Are you a curious person?
The cat may be dead, but you are very much alive.
When I interview someone for the podcast, I often preface questions with the following phrase:
At this point, I do it without even thinking. Over the years I have found that leading with these simple two words, and a genuine curiosity behind them, allows me to ask some really odd or painfully direct questions of complete strangers. And they are happy to answer them!
As the father of a two-year-old, I often find myself in complete awe of my son’s curiosity. He’s totally fearless. He’s completely unencumbered by worries of what other people think or what is “possible” for him to accomplish. He simply puts himself out there. He tries and he fails. But he always gets back up again and tries again. Often with a sly smile.
When did we all stop acting like that? And why?
Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase:
Curiosity killed the cat.
I have no idea where this phrase originated (and I have no care to Google it and find out), but this is the message we teach our kids. This is how we rob them of that unbridled joy and turn them into – well – us. We teach them that if they are curious and “stick their nose where it doesn’t belong” that they will literally die. This means that they shouldn’t put themselves out there. They shouldn’t try new things. They should play it safe.
Sure, we also say that cats have nine lives. But humans only have one.
If you look at people around you, how many dead cats do you see? How many people have been beaten down by the world and have had their curiosity pounded out of them?
Not sure how to spot them? They say things like this:
I don’t have time for that.
I’ll get back into it when my kids go to college.
I started to try it but was told I wouldn’t be any good, so I stopped.
I’d love to give it a try, but I probably won’t be good at it.
I know – depressing!
It’s time we all woke up and realized that life isn’t happening to us. We are in control and can make a real dent in the universe if we only embrace our natural curiosities. Having a curious mindset means that you are willing to try, fail and learn repeatedly and without giving a damn about what other people might think. Curiosity is having the strength to admit you don’t know something and the gumption to go out and fill that knowledge gap.
For me, I’d rather live and then die at the hand of my curiosity than to live forever without knowing the joy of unearthing a new experience.
What about you? How often do you approach things from a curious mindset? Do you find yourself stopping short of an uncomfortable question? Do the echoes of some past external voices stop you from taking the leap and trying something new?
Preface that next difficult question with, “I’m curious” and you’ll be amazed at what you can get other people, and yourself, to open up about and share. Curiosity is the ultimate conduit for empathy and joy.