Finding new solutions is a process of discovery that starts with curiosity. Now here is the rub. Our brains conserve energy. So if you are going along conserving brain energy…on automatic pilot, you are not using your curiosity. You are simply covering familiar territory.
Curiosity is a muscle that needs exercise, and exercise requires energy and a willingness to work through a bit of discomfort. If you wanted to exercise and strengthen your shoulders, you would know how to begin. But what about exercising your curiosity?
Here are a couple of things you can try.
Find a place to doodle or write your musings down. Don’t worry about grammar or writing whole sentences. You simply want to capture your random thoughts. Capture them anyway that works for you. Draw pictures, write bullet points…take notes in a way that let’s you quickly capture your thoughts.
- Generate “what if” questions …questions that cause you to go beyond your first impulse to think “what about this is relevant to me?” “Do I agree or disagree?” Simply start with “what if I change this to…what then?”
- Put aside the “how to” part of your thinking to be curious. Yes, that’s hard to do. We are such creatures of doing. Our reflexive urge is to make things happen! Hold off for a bit. Willingly put aside the urge to settle on a course of action until you’ve explored lots of options.
- Play with a different way of listening. What if we created something called EMERGENT PERSPECTIVE LISTENING…listening with the intention of stretching our boundaries, letting new bits of information inform another way of looking at something that is juicy. Raw. Unformed. A starting point for fresh thinking.
- Have you ever played MadLibs? MadLibs are a fun improvisational game where you substitute random words in the text of a story. Try a riff on the concept…take seemingly unconnected bits of information…and play with combining them in a variety of ways. What is interesting as a result? What captures your imagination?
What happens when you get curious with no attachment to how you will use what you are discovering?
It is disruptive!
What if you acknowledge the discomfort and do it anyway?
Think of it as exercise and building your curiosity muscle.