Everything that I know about Curiosity

avnishanand
5 min readJan 21, 2024

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Curiosity is one of my favourite traits. Based on some of the curiosity tests that I have discovered in life and the feedback from people who know me well, I think I am reasonably curious. Because of my curiosity, I have discovered a lot of things about curiosity :-). I decided to write it down so that it’s all in one place.

There is not a formula to become curious. If I knew that, I would have created an online course or become a curiosity guru :-). You could even say that this post is going to be permanently a WIP thing. I will keep updating it as and when I discover new aspects about curiosity.

Curiosity from the heart and not just the mind.

I have worked on empathy and building connections but had never made the connection with curiosity. Understood this from two books ( Seek by Scott Shigeoka and How to know a person by David Brooks ).

Curiosity is critical to building meaningful connections with people. A mandatory condition for a meaningful connection is. knowing the. person very well. For that you have to be genuinely curious in that person and make a serious attempt to ask questions and get to know them. You will not stop at asking them about their name. You will want to know the meaning of their name and why their parents picked that name.

This has far reaching implications on all your relationships. For example, your curiosity enables you to become a good manager by helping you in getting to know your team members really well. It’s a crucial part of building trust and practising Radical Candor. Similarly it can help you in many other relationships.

This also helps us to understand what curiosity really is. Curiosity is not just a brain function. It’s not only about collecting information and facts. It’s also about the heart. About being genuinely interested in people and making the effort to. know them well and building meaningful connections with them.

Curiosity and Innovation

One of the most important work skills in the age of AI is the ability to find insights. To see things others don’t notice. To find problems others miss. This requires chasing after every piece of information or data point which looks like an outlier. This requires going deep to understand the why and how to explain the what. These are classic traits of curious people.

Curiosity and Efficiency dont go hand in hand

We saw how curiosity helps innovation in the previous point. This comes with a cost. Remember this. Curiosity has a fundamental conflict with efficiency and productivity. Often a lot of curious investigation leads to nothing. You can’t be selectively curious and only research topics which are useful in some way. You often research the most inane things.There is no output to show for your time and energy. In the short term curiosity can be very inefficient. But overall, in the long term, curiosity can be very effective.

Curiosity can also be a distraction. Sometimes you have a task to finish but something could catch your attention and you stop your task and get lost researching that interesting new thing. You often lose sense of time and realise you have been up all night studying the many hairstyles of David Beckham.

Genuine and Fake Curiosity

Very very important. Curiosity only works if it’s genuine. You can’t fake it.

Curiosity and Diversity

Curiosity has high correlation with diversity. You are ready to go down any rabbit hole. Random things catch your attention. You can’t decide the topics you want to be curious about. Novelty is a crucial part of curiosity and it naturally leads to diversity. In fact diversity is a great test of curiosity. If your exposure – the content you consume, the people you meet, the topics you research, the books you are reading – doesn’t have enough diversity, then trust me you are not very curious.

Curiosity about yourself

Curiosity isn’t just about others. You can also be curious about yourself. The history of your family. The things that have shaped you. Your emotional triggers. Your motivations. Your strengths and weaknesses. Your body and what impacts your health and your metabolism. Curiosity about yourself leads to more reflection and more. and can be life altering.

Now for the big question. How to become more curious ? I don’t have all the answers. Just sharing whatever I know.

How to become curious

Curiosity and Humility

While I don’t have a playbook to help someone become curious, there a few ithings which definitely help. One such thing is humility. If you are humble, then you will realise your limitations. All the things that you don’t know. All the things that you are bad at. This will spur you to seek answers. You will become more curious.

There is more. Humility helps curiosity. In turn, curiosity increases your humility. If you are curious, you will soon learn how much you don’t know. With this realisation you lose your false pretensions. As a result you develop humility.

Curiosity and humility are like a virtuous cycle. A good starting point. to increase curiosity is to develop humility.

Motivation for curiosity

Motivation is the most effective way to bring any kind of change. Same for developing curiosity. A useful question to ask yourself is why you want to be curious. How will it help you achieve the things you are chasing in life. Once you find the answer, write it down. This will create motivation. If you can’t find an answer, then you have other issues to deal with first.

Scientific and Childlike

If you want to be curious, you have to be ready to be proven wrong. Ready to change your beliefs and assumptions. Ready to accept that everything you knew about something was all wrong. This is what Adam Grant calls a scientific mindset in the book, Think Again. Like a scientist. The likes of Daniel Kahneman actually celebrate being proven wrong.

Children have no inhibitions. They ask questions about whatever is on their mind. They don’t care what anybody thinks about their question. This is a very useful trait to become more curious.

Increase your Diversity

Deliberate diversity with a scientific mindset can help build curiosity. This also increases your humility as you discover how much you don’t know and how smart other people are.

Curiosity is Contagious

If you hang out with curious people , their curiosity will very quickly rub off on you. You will learn from and copy their obsessiveness. They will talk about interesting things and it will slowly pique your interest. There will be more diversity in your life.

My favourite curiosity question

Tell me more

Trust me it’s powerful and very effective.

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