The Curiosity Variable


Curiosity is one of the least talked about but perhaps greatest indicator of a successful career and life.

In the words of Albert Einstein " I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious."

I like to say that curiosity is the dark matter behind talent. Lets take the example of becoming a pro athlete. It goes without saying that you need to put in thousands of hours training, getting coached, and overall immersing yourself in your sport. The parents who want their kids to become the next superstars in their sport have to get them passionate about that sport. In order to get passionate about something, you must first become deeply curious about it.

According to the book Curious, humans share three basic drives with animals- food, sex, and shelter. They call curiosity the fourth drive, simply because an animal as far as we know never looks up to the sky and wonders why we're all here and what our purpose is.

In order to get deep domain expertise in any field your fourth drive must be very strong. The scientific term for a high curiosity is called a need for cognition (NFC). If you have a high NFC that means that you are driven to understand everything around you. Because having a high NFC requires more cognitive effort, not many people tend to be highly curious. Psychologists separate curiosity into two categories: epistemic and diversive. For those with a high diversive level of curiosity, their curiosity isn't focused on any one area, but anything new. These people are driven to know about everything around them- a classic example is Leonardo Da Vinci. Deep Domain Expertise is the result of Epistemic curiosity, the need to find out as much as you can about the specific topic you are interested in. You see examples of this everywhere from Warren Buffet learning everything about the stock market to Bill Gates learning about programming and every success story in between.

One of my favorite lessons from the 67 steps by Tai Lopez is called Unstumpability and Sherlock Holmes Sleuthing. His point is that you want to be unstumpable when it comes to your business, lets say that you are looking for investors. When they ask you about your business you should be so curious and unstumpable that you are able to answer any possible question related to your field. If you're a personal trainer for example you should have an innate curiosity around the human body, not just strictly exercise and nutrition.

No matter what business you find yourself in, you must have an edge- an unfair advantage that is uniquely yours. Think of Elon Musk and his company Tesla, do you think that you could stump him on any aspect of that business, or his competitors? Remember that investors bet on people, not on ideas. The way to become a badass in whatever field you're in is to start learning as much about it as possible. The goal is to develop deep domain expertise in your specific area and that requires picking something that will be challenging enough to keep you interested for a very long time.

The great part about curiosity is that even if you are not the most curious person at the moment, you can train yourself to be. They say it is more of a "state" than a trait. Think back to when you were a kid and everything was new and you wanted to know how everything worked. You can train yourself to have that frame of mind again. Curiosity is just another habit.

Like everything however there is a dark side of curiosity. You can actually be too curious, it can stop you from taking action if you are constantly trying to learn something new. Learn to balance your need to know all the possible information with the ability to take action in a state of ambiguity. I was guilty of this for a long time when I was trying to learn everything there was to learn about business, sales, marketing, products, and everything else before actually going out and starting a business.

Learning how to harness curiosity is extremely powerful for creating marketing, compelling stories, and teaching. A great book that talks about how to use curiosity for your business is Made to Stick.

If you can learn to combine an epistemic curiosity with a strong bias for action you will be unstoppable.


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