A friend told me that there are basically two kinds of people the world: those who are interested in learning and those who are not. Some who are not interested in learning think that they already know everything they need to know. Others are just not interested in moving outside the scope of what is known to them because it exceeds their comfort zone. And some are afraid to explore the unknown for fear of making mistakes or being seen as foolish.
As children, we grow and learn by being curious. It is how we discover ways to navigate the world and how we add information to our store of knowledge. In a system where more value is placed on having correct answers rather than on inquisitive thought, curiosity is trained out of us, and we are directed to try to understand the past rather than look toward exploring new experiences. This narrowing of focus occurs in some families, businesses, and school systems, and it inhibits creative inquiry.
People are often afraid to ask questions for fear of being judged as ignorant or incompetent. But it is more likely that asking questions will improve another person's opinion of you rather than diminish it. Research indicates that when we are curious about others, they tend to like us more, see us as interested and caring, and it often leads to more meaningful connections with increased trust.
Curious people are willing to be open, make mistakes, and take in new information that may rattle their sense of security. They seek to understand the perspectives of others, are willing to sit with ambiguity, and they look for collaborative resolution rather than blaming or judging. According to the Harvard Business Review, “when our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more creative solutions.” Curiosity gives us fresh eyes, the ability to see something from a different perspective, whereas judgement attempts to fit what we see into our existing system of filters. Albert Einstein once described himself as "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
When a protagonist in Larry McMurty's novel Rhino Ranch wondered if he was smart enough to go back to school, he was told, “Oh, you’re smart enough—plenty smart enough…. But you are not curious enough. That is the problem. If you are not curious enough and do not really want to learn then there is no reason for you to learn. You would just be a burden on the teacher”.