Curious George was always getting into trouble. I guess the little monkey didn’t know or didn’t care that “curiosity killed the cat.” Comedian Steven Wright cares. He once said, “Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.” These perspectives suggest that curiosity is risky business. And maybe it’s true. But, without a healthy measure of curiosity, where would creativity come from? Curiosity is the seed of creativity. Maybe a candle metaphor is more appropriate.
“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” — William Arthur Ward
Where would we be, individually and collectively, without creativity? Creativity is not a special emotion reserved for the fine arts and the field of entertainment. It is woven into life itself, at least any life worth living. Without creativity, human life would be a robotic sort of pre-programmed existence — mediocre, monotonous and perhaps impossible.
“People die when curiosity goes.” — Graham Swift
In thinking of the challenges we face each day at work, creativity is without a doubt, a career requirement. Every new problem calls out for creative solutions. Without it, people would not be able to think outside the box and struggle seeing the options inside the box. What value do employees have who can’t bring creativity to bear on problems?
The language of our times suggests that we’ve become lazy with our curiosity. “Been there, done that” and “whatever” have replaced the exuberance of “Wow!” and “Cool!” I’m suspicious that fear of curiosity may be causing creativity to go into hibernation. Are you afraid to ask “Why?” or “What if?” questions. Whether its laziness or fear, when curiosity is absent, creativity and the ability to solve problems are right behind. Without realizing it, you have sabotaged your future.
Stimulating creativity is not difficult. Just break a few patterns. Try taking a different way to work or changing radio stations. Eat dinner at a different time or order something different from the menu. Talk to someone on an elevator. Read a book. Get up 30 minutes earlier. Learn a new word and use it in conversation. Attend a workshop. Call a friend you haven’t seen recently. Do something that’s hard. Add something to this list that your friends would think is strange. (Then, do it!)
When people are intentional about breaking patterns, curiosity returns and creativity grows again. When curiosity and creativity replace lazy habits and fear, people are able to see new opportunities and new solutions.
“One of the secrets of life is to keep our intellectual curiosity acute.”
— William Lyon Phelps
Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a secret, just a forgotten truth. All that’s needed is a reminder in a blog and a role model like Curious George to whip those creativity muscles back into shape.