Episode 76: Why Curiosity is the trademark of the Masters

There’s that old saying — Curiosity killed the cat. There are stories that warn of the dangers of curiosity, stretching back to Adam & Eve, Icarus & the sun, and Pandora’s Box. For much of western history, curiosity has been regarded as a negative, a distraction, even a poison. But when we look at the great Masters — of science, of art, of life wisdom — they all share one important trait in common. Curiosity.

This week, Clay and Sarah discuss the importance of Curiosity, what it can add to our lives and why it is the trademark of the great Masters.


In this episode:

* What is curiosity?

* Is it bad or good? An asset or a detriment to success?

* Masters who shared this trait – from Leonardo da Vinci, to Henry David Thoreau, from the Buddha to Socrates to Marie-Curie to Henry Miller

* How we might develop a sense of Curiosity in our own lives (and why we should want to)


”Perhaps it is curiosity — about anything and everything — that made me the writer I am.” So said Henry Miller.

And yet too often we are more concerned about knowing the answer, about being right or certain, than we are about remaining open in the way true Curiosity demands.

Ian Leslie who wrote a book entitled Curious argues that, “Sometimes I hear curiosity and creativity are killed by too many facts — but actually the opposite is true: the more you know the more you want to know… the more you know, the more connections you can make between the different bits of knowledge you have in your head.”

That’s the cool things about Curiosity. It allows learning to be open. And if we seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake, for the joy of learning something new, we are able to make new connections between things we hadn’t considered or believed to be related. New patterns emerge from old points. And this is where genius and mastery lie.

So why do we discount the importance of curiosity? Or worse, shun it as something that leads us astray? The reason is simple, claims Leslie. “Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or at least it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of the smart question nobody has yet thought to ask… In short, curiosity is deviant.”

The big Great of Curiosity has to be Leonardo da Vinci, who was basically as master of everything from human anatomy to art to the flight of birds, from mathematics and architecture to botany and cartography.  And amazingly, a book by Shlain on Leonardo’s brain, argues that it was the vast amount of connections between the two sides of da Vinci’s brain that allowed his genius to unfold.

It seems that while it is important to embrace the vast array of knowledge we have acquired about life and the world around us so far, an attitude of questioning and an approach of curiosity is an essential part of gaining wisdom…

So whether it’s trying to take a different route on the way to work, taking time to learn about the plants in your back garden or going on a greater adventure, we say embrace the joys of curiosity, of questioning, and of wondering for the sake of it…

Radio Warwickshire

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