31 Days

Presented by

The Motley Fool
Day 18

Stay Curious

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

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I was a seriously curious child. The world looked so immense and I was fascinated by the seemingly endless amount of knowledge out there. Some teachers found it inspiring while others found it tiring. But for me, it felt like uncovering the mysteries of the universe to learn where something came from and why it was important. My quest to understand how things work, the right way to pronounce words or what a new food tasted like probably led to this current career of asking questions and sharing knowledge.

Of course, even for me—and I'm sure for you too—learning became less magical as I got older. It was sometimes forced onto us. When you're not interested in learning something, being urged to understand it can feel like conformity. And that's never a great feeling. Curiosity is often encouraged in the corporate world, but questioning can also be seen as being difficult or conflicting with the team's vision—to challenge or question, even with good intentions, often results in frustration and disappointment.

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But then you'll meet someone else who's just as intrinsically curious and they shake you out of your stupor. And if you haven't, let that guy be me. Hi! Let's ask questions. Let's rediscover the joy of finding out new stuff. Because you know what sucks? Pretending you know what somebody is talking about. Sure, it might start with good intentions. Do I know that show? “Of course.” Have I heard about the latest crypto theory? “Oh, who hasn't?”

But there's a power in saying, “I don't understand” or simply asking for an explanation. You might worry that it will make you sound stupid, but I've come to understand that it's the exact opposite. There's a strength in showing a willingness to learn. You might feel small, revealing a vulnerability. But this is how you will be the bigger man. After all, there's an arrogance in certainty, isn't there? Real leadership or true intelligence isn't about knowing everything. It's about being humble enough to listen and learn.

Wise Words

Marcus Aurelius

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love.

- Marcus Aurelius