What are you curious about? What situations seem strange or seem to hold answers you have never heard? Are you the type of person that always wants to know why?
Curiosity is a trait that many people feel is an annoyance. Ask too many questions to your boss and he or she might tell you to just get back to work. If a child asks too many simple questions that the parent doesn’t know how to respond the child will often get discouraged from even asking or thinking of those questions.
But curiosity is important. It is our desire to see something and think that there must be more than what we see. Sure we can simply sit back and say, “That is just the way it is.”
But if we start to break through that in order to gain better understanding, we can start to see better ways forward. We can see that there might be a better way to do something.
I’m always interested in topics of improvement and the concept of curiosity tends to be a foundational element in improvement. We have to be curious about something in order to adjust what we are doing, in order to put off short-term gratification, without any real proof that doing so will result in better.
But curiosity by itself isn’t really that valuable. The value comes from the action that comes after being curious. It comes from searching out the information and then using that knowledge to improve something.
It could be to improve our self. It could be to improve our company. It could be to improve our neighborhood.
But curiosity is often the very first step. It is the starting block that helps us gain the motivation to take a step forward.
In the book, A Curious Mind author and movie producer Brain Grazer talks about the value of curiosity. One of the early examples in the book of how to systematically use curiosity comes from Grazer’s explanation of how he started to exercise.
He says, “I took a resolution and turned it into a habit, into part of how I live each day.”
He then goes on to show how he used that same concept of systematizing it and forming a habit to develop his sense of curiosity. Curiosity is valuable but it is what you do with that curiosity that can make things happen.
He goes on to say, “I did the same thing with curiosity. Very gradually, starting with that first law clerk’s job at Warner Bros., I consciously made curiosity a part of my routine.”
This took Grazer on an amazing journey that included producing great works such as A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Arrested Development, 24, 8 Mile, Empire and much, much more.
So how can you use curiosity as part of your routine? How can you begin to ask questions and then take action? (If you are looking for insight into ways to do this, Grazer’s book is excellent.)
By taking something valuable, like curiosity, and then turning into habit, as part of a routine, is a great way to truly leverage its value. Without the systematic element it is just a nice thing to learn but doesn’t actually help you improve. Add in the systems thinking perspective and you can start to create new behaviors and new ways to proceed forward, taking what you learned and applying it to add benefit to your own life.