If I had to pick one thing I knew for certain my wife likes about me, it would be my inquisitive nature. She says it regularly. It’s because we’ll be talking about something and I’ll blurt out, “I wonder how that started,” or “Who do you think the first person to try that was,” or “I wonder if that’s because of <X>.” One of the reasons I love going to Disney World is because I like figuring out the Disney Magic. They push the limits of technology and engineering and I want to know how they got to those limits. But being inquisitive isn’t just about picking up fun facts or things to file away for pub quiz (or quizzo, or whatever it’s call near you). There are lots of ways being inquisitive has helped me, both personally and professionally.
So, I have a couple of drafts that are essentially advice I want to give my daughter. It’s about high time I finish and publish them. Here’s the first.
Ask a lot of Questions
I’m not quite sure where I got my inquisitive nature from, but I know I ask a lot of questions. I ask questions about basically anything I don’t know much about (and things I know a lot about, for that matter). Look at the world and ask, “How does that work?” Wondering how something works will lead you down the path of learning. You’ll be come more well rounded, knowledgeable, and it will give you a greater appreciation for everything around you.
My parents say I was always like this, but I can recall one vivid moment where I though, “I need to learn about more stuff outside of my professional field.” A few friends and I were at a weekend long summer party and we were outside just kind of looking up at the night sky; they lived in the country and you could really see the stars. We started to discuss a bunch of different topics, space, general physics, computers, etc. It became very apparent to me that my friends were more well-rounded than I was, so I decided to learn more. Speaking of…
You Will Learn More
This seems obvious right? If you ask about stuff, you’ll learn stuff. But it’s more than just asking a casual questions. It’s about actively listening, coming up with follow-up questions, and being genuinely interested in the topic at hand. This will ensure that you won’t just forget everything as soon as you leave the room. Furthermore, it will make you a better conversationalist.
You Will Have Better People Skills
If you’re listening and asking questions, you will have better conversations. Better conversations means you’re developing better people skills, which are becoming more valuable. People skills allow you to expand your network, forge real connections, and make you more articulate. In a world where in-person communication is a scarce, coveted skill, you will stand out.
You will be Better at Your Job
No matter what you end up doing, being inquisitive means having different perspectives. Aside from making you a better person, it will make you better at your job because you will be able to approach problems differently from your coworkers. As both a programmer and a teacher, I’m confident that being inquisitive has allowed me to think of things that others have not.
Finally, Being Inquisitive is Fun!
…maybe not for everyone. But I love learning. Aside from the benefits listed above (with virtually no downside), it’s fun to learn from other people and figure out how things work. An active mind is a healthy mind, and figuring out how the world works means you’ll never be bored.