How Curiosity Makes Us Successful
Learn More, Know Less
Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is he talking about?!”
When I first heard that phrase I thought it was, as my mother would say, gobbledygook; nonsense.
But then I got curious.
“Lookout NHL, Here I Come!”
Did you ever play sports?
What sport did you enjoy most?
When I was 7 years old my father took me to my first ice hockey practice.
I was so excited.
I was a natural, picking up skating with ease, and I loved watching the Flyers games on TV with my Dad.
The first practice was on a Saturday morning, and it was a perfect fall day. The air was crisp and although the sun was shining brightly, the temperature was cool and comfortable.
As we walked across the parking lot, towards the red door marked “Players Only”, my Dad looked at me and said “…act like you don’t know anything about playing hockey; don’t be a ‘know-it-all’…”
I said, “But I don’t know how to play hockey” because I knew that’s what he wanted to hear; but inside I was thinking, “What the heck was that supposed to mean?”
Had I just received some sort of rebuke?
As I got ready, putting on my pads, skates and jersey I couldn’t get that statement out of my head. I was perplexed. Was my Dad talking trash??
Ok, full disclosure: I didn’t know what “talking trash” was at that age, but if I did I would’ve thought it.
Of course, you know, he wasn’t talking trash. In fact, it turned out to be the best advice he could’ve given me at the time.
See, I knew a lot about hockey - the rules, the players, the terminology. I could skate better than most at my age, and was comfortable enough with a stick when we were shooting around in the driveway…so this should be a breeze.
I knew what I was doing.
And had I stepped onto the ice with that mentality, it surely would’ve hindered my growth.
Instead, I have enjoyed a 30-year relationship with the game that has enabled me to play both internationally and with some of the NHL’s greatest names (great from the perspective of a Flyers fan, anyway!)
I Repeat: Learn More, Know Less
So, where did that phrase come from?
I first heard this phrase on an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast, where Tim was interviewing the author Neil Strauss.
One of the questions Tim always asks his guest is “If you could put anything on a billboard, what would it be?” to which Neil replied: “Learn More, Know Less”
We often approach large events with curiosity. We wonder:
· What would it be like to fly to the moon?
· Will my child’s first steps happen today?
· Where might this road lead me? (pre-GPS)
Yet, in our everyday lives we’re generally not that curious.
· We “know” traffic is going to be horrendous;
· We “know” something is going to need fixing;
· We “know” this meeting is pointless.
We “know” all these things – and look where it gets us.
What if we were more curious about those last three things?
What if we used our curiosity to change our pattern of thinking from “what’s wrong” to “what could be good”?
This perspective shift is called “reframing” in psychological terms, and it enables us to become more creative, more resourceful, and more effective at problem solving.
For example, a traffic jam is an excellent opportunity to hear a few more minutes of an audio book or podcast. Here’s what I’m listening to currently.
It might even be an opportunity to spend a few more precious moments with your passenger (usually, my family).
So many parents, whose children are grown and parents of their own now, say they’d give anything for one more car ride to school with their son or daughter.
Having recently visited some of the most impoverished parts of South Africa, I can say with confidence that “having a home to fix” is most certainly an aspiration of a huge chunk of this globe…but do we see it that way?
What if we did?
What if instead of deciding that ‘this meeting at work’ is pointless, we got curious about what could be good about it?
This is something that requires deliberate practice, and while at first it may feel “clunky” and unnatural, with time we can break the negative patterns in our life.
As you practice this, you may even feel a sense of calm. You’ll feel more powerful, more deliberate in your response to situations.
When you choose to respond, rather than react, you take control.