You may have the sharpest intellect, you may have the gift of being very self-aware of your emotions and putting people at emotional ease. Neither was relevant when you chose to open this blog. The curiosity of your hungry mind stood out at the initial instance. A heartfelt salute to your hungry mind for retaining the childlike curiosity through your adulthood. Where does this innate strength of yours fall within the big scheme of success?
Success in Context
When you pop the question -- what is the innate quality of individuals that drive their success -- psychologists of repute have come up some interesting answers. One set of proponents steadfastly maintain that it is EQ. Daniel Goleman's seminal book Emotional Intelligence and Travis Bradberry's Emotional Intelligence 2.0 are good reads with extensive research. The other school of thought advocates that it is IQ. Adam Grant's article, "Emotional Intelligence is overrated" (cognitive skills triumph emotional skills) is a good counter balance. IQ worships the brilliance of the individual's intellect, while EQ bets on the eloquence of the human emotions to drive success. Let us put both talents in context.
If we draw an analogy to a car, the steady state can be defined as running on the highway on cruise control, the small perturbations are the acceleration and deceleration on the city roads. IQ and EQ are the talents that could matter in these states- normal course of daily life. However, curiosity provides the initial spark to propel the engine. The more the mind is passionately trained to start different cars and follow different trajectories, there is more opportunity to absorb and assimilate different flowers that bloom. Most aptly said by Albert Einstein -- "I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious."
Connected Minds: Yogurt and Children's Cartoon
When I taste yogurt, I wonder how someone first figured out the fermentation of milk. Was it an accidental discovery or a methodical approach? More importantly, would it have mattered unless the one, seated next to discoverer, was curious enough to be interested in the accomplishment of his/her colleague's work?
Many species have made their imprint on earth, what stood out when it came to humans? We do not have the largest brain (ratio of brain mass /body weight is among the highest for humans) but we possibly have the largest collective brain -- a network of human mind that selectively propagates what works and cautions on what does not.
Nerves are connected to each other through synapses. What is the equivalent for connecting the human minds -- is it spoken language or something more rudimentary? That was the question in my mind. My aha moment came when I was watching a cartoon show with my younger daughter. Like most preschoolers, my younger daughter has a fascination for the one smart monkey, Curious George -- a PBS cartoon show. What is interesting about George, the curious, is that he is one of the few animals in cartoon shows who does not have a human voice.
I went further back to explore human evolution. Let us say, one early human who was curious, studied the fire and in the progress even figured out how to tame it. Was empathetic communication, the secret of the propagation? In the chronology of human evolution, taming of the fire, a key ingredient in the human success story came way before language. Being curiously interested in what others have to offer as ingenious solutions is a bedrock on which human success story is built on. The axioms of today -- language, cultures, internet, social media are really nascent channels of the sophisticated mind. In the bigger scheme, curiosity is the basic element of the success story that connects the network of human minds.
What is the implication for your success?
As kids, almost all of us are made equal when it comes to curiosity. As we grow older, very few of us exercise it -- consciously or unconsciously. In life, we can indulge in the eternal pursuit of what makes people successful. Or we can more easily leverage god given talent of curiosity that many of us are endowed with. It is the spark that unlocks both IQ and EQ. People who are more naturally interested than interesting not only embody a key EQ, but a strong IQ to understand that they are a small subset of the bigger Human IQ.
Curiosity is the original synapse of the connected minds that breeds success. In the pursuit of the drivers of success, let us cherish the basic skill. Stay hungry -- consciously, instinctively and more importantly -- passionately.