Curiosity: the secret sauce of highly successful people

Think about those you consider highly successful, read about their personal and professional stories, and you will find out a common thread: curiosity. Research shows that curiosity prepares the brain for learning. If you are curious about curiosity itself, I recommend you stop by the Center for Curiosity, here, where you will learn about multiple studies and research initiatives.

A few years back, Elon Musk’s first wife, Justine, answered in Quora that becoming a billionaire is not about what you want, but being “ intensely curious about what the world wants and needs”. One could argue that it’s the shift of focus from “my needs” to “other people’s needs” what she was referring to, and although that’s definitely true, it is “intense curiosity” what I’m talking about in this post.

In 2011, Forbes published an article from August Turak titled “Steve Jobs and the One Trait All Innovative Leaders Share” where he covers this topic and says that Mr. Jobs “[…] wasn’t curious about things that would make him successful. He was successful because he was so curious.”

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Here are five ways curiosity makes some people highly successful:

  1. Curiosity pushes you to go in depth rather than staying on the surface. One thing is to fantasize about science fiction, and a totally different one is to make going to Mars or flying cars something practically feasible. The difference between being a wannabe and being a doer is not the ability to execute but the drive that curiosity injects in people.
  2. Curiosity kills procrastination. When you are intensely curious, the itch is both exhilarating and painful. Neuroscientists Ranganath and Jepma found that curiosity can be unpleasant until you find the solution to the problem. This type of unstoppable drive moves people from daydreaming to real action.
  3. Curiosity leads to relationships. For those who are introverts and on the nerdy side, only curiosity helps breaking the ice. If you walk into a networking opportunity, just be curious about other people in the room. If you use the old “hello, my name is”… and you go to “what’s your name, and what do you do?”, rather than stopping there, ask “and what made you choose that path?”. Being curious about others’ paths, genuinely curious, will enable you to make long lasting relationships.
  4. Curiosity improves learning. All research studies show that curious people’s brains function differently. First, their eagerness to anticipate an answer or find a solution stimulates the reward system of the brain, which in turns prepares the hippocampus for learning. This part of the brain is involved in the creation of memories.
  5. Curiosity makes you wiser. My own research on wisdom revealed that we are all equipped to be wise, and wisdom becomes our GPS for complexity. Chamorro-Premuzic published in Harvard Business Review an article about CQ (curiosity quotient) where he explains why curiosity is even more important than intelligence. People with higher CQ welcome new experiences and are more tolerant to ambiguity, allowing them to produce simple solutions to complex problems. The more curious you are, the wiser you will become. It’s not only about knowledge or experience, it’s a combination of senses that are fed and nurtured at a faster pace through an intense sense of curiosity.

It was Einstein who said, “ I have no special talents, I’m only passionately curious”. #BeWise and be curious about other people, their needs, and possible solutions to the issues in their lives. You will be immersed in an intoxicating journey to improve other people’s lives. Intense and passionate curiosity could lead you to the biggest breakthrough of your life, the type of breakthrough that catapulted some individuals to the exclusive club of “highly successful people”. You could be next.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on April 30, 2017.