Top-Shelf Tip No. 245:

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

Albert Einstein

Inspire Your Curiosity, Part 2

Curiosity. What role does it play in your business? Do you allow your mind to stretch and wander? In his book, Curious: The Desire To Know And Why Your Future Depends On It, author Ian Leslie gives examples of the role of curiosity in building your strengths as a leader.

Are you curious? Do you have a sense of wonder? Do you look into things because you have to know the answer? Curiosity, according Leslie, is a combination of intelligence, persistence and hunger for novelty, all wrapped up in one.

Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today shared four key insights from Dr. Jonathan Wai's review of this new book. Today we share three more key points about curiosity.

  1. Put a lot of ideas and facts in your head: Don't rely on Google. In his book. Leslie refers to Sir Ken Robinson's TED video "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" which was viewed more than four million times. But as Leslie points out, "Robinson has it precisely the wrong way around when he says that a natural appetite for learning begins to dissipate once children start to be educated. ... But at the most basic level, all of our new ideas are made up of old ones ... to create a smartphone, you need to know about computers and phones.

    "We romanticize the curiosity of children because we love their innocence. But creativity doesn't happen in a void. Successful innovators and artists amass vast stores of knowledge, which they can then draw on unthinkingly. ... They mix and remix ideas and themes, making new analogies and spotting unusual patterns, until a creative breakthrough is achieved."

    Facts and knowledge don't kill creativity; they make it possible.

  2. Be an expert who is interested in everything. "In the marketplace for talent, the people most in demand will always be those who offer an expertise few others possess. But having a breadth of knowledge is increasingly valuable, too. These two trends exist in tension with each other. Should you focus on learning more about your own niche or on widening your knowledge base?" asks Leslie.

    He points out that those who are poised for success are able to do both: fine-tuning your personal expertise while also broadening your knowledge.

    Leslie states in his book, "In a highly competitive, high-information world, it's crucial to know one or two big things and to know them in more depth and detail than most of your contemporaries. But to really ignite that knowledge, you need the ability to think about it from a variety of eclectic perspectives and to be able to collaborate fruitfully with people who have different specializations."

    The internet can be a great tool for both sharpening and broadening your knowledge and expertise, as well as your interactions with other experts in other disciplines.

  3. Don't just focus on puzzles but on mysteries too. Leslie talks about the differences between puzzles and mysteries. "Puzzles have definite answers ... once the missing information is found, it's not a puzzle anymore. The frustration you felt when you were searching for the answer is replaced by satisfaction ... mysteries are murkier, less neat. They pose questions that can't be answered definitively because the answers often depend on a highly complex and interrelated set of factors, both known and unknown. A society or organization that thinks only in terms of puzzles is one that is too focused on the goals it has set, rather than on the possibilities it can't yet see."

Do you think too much in terms of puzzles? Are you always trying to get answers and solve problems? Innovation and growth often come from trying to solve something that can't be logically explained.

Allow yourself to be curious. It will drive you to look harder and stretch further. You could discover new opportunities that wouldn't be possible without curious inspiration.

Source: Dr. Jonathan Wai is a research scientist for Duke University's Talent Identification Program. He researches and writes about the development of talent, broadly conceived, and its impact on society. His interests focus on the role of cognitive abilities, education and other factors that contribute to the development of expertise in education, occupation and innovation. Dr. Wai's work has been covered in Science, New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Scientific American, Wired, Education Week and newspapers all over the world.

Source: Compiled by Cassandra Johnson


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