Curiosity is a funny thing.
We are ambivalent towards its value.
In some circles, like the scientific, academic and traditional art worlds, curiosity is celebrated, courted and encouraged.
Somehow, in a more general social or typical organisational setting, curiosity goes uncelebrated. Curious individuals are scorned as nosy or cautioned that their inquisitiveness is an open invitation to danger.
“Curiosity killed the cat.” Nine lives is no protection at all.
This familiar, modern (misused) proverb is used to warn of the hazards of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.
It is wielded as a warning that uninvited inquiry and sticking your nose where it does not belong can lead to terrible danger.
It is a reminder to stick to what you know, remain in your box and keep safe.
How safe is that safe?
Staying safe did not put a man on the moon.
Times have changed. More than ever, the peril lies in staying safe.
Today staying safe in your comfort zone, surrounded by the soothing familiar sounds of your echo chamber, is the riskiest thing you can do. These days safe, snug and comfy will guarantee you membership of the tribe of “Left-Behinds”. Your one way ticket to insignificance.
I do not write this to panic you.
You might be doing fine, great even. But every now and then one must go beyond the comfort zone, over the edge of what you know to ward off the malaise of sameness and stay relevant.
Curiosity is a necessary ingredient for the creativity you and I are looking for.
To begin you will need to warm up your curiosity muscle. To do that, you will need to take a little trip with me.
Ready? Let’s go.
You are about to experience a journey of observation and discovery.
This is journey all the more special in this era of the ever-constant social media newsfeed. You know what I mean; that helpful algorithm calculating your preferences, feeding you carefully curated titbits for your convenience or, perhaps, your compliance?
Step out of your own echo chamber or, worse, the echo chamber created by others. Allow yourself the wonderful freedom of drawing your own conclusions.
Discover the unique value of skewed, divergent and different perspectives and to find meaning in the unlikeliest of places.Use your curiosity to gift yourself the freedom of drawing your own conclusions Click To Tweet
This approach is not for those who like the taste of instant gratification. You will be disappointed.
There is no hack here, but rather a loose guide that leads to new places and a broadening of your horizons.
There are no rules here. I simply share what I have tried, show you ideas I have discovered and possible avenues you can pursue.
This is not for the short-cut junkie. Be prepared for a long-haul trip. You will need to be surprisingly tough-minded and resilient to practise it.
Before we proceed any further, are you sure that you want to be more creative, bubble with ideas or perhaps even become wildly inventive?
Stop waiting on a coach, trainer, facilitator, your boss, HR, an online guru, The Muse or other celestial intervention.
You are the expert here. You already have everything you need. Best of all, it is FREE.
Your curiosity is waiting to be activated.
Venture outside of your area of expertise or regular job. You need a space to free-think without the pressure of deadlines or obligations. Get in the zone where the outcome doesn’t matter. This is your laboratory where you are free to play, experiment with new approaches and have fun failing and learning.
Go cross-discipline adventuring. This will help to remove the blinkers of conventional thinking and inspire fresh ideas. Here is an example of one of my adventures to see the master makers at work glassblowing.
Head down the rabbit hole, follow that lead, chase that crumb of interestingness. Hang around for a while to percolate ideas, the random and more seemingly unconnected the better.
Look for meaning in the many mysterious places in our world, sometimes hidden right under our noses tucked inside the ordinary and the everyday. Observe, ask questions and question everything. Declutter your mind by unlearning what no longer serves a purpose. Make room to learn fresh mind-sets and approaches that will cultivate your creativity.
Press on, keep observing and exploring. Don’t stop – ever.
Seek out different-thinking folk because they will help to keep you humble and expand your horizons to the outer limits. Share what you discover and learn what they have found. Don’t shy away from the different and the odd. Collect them and build menagerie of ideas, alternative approaches and different thinking. Make connections out of the uncommon, and as if my magic your well of creativity will begin to fill up and your inventiveness will flow.
Hold on. We are not there as yet. You have not reached your journey’s end.
Goals and targets are important, but not here. It is the long journey that matters more.
Passion is fuel for a sprint but for this marathon you will need your curiosity by the bucket full.
“Forget about the notion of passion, and give your attention to your curiosity. Passion burns hot and fast, which means it can come and go. Curiosity is so accessible and available, every single day of my life […] But most of the time, when you’re stuck, you can think, Is it possible that you can’t find one little tiny thing in the world that is interesting to you? […] But it’s also a cultivated skill, to learn to acknowledge and respect your curiosity.” Elizabeth Gilbert in NYmag/Science of Us.
Use your curiosity to build your creativity muscle over time.
The only equipment you will need is your brain and your determination. The only muscle group you will be working on is your mind and your creativity.
How to Cultivate Your Curiosity and Be More Creative
Start small with a habit forming daily practise.
Steal these 2 daily practise ideas and begin to cultivate your curiosity so your creativity can flourish.
1. The Alice in Wonderland Mindfulness Method courtesy of the White Queen.
All you need is 30 minutes per day, ideally before breakfast. Close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Open your mind to “impossible things”.
“I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s not use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Chapter 5 in ‘Through the Looking Glass’, by Lewis Carroll.
2. The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine shared by James Altucher
In this guide, he shares the inside scoop how to build your idea muscle with a daily practise of writing down at least 10 ideas a day. The keys to success with this practise are:
A) Consistent daily practise (build it into routine – before checking your email or social media accounts).
B) Writing down the ideas – old school style using a pen and note pad is highly recommended.
I was skeptical of the creativity muscle building benefits until I read this testimonial.
With nothing to lose and potentially much to gain, I have started using my own ideas note book. I am 2 weeks into my new exercise regime. My mind muscles hurt and sticking to the daily practise is tough.
Some days I do not manage to write down 10 ideas – and that is OK. I am averaging 5 ideas per day which is better than the daily 0-3 when I started.
Every day it gets a tiny bit easier to write more ideas. I guess that means my creativity muscle is slowing building.
Go on, try one of these daily practises and turn it into a positive habit.
Perhaps you have your own daily practise that is working for you. I would love to hear all about it.
Get curious and be more creative.