At Atomic Object, we work with a wide array of clients from all types of industries — over the course of the last year, I’ve worked with clients from medical, education, and office solution backgrounds. Before Atomic, I never imagined I would be involved in many of these industries. They all have been fascinating projects that I have learned a great deal from.
I don’t know much about these fields, and I should be constantly asking questions to know as much as I can. But I was encountering a problem during these engagements — I wasn’t expressing much curiosity. I know that internally I was curious, but I assumed that I knew things, and I was afraid to ask questions. Here are a few things that I am reminding myself to do each day to increase my curiosity.
1. Enter with a Clear Mind
Don’t assume you know how everything works. Pretend you’re a child. Children have a wonderful sense of curiosity because they don’t have the life experience that allows them to assume things.
2. Ask Questions
It isn’t necessarily about asking the right questions. Take the old approach that you were told in grade school: “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Even little, seemingly obvious questions can lead to bigger, revealing questions. There’s no shame in not knowing all of the answers. Asking questions will show that you are engaged rather than uninformed.
3. Become Familiar with Encountering the Unfamiliar
It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but the problem is that you’re familiar with your comfort zone. Creative juices will run dry if you don’t step out of your bubble of safety. Doing so will also inspire you to ask questions and get you in the habit of doing so.
4. Diversify Your interests
Always listen to electronic music? Try listening to some classical. Always use Illustrator for visual design work? Try sketching. This one goes hand-in-hand with #3. Some of the most brilliant people I have met have had incredibly diverse backgrounds. It should be becoming apparent that new experiences will keep your mind active. Active minds are curious.
5. Let Yourself be Amazed at Everyday Things
Really look at the shape of a leaf. Why is it that shape? What purpose does it serve as opposed to a different tree’s leaves? These are questions you probably haven’t asked since you were very young. We’ve become accustomed to things like this and therefore dismiss them in everyday life. Stopping to think about them every once in a while is a good exercise for the brain and curiosity. Check out Paul’s Purposeful Inspiration for more on this. Acknowledge that your surroundings are dynamic and interesting in their own way. It may sound cheesy, but take photos of things that interest you often, even with a cell phone. It’ll keep both your mind and eye active.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein
Curiosity drives creativity and innovation. Without it, no one would ask if something could be better, how it works, or why a decision was made. It’s easy to see the significance of curiosity in the software development world. I only recently began following these tips but have already been experiencing an increase in my curiosity and engagement.