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2019-05-27 Issue 98 – Fundamental Behavior 21 – Be a lifelong learner
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
This quote was said by one of the most creative and curious people to have ever lived – Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Company has created entertainment since 1923. That entertainment (movies, theme parks, and television shows) has brought joy to millions of people across the world. And every idea from Disney started with two words – “What if…?”
- “What if toys were alive?” (Toy Story)
- “What if a puppet came to life and wished he were real?” (Pinocchio)
- “What if animals could talk?” (The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, etc.)
You are probably thinking, “What does a Disney movie about talking animals have to do with me and my life?” It is because asking “What if…” questions like the Disney employees leads to success. “What if…” is a question that comes from curiosity. Curiosity is defined as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” The act of learning keeps our brains sharp and improves our mental health overall.
Research has shown that when you learn something new, you re-shape your brain by creating new brain cells and making your current brain cells stronger. Learning something new today makes your brain better tomorrow.
So, it’s easy to say, “Be curious!,” but what does that actually mean? How can you “be curious?” Here are some easy-to-follow tips on how to become more curious in your personal and professional life.
- Pick an area/task in your department that you do not know a lot about. Ask your manager how you can learn more about that area/task.
- Pick an area in our company that you do not know a lot about. Ask your manager how you can learn more about that area.
- Pick a topic you always wanted to learn more about. Set aside 10 minutes a day to learn more about that topic – Read a book about it, research it online, or see if someone you know can talk to you about it.
Curiosity does not always mean you need to learn something new in your job. It could just mean learning a random fact. For example, most people think the largest desert in the world is the Sahara. But since a “desert” is defined as an area of land that receives fewer than 2 inches of rain/snow every year, the world’s largest desert is actually Antarctica.
Approaching the world with curiosity may be easier for some than others, so don’t worry if it seems overwhelming. Just start small. For example, one easy way to make sure you are constantly learning is, at the end of every day, write down the words “Today, I learned _____________” and then fill in the blank.
Maybe you learned one thing, maybe you learned six things – the number doesn’t matter. All that matters is you learned at least one new thing that day. Writing something down is the memory equivalent of reading it out loud seven times, so writing the new information down will help you remember it. This also gets you in the habit of always looking for something new to learn.
The most important thing to remember about curiosity is you have to take action. You cannot wait for a new opportunity or new information to just come to you randomly. You need to find new ways to learn new things.
Remember, all you need to do is ask yourself “What if…?” and follow your idea to learn something new, improve your brain, and improve your life.
VP, Organizational Excellence
YKK AP America Inc.