Why Curiosity Matters

Realizing The Significance of Your Own Curiosity

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

Einstein was absolutely right; curiosity does have it’s own reason for existing. Unfortunately, I believe we’ve overlooked the value, significance and the profound reason our own natural curiosity exists; for us individually and collectively.   

As we know, curiosity is the desire to learn – that’s it’s basic function. However, it provides us with far more than that!

Curiosity is the spark that helps us learn and grow – it’s human nature’s carrot out in front of us – enticing us to move forward a bit more, to discover the world around us and help us make sense of the world.

Curiosity ultimately helps us evolve as individuals.

Curiosity is something we all naturally possess. We all have the natural capacity to be curious about more than one thing, and many of us are curious about a great many things. While some don’t seem to be curious at all. But that’s not the case; again, we are all born with a desire to learn.

Our curiosity and sense of wonder is our innate education system.

“Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly. ” ~ Arnold Edinborough

Unfortunately though, most of our school systems failed to realize that while we are all born with curiosity and an amazing sense of wonder, we don’t have “a desire to learn” everything, nor do we want to wonder about just anything, simply because others find it interesting or important.

Children really do have minds of their own.

It’s an amazing world and universe we live in, and the possibilities for our curious mind are truly limitless. And yet, our school systems still only teach a handful of subjects. It’s no wonder so many children are bored to death in school.

But it’s a much bigger problem then we realize, and an enormous loss for humanity.

Our children have access to the world’s information at their fingertips, literally on their mobile phones and devices, and yet most of our school systems still force children to focus on the handful of subjects they believe are most important – actually discouraging children to let their minds wander and wonder where it most wants to go.

This is when we begin to loose our childlike sense of wonder and resulting curiosity.

Einstein said, “it’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

And he’s absolutely right! But this isn’t just happening now; this has been going on since the institution of our industrial education system, where we’re pushed by leaders of industry and government to learn what they believe was most important for our future.

While this sounds good and right, it’s not, and it’s one of humanity’s greatest oversights. And it helps explain why “engagement” is such a huge problem in the workforce! In October of 2013, Gallup® reported that 87% of the worldwide workforce is unengaged.

Although Gallup® has it’s own definition of engagement and methodology for measuring it, I don’t believe anyone is “truly” and fully engaged unless they’re tapping into their own most profound curiosity and childlike sense of wonder, while at work.

Our curiosity and childlike sense of wonder is one of the most amazing attributes we have as human beings – it’s what weds us to the world.  More significantly,  the theoretical limitless possibilities we have the natural ability to ponder, far separates us from any other living being we’re aware of.  And yet, the vast majority of our population is not aware of the beauty and power of their own imagination.

“Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages. It’s accelerative. The more we know, the more we want to know.” ~ David McCullough

Again, I believe we’ve overlooked the value and significance of our own natural curiosity and the profound reason for it; for ourselves and for the advancement of humanity.

Here’s why.

1. Your Curiosity is Naturally Unique

Your curiosity is on it’s own naturally unique, evolutionary spectrum, as a result of your own unique journey.

I learned this at a very young age growing up in a big family. While we all grew up n the same house, same mom and went to the same schools, we were curious about very different things. Of course there were many things we could converse over and things we had a shared interest in. However, the breath and depth of our curiosities were very different, from each other and from our parents.

Not only does each and every human being have different desires to learn and different degrees of desire, but we learn differently as well – we naturally take information in differently, and take in different information as a result – we naturally focus on different things, and the degree to which we focus on those things varies. Consequently, we walk away from every learning experience with different perspectives and questions, and the degree to which we’re each curious about those perspectives and questions varies widely. And some of us walk away wondering about something completely different from what we were supposed to have learned and wondered about.

We really do have a mind of our own.

Regardless of your age, your unique curiosity and sense of wonder stems from the questions you still have about what you’ve learned and experienced along your own journey thus far. And your most profound curiosity stems from your own most profound experiences – your own most significant experiences – those that impacted you the most; regardless of wether those were positive or negative experiences.

Sadly though, most have yet to realize they’re most profound curiosity and the profound reason for it. Have you?

The power of our most profound curiosity is that it naturally generates an eagerness to understand that which continues to elude us – it naturally stirs our own imaginative perspective – naturally enticing and encouraging us to chase it down bunny trails and wormholes, with a vitality and vigor like no other – all stemming from a natural yearning to answer our own, most burning questions. And it holds the key to unlocking and unleashing our own unique creativity and imagination – our own genius.

“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” ~ Saul D. Alinsky

2. Your Creativity & Imagination is Tied to Your Curiosity

Where you’re least curious, you’re least creative and imaginative.

Think about it. How creative and imaginative are you going to be about something if you’re completely disinterested in it? Since you don’t “care to learn about it” you don’t want to wonder about it, so you don’t. As a result, you never ponder the possibilities and consider any “what if’s”. Therefore, you lack any creativity or imagination regarding that subject.

However, the flip side is also true.

Where you’re most curious, you’re most creative and imaginative.

Think about it. The more you wonder about something the more you learn – the more you wonder, the more you learn and the more you wonder “why?” an “what if?” and you ponder the possibilities, and this is where all discovery comes from!

3. Curiosity Ignites Discovery

All the great works and discoveries in the world have been produced and found by those that maintained their childlike sense of wonder. They pondered the possibilities of their own imagination, asking questions that only they would ask, from their unique combination of knowledge, experience, and resulting perspective.

From Archimedes and Aristotle, Plato and Pasteur, Da Vinci and van Gogh, Mozart and Michael Angelo, to Einstein, Edison and Jobs, all “the Greats” let their minds wander and wonder about their own most profound curiosity, and they turned it into their most passionate curiosities in search of answers to their own most burning questions. Their own most profound and passionate curiosities and questions opened their creative and imaginative minds, unleashing their potential down unique paths of wonderment and discovery.

Einstein also said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”

But what most failed to realize is that while he was certainly curious about a lot of things, he wasn’t passionately curious about everything.

Einstein clearly wondered most about how the universe worked. More specifically, he seemed to be most profoundly and passionately curious about the relationship between space and time. He read and he wondered. He talked to people and he wondered. He reflected and he wondered, then he pondered the possibilities. Over time, he had epiphanies and discoveries that he shared with the world, and this is how he impacted the world!

All the Greats impacted the world by sharing the discoveries that stemmed from their most profound and passionate curiosities.

Stephen Hawking said that “Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”

Sadly and unfortunately that’s what many believe – that discovery only happens in the realm of science. But that’s not the case.

Fortunately, we have new discoveries in every aspect of the human experience every day. All you have to do is listen to a new song, look at a new piece of art or painting, read a new book, watch a new play, movie or musical, a new wine or a new dish from a great chef – these are all examples of people sharing their discoveries with the world, and that’s what all the Greats did.

  • Steve Jobs wondered most about the intersection between artful, elegant design and technology. In other words, how can we both enjoy and appreciate technology and get the best out of it.  And he clearly impacted the world by changing how we viewed and used our music, computers, mobile phones and mobile devices.
  • Picasso wondered most about faces for some reason… More specifically, he seemed to wonder most about how our noses changed the shape of our face and gave us character. Over time, he shared what he saw — he shared what he found – he shared what he discovered about us through his paintings, and he impacted the world as a result.
  • Shakespeare wondered most about tragedy and comedy. However, he seemed to wonder most about tragedy for some reason, and he shared what he found – what he discovered, through his plays.
  • Like Shakespeare, Taylor Swift seems to wonder most about romantic tragedy, and she’s sharing her discoveries with the world through her singing and songwriting.
  • Jerry Seinfeld clearly wonders most about our idiosyncrasies – the quirky and even goofy things we do, and he shares his discoveries with the world though his comedy.
  • Mozart wondered most about how different instruments, the notes and sounds they made could come together to impact us emotionally, and he shared his discoveries through the symphonies he created.
  • Martin Luther King clearly wondered most about civil rights, inequality and injustice. And he impacted the world by sharing his epiphanies, discoveries and wisdom with the world, related to his most profound and passionate curiosity.
  • Brené Brown wonders most about vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, and she’s sharing her discoveries with the world through her research.
  • Elon Musk clearly wonders most about the future of transportation, and he’s bringing his discoveries to the world through Tesla, SpaceX and the Hyperloop
  • Oprah Winfrey seems to wonder most profoundly and passionately about triumphs of the human spirit – how we, as human beings, are able to overcome and thrive from life’s greatest challenges. And she’s impacted the world most by sharing her discoveries and wisdom with the world as a result.

These are obvious examples, but there are new discoveries all around us.

Have you ever watched a TED Talk? Every single TED Talk is an example of someone sharing their epiphanies and discoveries with the world, stemming from their most profound and passionate curiosity, and they are impacting the world around them as a result.

Take a look at the 20 most watched TED Talks of all time here.

Regardless of the field endeavor, new discoveries ultimately help improve the human condition and experience – they help us evolve.

Sadly though, we call these “the Greats” for a reason; they stand out. They are the exceptions. And even though we do have new discoveries every day, and we are making progress, we’re not scratching the surface our individual and collective intelligence, to solve problems and improve the human condition.

“The valuable attributes of research men are conscious ignorance and active curiosity.” ~ Willis R. Whitney

Look around your office, your community, our school systems, our local and national governments and around the world; our challenges are growing and seem to be getting worse!

Now more than ever we need the natural curiosity and sense of wonder, creativity and imagination from each and every one of us if we’re going overcome these challenges and enhance our experience.

Our own natural curiosity and sense of wonder matters far more to the world than we we realize.

4. Curiosity & Discovery Helps Us Evolve Collectively

“Eve and the apple was the first great step in experimental science.” ~ James Bridie

Curiosity is critical to our evolution and advancement.

Without curiosity, the earliest pioneers would not have wondered about and discovered the knife 2.5 million years ago, fire about 1 million years ago, and the wheel about 5500 years ago.

In more recent times, curiosity led to the discovery of radio and the airplane, the vacuum cleaner and the air conditioner, ice cream cones and popsicles to television, internet, GPS and the mobile device. Some might argue wether all of those actually improved the human experience, but curiosity also drove the discovery of new vaccines, cures, medicines, treatments and therapies that have minimized human suffering and extended our lifespan.

“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” ~ Ken Robinson

Curiosity matters!

Sadly though, we have not yet realized how much our own natural curiosity matters to ourselves and humanity!

5. Curiosity Helps Us Learn Life Lessons – Large & Small

While curiosity helps us learn knowledge and it helps us grow, it also helps us learn life’s greatest lessons.

From touching the hot stove as a young child, to fighting with siblings or kids on the playground and making up, or watching our parents fight and ultimately makeup or divorce, to pain and suffering, love and loss, getting married and struggling, to having children and watching them grow, learn and struggle, to finding your life’s work and purpose – we only learn from these experiences if and when we have a “desire to learn” – if and only when we have a desire to understand, that we eventually learn life’s greatest lessons.

And over time, hopefully and ultimately we gain some wisdom along our journey.

6. Curiosity Begets Wisdom

Knowledge is what we’ve learned – what we “know”; whereas wisdom is not one one knows, but what one does with what one knows.

However, we can only gain wisdom when we have a desire to learn and understand about our experiences – when we reflect on and learn from our experiences.

“More interest you have more knowledge you have and more knowledge you have more questions you have and more questions means more wisdom you have and you are already inside the vein of life which is running with enormous speed.” ~ Baris Gencel

Wisdom is the ultimate achievement of our curiosity and sense of wonder, and it’s what we’re each meant to wield to impact the world around us.

Knowledge is easy to pass along, and people don’t impact the world by simply passing along information they’ve learned form others. It’s when they share their wisdom – what they most learned from the own experiences – what they learned along and from their own journey, that they leverage to most impact the world.

This is how we leave our mark on the world.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” ~ Albert Einstein

7. Curiosity Can Lead You To Your Life’s Work & Purpose

When you finally discover what your most profound curiosity is, you’ll want to turn it into your most passionate curiosity, so that you can spend the rest of your life chasing down the answers to your own most burning questions, so you can share your discoveries with the world too.

This is how we impact the world and this is how you can impact the world around you!

 “A person who is inherently and intuitively curious is often intellectually and distinctly very serious towards his roles and responsibilities in life.” ~ Anuj Somany

Do you know what your most profound curiosity is?
Is this what your career and life’s work is based on? If not, what are you working on; is it something that you’d love to chase down the answers to for the rest of your life?

Ask yourself these questions:

– What would you most love to learn about for the rest of your life?

– What would you most love to talk to people about for the rest of your life?

– What new answers/discoveries would you most love to bring to the world?

Your own most profound curiosity matters to you and to the world! Please chase it so you can leave your mark on the world and improve the human experience, for yourself and for humanity! Learn more here…

If you’re a student; do you know what your most profound curiosity is?
What do you wonder most about? What would you most love to learn about for the rest of your life? Learn more here…

If you’re a teacher; do you know what your students’ most profound curiosities are?
Are you pushing them to spend most of their time learning about things they don;t really care about, or are you helping them chase their most profound curiosity so they can leave their own mark on the world? Learn more here…

If you’re a business leader; do you know what your employees’ most profound curiosities are?
Is it aligned with their work? How creative and imaginative are they if they’re not truly that curious about the work your organization does? How engaged can you expect them to be if they spend their own time wondering about something else entirely? Learn more here…