As kids, we always asked so many different questions. In fact, the average 4-year-old can ask up to 300 questions a day! They are curious about everything and have to find out why some things are the way they are. As adults, we don’t exhibit the same curiosity. Where does it disappear to? More importantly, when did we begin to just accept things for the way they are without asking why?
Curiosity is one of the main characteristics of the most brilliant minds. Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, Leonardo Da Vinci – all exhibited natural curiosity all throughout their lives which led to their achievements. So, have we completely lost the curiosity we had as children? Or is there some way to rediscover it?
In this book summary, readers will discover how curiosity:
- Is the secret to gaining knowledge
- Can help you overcome your fears
- Plays a part in storytelling
- Helps in business
- Improves your relationships
- Has limits and rightfully so
Key lesson one: Curiosity is the secret to gaining knowledge
Learning is always a powerful tool. The key to gaining knowledge, however, lies in curiosity. The more curious you are, the more you will learn. This will give you a great advantage when it comes to adapting to changing situations because you will have more options due to your vast knowledge. In fact, you might even be able to preempt changes before they even occur. Thus, learning because of a curious mind is extremely beneficial. You may feel that you are collecting useless information but in reality, you never know when that bit of information may come in handy. The founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, knew this and would often ask his managers what their competitors had been doing in their stores. His curiosity led him to him collecting useful information that he used to optimize his stores.
In order to increase your knowledge, you should aim to have curiosity conversations. These are conversations that don’t necessarily serve any specific purpose at the time. Their usefulness can come at unexpected times. For example, Brain Grazer, one of the authors, once had a conversation with the chief of the LAPD. It was nothing more than to serve his curiosity and didn’t think about it thereafter. However, years later, when he was working on a film about the FBI, the conversation served as his source of knowledge of people in powerful positions.
So, although you may not see the value of the conversation immediately, the knowledge may come in handy someday. Therefore you should never shy away from a curiosity conversation.
Key lesson two: Curiosity Can help you overcome your fears
It may seem silly to think that curiosity can help you overcome fears. After all, how can be being curious help you overcome your fear of heights? However, curiosity is capable of this by making you push past your reservations and think about what in particular makes you fearful.
Grazer, for example, utilizes curiosity to deal with his fears of rejection and public speaking. A movie of his was constantly rejected. Instead of being scared of further rejection, he chose to focus on his curiosity about how the movie would turn out once it was made. His persistence, driven by his curiosity, eventually got the film made.
The other way he used his curiosity was to use it to understand and confront his fear of giving speeches. He became curious about the origin of his fear and the more he analyzed it, he came to realize that his fear was rooted in not being prepared. Thus he began preparing his speeches and anticipating the questions he would be asked given the topic and audience. The curiosity to delve deeper into the origin of his fear led to him working to overcoming it.
Key lesson three: Curiosity Plays a part in storytelling
Curiosity is what keeps us reading a book, a newspaper or watching a movie. We want to know what happens next, so we stay tuned. Likewise, for a storyteller, curiosity is also an important factor to tell a great story. You need to be curious to gather the information you need to tell a story. It will help you put together interesting pieces of information that you have gathered through curiosity and form a story that piques the curiosity of others.
This is something Grazer knows all too well being a producer. He was always curious about intelligence agencies and how they worked. Thus, he used every opportunity he got to have curiosity conversations with multiple intelligence agents from all over the world. It was this curiosity and conversations that led to him producing the hit television series, 24. The ending of each episode left you curious about what would happen next.
And it’s not just important in entertainment. If you have a product that you want to sell, you have to make people curious about it. If they are curious about your product, they will want to know more about it. Therefore, you should always aim to use curiosity when you tell a story or describe your product.
Key lesson four: Curiosity Helps in business
Would you have guessed that curiosity is good for business? As mentioned in the previous key lesson, it is important from a marketing and sales perspective as you get people’s attention. However, curiosity in business is also extremely important in enabling collaboration. This happens because when you are curious about what other people in the company are thinking about, you want to work with them.
A good way to enable curiosity to work is to encourage staff members to ask questions. In this manner, everyone gets a chance to learn a little more about each other and the way they work and they get to reflect on the work done. This leads to a stronger working environment with everyone collecting information which could help them with any problems in the future.
Another way curiosity helps in business is that it helps salespeople and customers connect. Imagine you want to buy a car and the salesperson just shows you the one he thinks suits you just by looking at you. Would you be comfortable with that? Or would you prefer someone who took the time to ask you a few questions, find out what you are looking for and then starts making suggestions based upon that information? Probably the latter, right?
Key lesson five: Curiosity Improves your relationships
No matter how long you have known someone, chances are there are still some things you don’t know about them. This is why you should aim to remain curious in all your relationships. It’s actually a sign of respect as it shows that you do not take them for granted and you want to know more.
People who have been together for a long time may find this difficult or even unnecessary. If you find yourself stuck in a routine, you might want to change the way you ask your questions. For example, instead of asking ‘How was your day?’ you could possibly ask ‘How did your meeting with your client go?’. This not only shows your interest but also shows that you remember what is going on in your work-life. A lack of curiosity in a relationship is a sign of trouble, but it can be easily fixed by exhibiting genuine curiosity once again.
Curiosity is also what leads us to meet new people in the first place. When we first meet someone new, in any situation, you ask them about themselves as a way to get to know them. This is curiosity at work. No doubt as the conversation continues, mutual curiosity is what drives it and inevitably brings people closer together.
Key lesson six: Curiosity Has limits and rightfully so
Yes, curiosity is good for you, but you should set a limit. Why? Well, too much curiosity can be distracting. Think of it this way, if you are confident in your ability to do something and you want to get on with it without getting distracted, it is beneficial not to be curious about the opinions of others. You will know when it is best to be anti-curious. It is not because you are being stubborn and refusing further information but rather that you know that you are capable and any further information will just throw you off course.
It is difficult at first to determine when to stop being curious, but over time, you will learn when you can trust your own opinions. Grazer has had to deal with this multiple times when producing movies. There were often many people who criticised his choices of movies for production. There were many instances when he had to stop listening to the opinions of others and trust his own experiences and gut feel. As much as he has achieved mixed results over the years with some movies being more commercially successful than others, but he has learned what works and what doesn’t.
The key takeaway from A Curious Mind is:
Curiosity is more important than you realise. As adults, we often lose our curiosity because we stop asking questions. In reality, curiosity is the driving force behind learning, conquering fears, storytelling, business and relationships. It is easy to begin your journey to rediscovering your curiosity, all you have to do is start asking questions again. You would be surprised about how it will help you achieve great results in every aspect of your life.
How can I implement the lessons learned in A Curious Mind:
Ask questions! Have curiosity conversations when you meet someone new. Most people feel like they are being nosy if they ask questions. Obviously, you’re not going to interrogate them – just show genuine interest and you will notice that the conversation will flow easily. Mutual curiosity can build relationships, strengthen work collaboration and lead to learning. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be shy!