Over the next few months we will be discussing the 15 laws of growth from John Maxwells book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. We will discuss one law per week and sum it up at the end with a complete call to action.
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not. – George Bernard Shaw
We are all born with curiosity. Being around young kids is proof of this. They constantly want to know how things work or why they are the way they are. Kids rarely accept things at face value, an explanation is almost always required.
Somewhere along the way, a lot of us lose this natural curiosity. At some point, it stops becoming cute to question everything in the world. Parents, teachers and coaches begin to get impatient with having to answer never ending questions and start to tell you to do it “because I said so”. But Maxwell says that in order to grow, we have to get our curiosity back.
If the people in our lives slowly take our natural curiosity away from us, is it possible to get it back? Maxwell says it is, and offers ten tips for cultivating your curiosity:
1. Believe You Can Be Curious
Just as with anything else in life, your ability to be curious starts with your belief in yourself. While this may seem simple or cheesy, if you have spent your whole life being told to stop asking so many questions and just do what someone tells you, believing you can be curious may not be easy.
Curiosity starts with your own mindset. Believe you are both allowed and able to be curious in all aspects of your life.
2. Have a Beginner’s Mind-Set
When you first begin something, whether it’s a job, a sport, a class or anything else, it is natural to be curious and ask questions. Most people don’t expect you to step into something new knowing all the answers. But as we gain experience, we are expected to stop with the questions and curiosity.
Maxwell says that in order to grow, we must keep our beginners mind-set. Instead of being a know it all who see themselves as experts, beginners spend their time asking questions like “how can we do this better or more efficiently”.
3. Make “Why” Your Favorite Word
The most important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. – Albert Einstein
Maxwell says that is we become more and more successful, we start believing we should have answers for other people. But as he found out in his own career, we are much more useful when we are asking questions.
Don’t accept things as they are. Ask why to everything. You may annoy some people, but you will cultivate your curiosity and stimulate your growth.
4. Spend Time with Other Curious People
You will end up like those you spend the most time with. If you want to remain curious and continue growing, spend your time with other curious, growing people.
Seek out people and groups who are constantly exploring new ideas. People who ask why and aren’t willing to accept things as they are simply because it’s how it has always been done.
5. Learn Something New Every Day
Maxwell says that the best way to remain curious is to begin each day with a determination to learn something new, experience something different, or meet someone you don’t already know.
Accomplishing this requires you to do three things every day:
- Wake up with an attitude of openness- You have to be open to experiencing new things.
- Keep your eyes and ears open- Curious, growing people remain focused while also staying on the lookout for new experiences.
- Reflection- New experiences do you no good if you don’t take the time to reflect what you learned from them.
6. Partake in the Fruit of Failure
If you are curious and trying new thing, you will experience plenty of failure. That’s OK. Maxwell says that curious people experience failure differently than everyone else. Where most people say failure as mistakes and weaknesses, curious people see mistakes as progress in getting where they want to go.
In order to cultivate our curiosity, we must embrace failure.
7. Stop Looking for the Right Answer
I’m horrible with directions, because of this, once I figure out a route to get somewhere, I will take that same route every single time, even if several better options are presented to me. Maxwell says this is the worst attitude you can have if you want to increase your curiosity.
We’ve all been around people who, like with my directions, live by the attitude “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This attitude kills curiosity. Instead, Maxwell suggests rephrasing it in three ways:
- If it ain’t broke, how can we make it better?
- If it ain’t broke, when is it likely to break in the future?
- If it ain’t broke, how long will it serve as the world changes?
8. Get Over Yourself
If curiosity causes failure, it likely means you will spend a decent amount of time looking foolish. Maxwells advice for this is get over yourself.
If we want to remain curious and growing, we must be willing to look foolish often. We have to be OK with asking stupid questions in front of other people. We have to put our egos aside and embrace looking or feeling ridiculous.
9. Get Out of the Box
There ain’t no rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something. – Thomas Edison
Rules, standards and regulations get in the way of our curiosity and creativity. We have to be willing and able to exploit them and think outside the box.
10. Enjoy Your Life
The race will go to the curious, the slightly mad, and those with an unsaturated passion for learning and daredevilry. – Tom Peters
According to Maxwell, the number one way to cultivate your curiosity is to enjoy your life. We are far more curious when we are involved with things we are passionate about and enjoy.
If our curiosity doesn’t involve things we enjoy, what’s the point?
Curious to the End
Curiosity is one of the biggest keys to personal growth. The thirst for knowledge and the desire for new experiences will naturally take us to levels of growth we never imagined.
Maxwell says that while most people become less curious with age, growing people remain curious to the very end.