spoiled by information. Most of us have the most amazing discoveries right at our fingertips; Michael O’ Leary’s business model has helped even far flung travel become cheaper and more assessable. Best selling books are printed in soft back and slashed to half price within weeks of publication. We never lack for the latest news with countless news channels and the choice of 150 channels plus at the touch of a button. Surely all great and yet.. it seems to me that more and more questions are absorbed into mass media business, ingested, processed, and answers nicely distributed while we happily pay for the privilege.
Short of time and overwhelmed by choice we tend to consume answers in easy to eat chunks, a bit like takeaway pleasantly filling a gap but far from home made and lacking the uniqueness of our personal touch. What about doing some home made information gathering?
Here some ways to spark curiosity
Don’t accept everything you are told / printed
Read your favourite papers, new releases, and websites – but remember that they may not have the whole story. It often useful to ask ‘what isn’t being said?’ Allow yourself to be a little critical – (but balance it with optimism).
Ask ‘What if…’
One of the key questions you can make a habit of asking is ‘what if’? Curious people don’t just ask but they come up with solutions – they dream up ways of solving problems. Many of the solutions will end up being thrown away but if you ask ‘what if’ enough times you’re bound to make progress eventually. Have fun with it, you may end up starting a new business!
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
Perhaps the most curious of ‘creatures’ are children who do a lot of what we’re writing about here (especially asking questions). Another thing that children do is ‘play’. With no other agenda than having fun and seeing what happens next children will play with the things around them, experiment and push the boundaries of their environment. In doing so they learn about life, themselves and their world. it’s often when we take this ‘playful’ approach to life that we are at our most creative and make all kinds of discoveries. Remember one of the best loved children’s books out there was originally meant for adults! Alice in Wonderland,
Curious people rarely sit still and are always pushing forward and taking initiative. Keep building new networks – keep your eyes open for other curious people to spend time with. Great ideas often flow through such collaboration. Meet people you deem you have very little in common with. Take yourself our of your comfort zone, see what comes of the new connection
Paradoxically it also helps to give yourself time to allow questions to drift to you; day dreaming is a much maligned and underestimated activity and slowing down is a perfect antidote to our immediate and fast paced times.
So its three weeks later you have applied some of the suggestions above and you have asked so many questions you are worried people are going to cross the road when they see you! Remember sometimes there is a thin line between lots of unwelcome questions- busybody and being curious; if you feel you are moving towards the unattractive side remember why you are getting curious!
Curiosity works because:
It makes your mind active instead of passive. Curiosity leads to greater curiosity. The more questions we ask, the more associations we are able to make. History has shown us that curiosity is an important trait of a genius. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein to name but a few were are all curious characters.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
Become more aware and clarify what you want – Curiosity allows you to shed light on your troubles, thoughts, and personal circumstances. Curiosity about self allows for more self awareness. When curiosity is properly honed, it helps to establish deeply felt personal goals.
You Will Increase Your Productivity and Efficiency – A curious mind dives beneath the surface to unravel the details driving the process. The more you understand the details, the better you will understand the process and more productive you will be. Looking at a challenge from multiple angles helps discover alternative ways of accomplishing the same task. The greater the pool of possible solutions, the more likely it is that they will expose a better way to get things done.
When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do
You Will Experience a Spice of Variety – Variety is the spice of life, there is nothing more boring than repetition. When you allow your curiosity to send you in new directions you add variety into your life. This could be as simple as eating at a new restaurant or taking a new route to work.
You Will Establish New Relationships – Being curious about others can build a real connection; when you are truly interested in another’s story, you are travelling the same path as them even for a brief period; you may be lighting the way by your wonder and your questions .What if there was a different way, what if we thought about it like this, what if he she didn’t mean that and it’s simply how you heard it. Keep asking questions and you may be surprised how revealing and connecting the process becomes.
So my 2013 challenge for you and me: Keep an open mind, don’t take things for granted, assume nothing and remember Curiosity never killed the cat!