Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Keep Asking Questions Until Something Interesting Happens

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Brian Grazer (who has produced films such as Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and most recently the James Brown biopic Get on Up) aims to show how curiosity is a driving force behind success at life and work - perhaps even more so than innovation and creativity – in his book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.

‘Curiosity conversations’ had by Grazer with various visionaries over a number of decades informed not only the book, but are also claimed to be the creative inspiration behind many of Grazer’s movies and TV shows. His approach to these conversations was simple: “keep asking questions until something interesting happens.”

He argues that people should invest more in their natural curiosity and actively seek out different perspectives for self-improvement. This means talking to people, all sorts of people, who have different backgrounds and different ways of looking at the world, and listening – really listening – and taking it all in. In Grazer’s words, the result: “I seek out their perspective and experience and stories, and by doing that, I multiply my own experience a thousandfold.”

Grazer shared some of his insights on curiosity in a recent interview with CNET. I’ve borrowed (and elaborated) a handful here.
  • Curiosity is a process of asking open-ended, genuine questions, and not expecting anything in return.
  • Being curious takes courage. Sometimes it means stepping outside of your comfort zone and climbing a steep learning curve.
  • Curiosity can bring discomfort, such as when you’re exposed to a point of view that’s in conflict with your own. It can be confronting, but it can also be a valuable experience.
  • When it comes to conditions for evoking curiosity, technology is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. When you meet with someone, there’s a physical connection, a biochemical event that breeds discussion, ideas and questioning.

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