25 Ways to Think Big

To those of us in the booth across the aisle, she was enchanting. A dark-haired girl, maybe five or six years old, full of spirit and inquiry.

Throughout most of the meal, she peppered her parents with an unending blast of questions.

“Why does that lady over there have pink hair?”

“Mommy, why is part of my egg yellow?”

“Daddy, when can I have my own phone?”

Her ceaseless curiosity impressed my lunch companion and me, both of us former business executives. How delightful to see someone so open to the world, so wanting to know.

The little girl’s parents became less and less receptive to her questions as their meal progressed. Finally, the father—in his best he-who-must-be-obeyed voice—told her she was making too much noise and must stop talking, right now. In response, the little girl slumped in her seat and silently spent the rest of the meal pushing her food around on her plate.

My companion and I exchanged knowing glances, having observed yet another example of societal pressure shutting people down, stifling their curiosity.

Curiosity is the engine of achievement. ~Ken Robinson, author and international advisor on education in the arts

Curiosity is something special. It’s us setting aside certainty and being open to learning more. If we’re receptive to know more, there’s a number of factors that trigger curiosity. Sometimes we:

  • Want to know more facts, terms, classifications, or general information.
  • Seek to know how things work or how a process occurs.
  • Wonder why things exist or why something happens as it does.
  • Are interested in knowing why what we see is inconsistent with what we know or what we think we know.
  • Speculate about cause and effect.
  • Want to know how things are constructed, made, or where they come from.

We can liken being curious as a door to something that’s unknown. Us opening the door says we’re willing to explore, discover, investigate, consider, learn, and innovate. If we decline to open the door, then our status quo—be it actions, thoughts, or feelings—remains the same.

Sometimes we choose not to open the door to the unknown. Other times, the choice to open the door and make the unknown known is barred, controlled, or discouraged by others through practice, fear, ideology, or regime.

No one knows for sure whether curiosity is a fixed trait or if being curious is something that can be learned. That lack of certainty leaves being curious as something we’re in charge of—a state of mind and heart we determine.

Curiosity makes us hate less, judge less, have more understanding, more compassion, happiness, and best of all: have more fun while we are at it! ~ Lenka Otap, computer scientist

As with man life, love, and leadership matters, we can foster our sense of curiosity by monitoring what we think, feel, and do. If being open to learning more about what we don’t know or understand is important to us, a multitude of actions are available to aid us in thinking big and holding on to curiosity. We can:

  • Never stop asking questions, especially open-ended ones.
  • Seek to understand, not judge.
  • Be willing to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Read and interact beyond our circle of interests.
  • Take/make time to daydream and wonder what if.
  • Talk to strangers.
  • Let of all of those what should be
  • Welcome, not fight, the unexpected.
  • Teach and be taught.
  • Never settle for what we already know as being the whole picture.
  • Look for answers in places that aren’t obvious.
  • Be open to possibilities and surprises.
  • Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable.
  • Accept that differences of opinion make the world a richer and more interesting place and welcome them.
  • Get lost, literally. Who knows what we may discover.
  • Slow down.
  • Think and, not or, or but.
  • Consider “too far” ideas instead of rejecting them.
  • Stop letting efficiency always be the number one goal.
  • Embrace empathy.
  • Give ourselves permission to question the status quo.
  • Accept that what we know is finite.
  • Balance learning and performance because numbers or monetary results aren’t everything.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to try something new.

This list isn’t all-inclusive. Many more ways to open the door to knowing exist. What’s most critical to holding on to wonder and thinking big is assuring that we do it.

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