How I Learned To Stay Curious
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso
I get easily excited about a variety of subjects. In the past, I tended to restrain myself from following up on these curious ventures. I would push myself away from the new interest, thinking I need to focus on the other thing. Whether it was business or marketing, I would create this pressure that I can’t spend time on this — although it was clearly something interesting. It had to be directly applicable to whatever I was doing in that period.
Our schools taught me this way.
I wasn’t always like this. Growing up, I was curious about everything. I wanted to know about chemistry, electronics, photography, and art. There would be no connection among the subjects — I still wanted to get in.
With the help of my baby boomer parents and clueless elementary school teachers I would get discouraged about searching for what interested me. Instead I was to follow the guidelines. It would go something like this:
— You first have to learn this law or that equation to solder these transistors together. You can do that next year.
— But I already play with the soldering iron at home!
— Well, you shouldn’t have!
In other words, they told me: — You can’t!
But how do they know what I can or cannot do?
Do you think Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus Rift, thought he shouldn’t play with the old VR headsets? Do you think he learned the semiconductor physics before he disassembled his first Nintendo?
Because they didn’t care one bit about what other people say.
They just went in. Hard.
You can only connect the dots looking backward
This ubiquitous curiosity is connected to creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert did a remarkable job with her TED talk on where creativity comes from. She makes a point that there is no way of explaining it. Rather, she tells how to nourish it and most of all, accept it.
When I get inspired I draw conclusions that I never anticipate. Sometimes I reach that glorious “holy shit this is good!” moment. When I get into the flow and bury myself in work, suddenly, I have access to so much new insight that I didn’t know was there. These are the dots to be connected.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
—Steve P. Jobs.
You can only connect the dots going backward. When you’re curious, you go out there and you try and fail and try and fail. Learning becomes effortless because it’s motivated by genuine interest. The cognitive capacity expands, and you learn by doing. As it turns out, this is the best kind of learning.
The only source of knowledge is experience.
— Albert Einstein
This has worked for me better than anything else. From time to time I would find a new passion and I would bury myself into the subject. Usually, I would hop on the next thing so I wouldn’t advance at most things. But these spurts of interested learning left a lesson that I recently discovered:
Anyone can learn anything.
Anyone can become anything.
The differentiator is the passion and drive that will guide us through the hard stuff. The diligence that comes after the curious searching.
There is no passion without curiosity and genuine interest.
If you’re looking for passion, try allowing yourself to just be curious. Let’s keep searching and stay curious.