Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #550 - The Art of Curiosity
Hi Mom, I am still working on the book review post, and I am deep into prepping a new class that I have to teach this morning, so another reprint and without as much preamble as yesterday.
This article caught my eye because it's my main impassioned plea to my students every semester with the introduction of the word "quidnunc," which means a person who is interested in everything.
My wife is a great quidnunc, and it's possibly the thing I love most about her. She's the most curious person I know. My life is so rich because it's shared with her. She is constantly learning new things and sharing them with me. Though I love learning things too, I cannot possibly keep up with her appetite for learning.
Anyway, happy reading, Mom, and readers... always be learning.
What does being curious mean to you?
Me & Curiosity
Fuel for your startup
A licence to be curious
Unplanning & serendipity
Asking & listening
So how can you inject curiosity into your own life?
- Be fluid. In life and business there’s so much emphasis on having a long-term plan. It drives me mad. Who knows what’s around the corner? Who would be able to anticipate an economic disaster or a world event that forces us to rip up a five year plan? Goals in both life and career are important; it’s good to have a vision of where you’re headed. But stay open minded. Instead of having a fixed linear path for how to get there, embrace randomness and serendipity along the way. Try going where the water flows.
- Think like a kid. Once a French friend came to visit me in London. Alain had never eaten Japanese food before, so I took him to my local Japanese restaurant. Halfway through the meal he went to find the toilet, but when he hadn’t returned after fifteen minutes, I went to find him. He was in the kitchen quizzing the chefs about the food and its preparation. I’d been to the restaurant a few times but had never met the chef. On his first visit Alain just walked in there and started asking questions. His curiosity was almost childlike — totally uninhibited unlike most of us who might think it inappropriate to walk in to a restaurant kitchen uninvited. Imagine if you embraced that mindset and thought like a child. If you wanted to launch a retail business, imagine if you lost your inhibitions and walked into shops asking questions. Imagine how you’d fast-track your mission and quest for answers.
- Be an idea collector. Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. So you need to invest time in exploring ideas. New ideas tend to be a fusion of old ones, so if you’re looking to be more innovative or creative, try collecting ideas. use your phone or a notebook to capture thoughts and ideas. Capture your own thoughts on your morning train commute. Note down other people’s ideas and stories, copy quotes that inspire you, cut things out, snap photos on your phone. The fashion designer Paul Smith uses his curiosity to take photographs of everything from street scenes to window displays on his travels around the world. These images inform his next collection. The act of clipping (whether with a digital tool or a pair of scissors) makes my brain well-tuned to spotting inspiring content, whether it’s a blog post, a tweet, a newspaper article or a photo in a magazine. I never know when these may come in handy. It’s also satisfying to have a portfolio of ideas to leaf through when you’re looking for inspiration.
- Travel without a map. One day a meeting got delayed and I found myself with thirty minutes to spare. Exiting the tube station I decided to dispense with the map on my iPhone and instead let my instinct guide me towards my destination. I knew that Whitecross Street would take me in the right direction northwards. As I walked slowly up the street I followed the lunchtime crowd in their summer dresses and shirt sleeves into a little park that I never knew existed. Busy with office workers, children in a playground and people queuing at a coffee stand, it was a welcome, inspiring, break in my day. If I had focused on a map I would have never taken that left turn. It was a detour that just happened by following my curiosity. That sense of random discovery was really rewarding, like having an awesome meal in a new cafe, finding a great new novel or taking a ride down the coast and finding a deserted cove. It gave me a boost.
- Read, watch & listen wildly. Curiosity is like a muscle that you need to exercise if you want to continue to benefit from it. So go out of your comfort zone — browse websites and read books you wouldn’t usually choose. I love browsing the shelves of Magma design shop in London. Here I’ve discovered beautiful magazines like Offscreen, a publication for people who work in the web industry. I might not be in their target audience, but I learned a lot about a bunch of talented people via some great storytelling and beautiful photography. If you’re on Twitter and only follow people in ‘your world’, try following interesting people in other cities, engaged in other professions, industries and worlds away from your own. You may learn a thing or two.
- Dabble. Don’t keep your curiosity to yourself and the pages of your notebook. Apply it to your business and career by trying your hand at new projects, by experimenting. In my fifteen years of working for myself, dabbling has provided the more interesting projects — from working with an artist management startup developing new bands to writing a kids’ book. The good things about dabbling is that it doesn’t carry much risk. Because we recognise it’s an experiment on the side, we can do it for the fun and curiosity of it. It’s not our ‘bread and butter’ project, job or business — so who cares if it fails? It was just a dabble. At least we tried it.
Reflect and connect.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
I miss you so very much, Mom.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 552 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1701.07 - 9:02