Curiosity - Everyone is born with some degree of curiosity. From a very young age, we see babies staring at their environment, wondering what this big wide world is all about. They could pull at a strangers' hair because it looks different or they would touch the skin of an old person because it is intriguing. As toddlers their curiosity grows. It may result in a child pouring water into dads’ shoes or being fascinated by a fire and wondering what the fire feels like? We've seen children put their hands in a fire. Now we know why. As teens, the same curiosity causes them to explore things like alcohol, relationships or travel.
Unfortunately for many, the natural instinct to be curious is curbed at a young age in the name of instilling discipline. The good news is that curiosity is innate/inborn. So it remains alive, although dormant and undeveloped in many.
WHAT IS "CURIOSITY"?
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Curiosity is “The desire to learn or know about anything; Inquisitiveness; An eager desire to know; Something strange or fascinating”.
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Curiosity Fuels Inventions
For many centuries, curiosity has led to some of the greatest inventions humanity has ever experienced. It led the Wrights brothers to explore building an aircraft with controls. It has also inspired aircraft manufacturers to continue to push the boundaries of possibility with aircrafts.
Curiosity took Christopher Columbus on an exploration where he stumbled across America. Curiosity led Thomas Edison to invent the light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell to invent the Telephone, Eli Whitney to invent cotton, and Henry Ford the automobile. Many more.
In more recent years, we have Elon Musk and the Tesla Electric Car, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, James Dyson and the bagless vacuum cleaner, Tim Berners Lee and the Internet, Steve Jobs and Apple… all these inventions have revolutionised the way we live. Coming back home, Jumia, Gokada and even Nollywood as an industry are results of someones' curiosity.
It usually starts with “I wonder if” or “I wonder how”. And then the adventure starts. Without curiosity, there is no adventure (which for the sake of formality, I would also call the adventure the research journey). Without adventure, there is definitely no invention. As entrepreneurs, we use the same power of curiosity and adventure to develop new products and new services.
RE-IGNITING YOUR CURIOSITY
Unfortunately, many have somewhat lost the natural ability to remain curious. "Discipline" has boxed us into a hole ends up that ends up defining our world and our total existence. We have been programmed to accept just because we are told so.
The good news is that curiosity can be re-ignited. Just like a muscle can be built by starting with gentle exercises; and gradually and consistently building up. We can re-ignite our curiosity instincts by starting gradually and building up.
Here are 4 very practical things you can do to re-ignite those natural instincts:
- Allow your mind to wander. In a world where there are so many distractions and the mind is never allowed to be free and quiet, allowing the mind to wander is actually more difficult than it sounds. The first step to achieving this is finding or creating your "quiet zone" - stripped of any form of distraction; a zone where you have the time and space to just be. Oftentimes, my best ideas come when I am out walking. I walk without my phone and without music. And I prefer to walk solo. My mind wanders from the admiration of trees; to the design of houses to puddles of water. Sometimes, I wander about a current situation (good or bad) that I am facing at work/home. I never "force" what my mind wanders about, I simply allow it to go on the journey that it chooses. The journey starts or progresses in those few minutes and you will never know where it will end up.
- Read broadly. Reading expands the mind and you start to discover things you don't know and things that intrigue you. Remember your minds journey. As you read and navigate beyond your current knowledge, the mind will often ask “how or why or what”…. This is one of the key building blocks of curiosity.
- Research deeply. It doesn’t stop with reading and allowing the mind to question. It is important to follow up some of those questions with further researching. We know that the Wrights brothers where not the first to fly a plane. But they asked “why”. Why can’t this do more? Why can’t this be better controlled? And so on. And they went to find out more. This takes us deeper into the curiosity journey.
- Try (and be ready to fail). It is great to have all this knowledge, but the curiosity journey doesn't end there. Doing is key. Every product we know and see today is a result of someone choosing to try-out that “crazy” idea in their head. Many "failed"... multiple times. But as we know, Failure is only the process of eliminating one approach that doesn’t yield the original desired result. It is part of the process, so it is important to try and try and try again.
The steps above are not necessarily linear. They are better arranged as a loop which means that there is no start or end points. Even when we think we have our "Eureka" moment, curiosity causes us to say "what if"... and the improvement loop continues. The Apple computer we see today is certainly not the same that was launched back then. The first versions were iconic items in their times and cannot possibly be called a "failed" product. But curiosity makes Apple and other companies to continue to re-invent.
Now, it's your turn to start dreaming; re-ignite your natural instinct of curiosity; start the adventure in your mind and we hope you create something that will change your world.
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