Curiosity. We see it brimming over in young children. Then it slowly wains. By the time these children reach the college classroom it has gone extinct in many of them. Sadly, the very thing that is supposed to be supporting our curiosity is a large factor in its decline: schooling. The focus on answers over questions drives out curiosity in favor of certainty. The fear of being wrong drives out curiosity in favor of certainty. The ubiquity of information drives out curiosity in favor of trivia.
Ian Leslie's book does a good job of addressing not only the importance of curiosity but also why it declines and how to preserve it. As he points out "curiosity is vulnerable to benign neglect." It needs to be cultivated and supported. It is a habit that needs to be fostered by continued practice. Often we don't get that practice.
You've heard of IQ and maybe even EQ (emotional intelligence), but have you heard of CQ? Bruce Nussbaum argues that creative intelligence will be a key driver of economic growth and an important factor in individual success in the 21st century.
In some respects his book joins a chorus of others making similar arguments.
There was Dan Pink's Whole New Mind and Seth Godin's The Icarus Deception to name just two. Both argued for the importance of creativity in the work world. Nussbaum's book provides us with some concrete competencies that creative intelligence encompasses.
Many of these will not be surprising including continuing to learn, play, and make. But, for me anyway, hearing these arguments from different sources in different ways helps reinforce the point.
How often do we ask this important question: What is really essential in my life? Perhaps if we did ask this question more often we would find ways to reduce not only our stuff but also our stress. As Greg McKeown puts it "essentialism isn't about getting more done in less time. It's about getting only the right things done."
Our world is filled with more choices, more social media platforms, more news outlets, more commitments, and seemingly less time to accomplish all we need to do.
But, what if we began by examining what we "need to do" in terms of what is really essential? Getting to this point seems impossible but McKeown provides us with a clear roadmap and some practical advice for living as essentialists.
What do you want to do with your life? I mean what do you really want to do? Are you already doing that? If so, great! If not, what are you waiting for?
If you're waiting for tomorrow you're like many other people who think, often mistakenly, that they will have time later. After they retire, after the kids grow up, after the next big project at work. But, our lives are limited. Ironically, it is that limit that gives our lives meaning. But, only if we do something with them. There's no time to wait which is why we must strive to do our best work every day.
This is the central message of Todd Henry's book. But, his book is more than an exhortation to live your life. It is a practical guide with concrete steps to do just that.
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator
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