Why, for us, curiosity is no less than the key to survival.

(Originally sent to all our subscribers via Edition 6 of our weekly smartletter.)


Roads : Rome :: Wikipedia articles : Philosophy

Here's a game. Go to Wikipedia. Open a page at random. Click the first link you see on the page. Keep doing so. Pretty soon, you will reach the "Philosophy" page. (As we wrote this, we clicked on"Lists of Commonwealth of Nations countries by GDP". 10 clicks later, we were at the Grand Central of Wikipedia pages - "Philosophy".)

Why this happens is not something that today's smartletter will explain. (However, it's a fascinating combination of reasons that connects topics such as maths, network theory, ontology, web design, and yes, philosophy.)

The key question, though, is: how is that we knew this? 

For us, curiosity is serious business

We've often seen the word 'curiosity' show up on corporate slides.  It's a 'company value' for some. It's something to exhort the troops to show more of. For many, it's a nice cliche in an article about the 'future'.

For them, it's something they'd like to do tomorrow, if they have the time.

For us, it's survival.

At Choose To Thinq, curiosity is, fundamentally, what enables us to stay alive. Some of us transitioned from other careers. In large part, this was enabled by personal systems of curiosity that had exposed us to new ideas and helped us make connections between them. It gave us confidence to take the leap.

It's what helps us have meaningful conversations with our clients. All of them are leaders who hear a lot of conventional talk and want ideas and inputs from us. If we can hold our own in that room, it's only because it's backed by a deep foundation of curiosity. If we stopped being curious, we'd be out on our ear in a day.

So pardon us if you see us visibly wince when you put the word 'curiosity' on a slide and don't really mean it.

Honestly, when we first encountered this tidbit about Wikipedia, we didn't know if we'd ever find a use for it. But that's the whole point.

Curiosity is a system, not a talent

When you are a child, you are hard-wired to be curious (within limits; evolution has probably weeded out the crazily curious. Probably why cats need 9 lives.). But for most of us, adulthood is not always amenable to curiosity. So it has to be a system, something you practice deliberately or make a habit. (Often both.)

It's already a long post, so how about we tell you how curiosity can be made a system in a subsequent smartletter? But before we leave, these are 3 things about curiosity that we've come to realise:

1.Curiosity is fueled by randomness: You aren't getting much if you delve deep only in one narrow topic. Enable randomness in your world, and pay attention to it. Take the 'wrong' path, pick up an odd book, listen to a strange show. Go outside your zone of competence.

2.Real curiosity needs expression: Passively consuming information is pointless. Curiosity compounds when you engage with it. So write, talk, perform, experiment, and teach. 

3.Curiosity may seem 'inefficient': It may seem unproductive. It could mean saying "no"to something that can generate immediate returns. It can feel hard to justify. It's a trade-off you need to learn to appreciate.

More in the weeks ahead. Did you know psychologist George Loewenstein said that curiosity comes from gaps in knowledge, and that...





...we actually feel a kind of 'pain' which impels us to resolve such gaps in knowledge?

To make curiosity a system, start by subscribing to The Upleveler, our weekly smartletter.