In this latest installment of his “Unemployable Millionaire” series, Rich Tozzoli discusses how your natural curiosity can help you be more successful in business and life.
When NASA names a Mars Rover “Curiosity,” there must be something otherworldly about the word. Curiosity is something we can all benefit from by letting our minds open to new options and possibilities. Embracing and exploring curiosity can directly translate into enhanced creativity and profitability in our work.
Embracing curiosity means letting your imagination run wild. In Time magazine’s The Science Of Creativity edition, author Walter Isaacson’s article “Learning from Leonardo” explores a number of ways to learn from the great Leonardo da Vinci. In it, he notes “Part of what made Leonardo a genius, what set him apart from people who are merely extraordinarily smart was creativity—the ability to apply imagination to intellect.” He continues, “Leonardo was also a very human genius—quirky, obsessive, playful and easily distracted. He made mistakes. He went off on tangents, literally. He left a trail of unfinished projects, among them flying machines that never flew, tanks that never rolled and a river that was never diverted.”
Isaacson also noted that Leonardo was relentlessly curious, would seek knowledge for its own sake and retained a childlike sense of wonder. Part of what set him apart from others, and could help set you apart as well, is the combination of natural talent and the openness to let your mind run wild with curiosity.
Embracing curiosity also means being open to the feedback of others. While it’s taken years to develop, I have a powerful and diverse team around me whose opinions on various matters I trust. If there’s something I’m working on, be it a piece of music I’m writing or an article I’m working on, I will often send it out to one or more of them for feedback. Sometimes, what comes back at you is not so pleasant, or something that you might not want to hear. But the reason I rely on my team is because they don’t sugar coat things when I seek their opinions.
To get the most out of this feedback, I’ll sift through what they say and take what I need from it. It’s important not to take feedback personally, instead try to be interested in what it is telling you. Your end results could benefit greatly from this approach. Take the pain if it’s there and grow from it.
Turn Things Upside Down
One of my favorite Navy Seal mantras is “break things and rebuild them.” Take your ideas and break them, turn them upside down, invert them and shake them up. I use this technique on a constant basis to give myself new options and possibilities in my work.
For example, my main computer music production platform Pro Tools offers me the option to take a piece of audio and literally reverse it. It warps and twists my work in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. To this day I still hear many of my pieces featuring this technique on television shows. Reversing the musical idea creates a dreamy, hypnotic sound that fits certain scenes perfectly. By being curious about turning things upside down, breaking them and rebuilding them into something new, you can literally help your bottom line by going somewhere new.
One way to shake up your curiosity is to take classes on subjects you know little about. Aside from the myriad options on the internet, one of my favorite sources for this type of exploration is the online school MasterClass. I’ve studied film scoring with Hans Zimmer, rocket science with space shuttle commander Chris Hadfield, journalism with Bob Woodward and, since I love to cook, Indian cooking with seven-time James Beard Award winner Madhur Jaffrey. In her class she notes that “spices are like paints in a paint box.”
With that in mind, take some classes online or in person. Through this form of curiosity, I’ve awakened my senses through sights, colors and ideas that stir my imagination. Then, by applying the disparate elements of what I’ve learned in all these classes and blending them all together, I turn them into transformational energy in my work.
You can do this as well. Turn curiosity into a multidimensional productivity tool. Embrace it, learn from it, and let it take you and your work to new places