“Any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.”
Wisława Szymborska, recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature
It is easy to fall into the trap of acquiring knowledge for the sake of acquiring knowledge, believing that knowledge is power. As Wisława Szymborska points out in the above quote, however, “Any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out.”
I am a huge advocate of Embracing the Power of Questions, and this is something we explore in the Dare to Be Great leadership workshops and the Excellence in Training courses. I believe curiosity is one of the foundational elements to building and sustaining a culture of Leading, Learning and Excellence. One of my stated goals for the training is to have people walk away with more questions than they showed up with.
Stay Curious is one of my Core Values. For me curiosity is what drives my continual search for new knowledge and deeper understanding on a few key topics. It also drives my desire to seek connections between what I am learning and what I know, and to seek to discover applications of that knowledge in a way that makes sense to the participants in my training programs.
Does the knowledge you are acquiring inspire questions about the applications of that knowledge in your field?
Does the knowledge you are acquiring inspire curiosity in you to seek out a deeper level of knowledge and understanding on the topic?
Does the knowledge you are acquiring cause you to question what else is it that you do not know about this topic?
Does the knowledge you are acquiring cause you to wonder what other evidence or research is available that either supports or counters this information?
Does the knowledge you are acquiring cause you to seek out experts in the field who can help you gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge?
Does the knowledge you are acquiring cause you to ask questions of your peers to find out how they would interpret and apply the knowledge?
Knowledge is not power, it is potential. That potential is only realized when it causes you to ask more questions, deeper questions, better question and when you discuss it, debate it, share it and act on it.
Surround yourself with unread books to remind yourself how much you still have to learn and how many questions you still have to ask and seek to answer.
Stay curious and surround yourself with other curious people.
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