Three Disciplines to Maintain Your Intellectual Edge
Curiosity is a good thing to develop in your life—especially your professional life. But curiosity requires that you have your eyes wide open. You have to be observant to notice what’s going on around you. That’s why you must be intentionally curious.
You will not notice what you don’t focus on. It’s important to be actively watching what’s going on so that you can then capitalize on what you take notice of.
Here are three disciplines to develop so you can stay intentionally curious and maintain your intellectual edge.
1. Lifelong learning
It’s important to be in the habit of lifelong learning. Push your mind outside of your normal routine. Maintain your intellectual edge. And be intentionally curious.
The more you force yourself to read, the more you will benefit from it. But it’s important to be cognizant of what you are reading. It’s good to read things that push you out of your comfort zone. Read things that are outside your normal scope. If your natural inclination is to read business books, then try reading historical biographies or theological works. Read something other than what you typically would read. That will make you more well-rounded.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Even if you are shy person, ask questions—a lot of them. Be willing to ask questions all the time. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
The more you seek out knowledge from books or people, the more you will learn. And it’s important to develop a discipline of lifelong learning, because that will set you up well to make sense of what you see around you.
2. Trend spotting
Watch what’s going on around you. When you notice something happening more than once or twice, then that may be a trend. And that’s worth noticing.
The more you see what’s going on around you, the more you will be able to notice trends. It’s important to keep your eyes wide open so you can observe what’s happening. The more intentionally curious you are, the more that you will benefit from the trends going on around you. Trend spotting will help you see what customers or clients are wanting more of—or less of. That will help you know how to serve others better, and as a result, make more money.
If you are observant, you will see the trends take shape in front of you so that you can capitalize on opportunities. But you have to be willing to spot those opportunities. So it pays to be intentionally curious.
3. Dot connecting
The more you pay attention to what you are seeing, the more opportunities you will have for seeing the relationship between things—or connecting the dots. If you just look at trees, then that’s all you will see. But if you look for forests, you will find them when you see the trees. And you won’t miss the forest for the trees.
Describe things you see in terms of the concepts you are familiar with. If you are a football fan, then describe what you see with football analogies. Or if you are an orchestral music afficionado, use those terms to describe new ideas. The key is to force your brain to make connections that might not necessarily be obvious to everyone. Because it makes you see things with new eyes.
By being intentionally curious, you will end up learning more. It’s a state of mind for you to cultivate, so that you begin to understand what might be possible. But that all starts with an intentional focus on lifelong learning, trend spotting, and dot connecting.