NOTE: This is a book excerpt with minor edits from Doing The Impossible: 25 Laws For Doing The Impossible by Patrick Bet-David.
We all remember the story of Alice, the curious child whose inquisitive streak led her down a rabbithole and into Wonderland. The book explains that Alice had to follow the White Rabbit because she was “burning with curiosity.”
That same curiosity led Alice to down bottles that said “drink me” and cakes that said “eat me” and enter a strange world that became “curiouser and curiouser.” Her desire to uncover every mystery is one of the things that most children reading the story can relate to.
There are some things that we do as children that we unfortunately stop doing as much as adults. Children are constantly learning and growing. They are curious about the world around them and anxious to learn and try new things. Curiosity is a gift from God that shouldn’t disappear when we become adults. Learning is something that is just as important at age seventy as it is at age seven.
Too many of us stop asking questions in life as we get older; we simply lose that childlike thirst for knowledge. Part of the reason for that is the fact that we are afraid of being embarrassed, looking foolish or ruffling feathers. But at the end of the day, the worst question is one that is never asked.
Curiosity is not just about learning new facts or information. The great ones don’t just want to learn; they want to learn to do. They become students of those who do things better or differently and learn what those people know. Once they have one thing down, they move onto something new, always learning, ever evolving their abilities.
Let me give you a great real world example: Kobe Bryant.
When Kobe Bryant first came into the league, he wanted to learn every part of the game: foot work, outside shot, defense, closing, turn-around shot, posting up, and every other tool of the game. Kobe was a great player even then and a sought-after draft pick.
However, critics thought that he made a mistake by not playing college ball to refine his game before going to the NBA. But Kobe understood that he didn’t know everything, and he became one of the best students ever to play in the NBA. While his peers and competitors were excited just to be in the pros, Kobe wanted to be the greatest of all time. One of the biggest differences between Kobe and other players who enter the NBA is the fact that Kobe has never stopped learning.
Even after establishing himself as one of the great ones in the NBA, Kobe kept evolving his skill set.
In 2009, with four championship rings already on his finger, Kobe went to Hakeem Olajuwon to master his footwork. Here’s what Kobe said about working with Hakeem Olajuwon: “I got a chance to work with the greatest post player ever. I’ve always been a student of the game, and he was very patient with me.”
Phil Jackson said of Kobe’s drive to learn, “Kobe always comes back with a goal, he doesn’t go through summer playing golf or going fishing. He’s got something in his mind he’s going to work on with his game during the offseason.”
Kobe Bryant is just one example. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs kept asking “what if” questions that first enabled and then revolutionized personal computing. The secrets of the universe or the secrets of better footwork and everything in between are all available to those who want to learn. You just have to start with the desire to learn and grow. Then get in touch with your inner Alice.
Ask why and how and who can I learn from? The great thing about curiosity is that it doesn’t ever need to be satisfied; you can keep learning and trying new things as long as you live.
Action Item: What are some areas of your life where you can use your gift of curiosity to increase your learning?
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