“We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.” - Carl Sagan
Do you know someone who has an answer for everything? You share an anecdote, observation or emotion, and they’ve got a solution to share. Classically dubbed, know-it-alls, these folks are universally regarded as annoying, but there may actually be something a bit more sinister going on. Their insecurity may be perpetuating a status quo culture of “knowing” versus “asking.”
Innovation and growth, both as individuals and in society, requires a creative and curious mindset and without it we personally and culturally stagnate. Tales from our past often warn of those who were curious and asked questions -- Eve and the Apple; Pandora and the box -- but we’ve come too far now as a society to go back to not value asking “why” questions that challenge authority.
The greatest achievements of our time come from creative questions and a driving curiosity to solve them. Why does the apple fall from the tree? How did life begin? What makes us human? And the value of curious questioning holds in our personal lives as well. What do I value? How would I live if I were to die in a year? How am I making the world a better place?
In fact, on an individual level, curious people learn more, are better at relationships and are positively motivated for personal growth and development. Curious about cultivating curiosity? If so, read on for 5 ways to become a person who values questions over answers.
Get to Know Strangers & Acquaintances
How many times in our lives do we have shallow conversations with those around us? What if, instead of chatting about the weather, you asked someone about their family or what they did on their weekend and really listened to the response, asked relevant follow questions and tried to understand the world inside their head? Challenge yourself to have real conversations with people you see daily and connect with them on a deeper level.
Increase Personal Creativity
We all feel self conscious about our own creative abilities. Let yourself be a kid again. Let yourself be bad at art or writing or music. Doing work in these creative areas can be fun and enlivening. Don’t let fear of failure or looking silly stop you from tapping into parts of yourself that think abstractly and enjoy these simpler pleasures of life. Realize that you are unique and find a way to express that creatively.
You can’t be curious or creative when you’re stuck in a rut. If you do the same thing, every weeknight, and have been doing it for over a year, bust it up. Go to a movie in the middle of the week. Go to the art museum after work. Invite a new person out for drinks or coffee. Read a book. Change your schedule. In fact, Annie Murphy Paul, author of the book Brilliant: The New Science of Smart believes morning routines are creativity killers. So switch up the post alarm clock routine as well.
Recognize Curiosity Killers
According to CuriousMind.com, there are “veils of incuriosity” or ways in which answer-a-holics like to justify their lack of engagement. People keeping curiosity at bay tend to value:
Never Stop Learning
Be willing to go forth and learn new things without concern about looking foolish or end results. You don’t have to become a stain glass artist to enjoy a class. Engage eagerly in the process of learning new things and failing at them too. You’re never too old to try acquiring a new skill. Besides, it’ll keep your mind sharp.
But whether it “advances” your career and life or not, being curious will help you feel engaged and happy. You have our permission to take time out of your busy schedule to play, be creative and learn. Bring curiosity back into your life.