I must thank Bob McCurdy of the Beasley Media Group for reminding me that curiosity is a powerful trait. And not just for professional reasons.
What curiosity means to me.
I’ve been unusually curious about all manner of things for as long as I can remember but here’s why I am particularly motivated to stay curious:
- It kicks boredom to the curb. If you have a curious bone in your body you will never be bored a day in your life. I think that’s also one of the reasons I am so enamored of Blinkist (the app I’ve written about that gives you a 15-minute read on thousands of non-fiction books). For example, whether you’re curious about Brexit, chess, the history of dating or the founding of Reddit, the info you need is at your fingertips.
- It gives you the freedom to explore and learn. And in the process, to learn more about yourself as well. Curious people tend to be self-motivated so the whole discovery process is extra rewarding.
- “Trait curious” people (as psychologists call them) are happier than most. Study after study has shown that curious people find a greater sense of meaning in life, which in turn is a good predictor of sustainable, lasting happiness. Who wouldn’t want that?
Read on below for 5 ways that curiosity has played a key role in my life and why I encourage everyone to cultivate their curiosity muscle.
5 ways curiosity has played out in my life
- My earliest upbringing prioritized curiosity in a big way. Many of you know the whole story of my parents moving to Australia from Germany when I was 6 years old. None of us spoke English. I was the first to learn and became my parents’ cultural translator for everything that was new and different from food to housing to the weather. For example, we arrived in Australia at Christmas which meant that instead of snow and singing “O Tannenbaum” we went to the beach in 100-degree weather. Everything about the Australian experience fueled my curiosity. The lesson: train yourself to use unfamiliar circumstances to become more innately curious.
- Learning fuels curiosity. We didn’t have the internet or Google back then but my parents bought me the second-best thing. For my 10th birthday, I got an Encyclopedia Britannica! I don’t recall if I was disappointed but I do recall reading it voraciously. I loved English History and was incredibly curious about English royalty, castles, and battles. I went way deep on this topic much to the chagrin of my teachers who were not impressed by my curiosity since it was far greater than their own. The lesson: pursuing the things you are passionately curious about, makes learning fun and makes life inherently interesting (even if higher-ups sometimes don’t provide encouragement).
- Curiosity is a great foundation for building a business. The research part of my company grew out of my curiosity about people’s lifestyles versus what they told us in focus group settings. I started offering in-home or on-location meet-ups with trend-forward consumers and experts, e.g., with skateboarders at a skatepark or with bartenders and restaurateurs. The lesson: if you can turn what you are passionately curious about into a career, work will rarely be a burden. That said, you may never earn the kind of money (or the perks) somebody with a traditional corporate job makes – but maybe you can. I came close!
- People who are innately curious are the most interesting people in the world. I’ve been lucky to know and work with people who psychologists call “trait curious.” They all have an innate curiosity that makes them unique and compelling to be around. They always ask you great questions. The lesson: train yourself to become more curious by being particularly observant, really listening and asking lots of questions.
- Cultivate curiosity over a lifetime. It’s actually not that difficult. First, there’s more to learn and explore today than in the past. So no excuses. You have to stay open to learning and to NOT having all the answers. It can be very frustrating when your knowledge is suddenly made irrelevant, e.g., when WordPress did a major upgrade, I hated it but Jamie Dwyer, my tech guru and one of my “curiosity mentors,” told me to buckle up and relearn how to use the new platform. And now, of course, I love it. I also find that travel feeds my curiosity in a way I would never have thought possible. This coming year I have two major trips. One is to Central and South America including Patagonia, Iguacu Falls, and Cartagena Columbia. The other, “The Future Of Everything” departs in May. It’s another Nat Geo trip but this time in partnership with the WSJ. The destinations I am particularly excited about are Tallinn Estonia (the most digitized society in the world) and Lapland to visit with the Sami people to learn about the future of the Arctic. More on all of that later.
Experts claim there is a link between curiosity and well-being. Based on my personal experience, I agree.
The rewards for being curious are many. There’s the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from pursuing your interests, e.g., I am obsessed with the “new” and determined to become a better writer. My daily posts have turned into one of the most satisfying and rewarding things that I have undertaken.
And then there’s the social aspect. Highly curious people that I know are always a bit more intriguing and doing more interesting stuff than the rest of us. They serve as my daily inspiration to be more observant, to learn more, and to get out and experience more!