In my job I network, a lot! The stand out people I meet are above all else inquisitive. They’re curious.
When LinkedIn asked me to write something as a part of its Publishing Community that might guide the graduating class of 2014, I thought I should share something I’d appreciate knowing #IfIWere22.
I’ll distill it to a single point – be passionate about learning. Take every person you meet and each situation you are in as an opportunity to develop insight and character. Dive into the unfamiliar. Volunteer. Immerse yourself in others. And choose what you do in your pastime, don’t just let time pass.
The reason being curious, or inquisitive, is so important is because it is a prerequisite for discernment. Research suggests we are bombarded by 3,000 to 20,000 pieces of information a day. To make any sense of even a faction of this, we have to have a solid platform of insight to appropriately cast off the irrelevant and absorb the rest. No-one can be expected to know everything, but having an appetite for knowledge is a great asset.
Unlike the movie Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson, who unlocks previously unexplored corners of the human mind, we actually use much more than the 10 per cent the movie suggests. The idea much of our brain is unused is a myth. On the contrary, we use it all, but only parts of it fire at any moment in order to conserve energy. In fact 20 per cent of daily glucose burnt by our bodies is the consequence of an inquisitive mind. Pretty amazing for such a relatively small part of the body that doesn’t do near the physical work of our four limbs.
The question is, how do you fostering inquisitive thinking?
Realise there are dumb questions, but it’s much worse not to ask when you’re unsure. A golden rule I live by is to project out into the future to understand all possible scenarios so that when action is required I can move quickly with purpose. A good chess player doesn’t wait for their opponent to make a move before pondering where they want to be themselves. So, read widely and talk to as many different people as you can to keep your brain agile. Ask lots of questions. The alternative is to sit like a stunned mullet or run around aimlessly without understanding your surroundings.
Focus on one thing at a time. Despite society glorifying the idea of multitasking, the human brain actually loses the ability to perform at its optimum as its attention is divided. That means if you are inquisitive, give yourself the time to dig into the area properly. Don’t just tip your toe in one pool while keeping your other in the sun.
Eat right! The brain is an engine. As mentioned earlier, it uses a lot of your body’s fuel to function. As with any engine, you need to stoke it with the right stuff. As I’ve got older, this has been a huge learning for me. So the saying goes, you are what you eat! Eat well.
Rest. If you are to revel in this challenge, you need to be ready for the tussle. That means giving your body (your brain) the chance to recharge. An average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night – some a little more, others a little less, but don’t kid yourself four or five hours over an extended period will do you any favours. A good work ethic also requires a good sleep ethic. That’s when your brain will be at its best.
– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter