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Achieve everything by being curious

Achieve everything by being curious
Aleksandar Marinković Intellectual Wanderer with a Legal Background

Curiosity can sometimes be seen as a negative thing. There is a saying about curiosity and death: “Curiosity killed the cat.”. Even my elementary geography schoolteacher used to say, “Unnecessary question,” whenever we would show any interest in the subject matter and ask for additional explanation or information, as if he were saying, “This is what you need to know, and nothing more.”. But I am curious by nature, and I do believe that we can achieve everything by being curious.

In addition, curiosity has a lot of benefits backed up by science, such as the capacity to expand our knowledge, improve relationships, and foster empathy.

So, the question is, how can we achieve everything by being curious?

1. Ask better questions to get better answers.

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.” Bernard Baruch

Curiosity and asking questions go hand in hand. You cannot explore your curiosity and learn about the subject matter if you do not ask questions. Now, you do not need to ask others for information or answers. You could be asking yourself. That is why you need to formulate your questions better.

In some cases, you would only want to further explore the subject matter. So, you already know something, but not everything.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What or where are my blind spots?
  • What do I not know about what I am doing that I should be doing?
  • Am I spending time on the right things?
  • What can I experiment with?
  • Can I engage others to assist me achieve my goals?

2. Ask for assistance to identify your blind spots.

Blind spots can be defined in different ways. We can define them as things that are overlooked systematically, either intentionally or subconsciously. Another definition would be that they are things you think you know but don’t. Or something that you think that you are good at, but are terrible at (did someone mention the Dunning-Kruger effect?).

Simply put, it is a persistent lack of awareness concerning an aspect of one’s personality and/or behavior. And identifying and addressing a blind spot is often not the most pleasant thing in the world.

That is why people often avoid doing it. However, part of being curious is looking for those blind spots. That is why asking for assistance to identify your blind spots can help you. Choose carefully who you will ask for assistance, and make sure that they are the right person for the job.

3. Success kills curiosity.

I already wrote about how training your brain for maximum growth can make a change in your life. But be aware of the trap of success. It might kill your curiosity.

Success itself frequently leads to failure because it breeds laziness, arrogance, and excessive optimism about the future in people. Once we find ourselves successful, we tend to believe that we know everything and that we are untouchable.

But how many businesses failed once they reached the top? How many people become arrogant once they achieve something great? And how many of them lost it and hit rock bottom?

Never let your wins and success kill your curiosity, drive to learn, and need to improve.

Remember, curiosity is the space between what you currently know and what you want to know.

4. Identify failures quickly.

Look at your curiosity as a need to experiment. To know what the result of the experiment means, you need metrics, which are quantitative or qualitative measures of the success of your experiment. That means that these metrics will tell if the experiment was a success, failure, or inconclusive.

Anyhow, you must have processes to kill projects when they are not working. To achieve this, you need at least to have success metrics and failure metrics.

What is more, you need to establish the failure metrics upfront. and they must be measurable, either quantitatively or qualitatively.

5. Ask for feedback.

Let’s say you are curious about a business idea that you have. You want to know if it makes sense, if it is good or bad, whether it has a chance to be a success or if it is going to be a failure. You do your research, you go deep into this idea, but you are still not sure. A great way to further examine this idea is to ask for feedback.

There are three things you need to do to be able to get valuable feedback:

  1. Create a safe place for critical feedback,
  2. Be sure that you are doing this with the right people,
  3. Make them feel like putting themselves at risk and being honest with you is worth it.

Understand this, growth requires hearing challenging feedback. And it is not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, it is what you know for sure that just isn’t so.

In other words, you need feedback, but for people to give you one, you must choose the right people and create a safe environment for even negative feedback.

Source: LinkedIn, AsstOffice
Photo by ERIKA CRISTINA: https://www.pexels.com/photo/hands-with-paint-2332030/

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Training your brain for maximum growth

Training your brain for maximum growth
Aleksandar Marinković Intellectual Wanderer with a Legal Background

One of the best ways to enhance our cognitive processes is to train our brains to visualize things. Living a better, more fulfilling life will enable us to reframe new concepts and expand our horizons to seemingly unlimited possibilities. As we live in a world that feels more and more complex, knowing how to tackle those complexities will make a huge difference in our lives. In this article, you will see 6 ways to tackle complex problems, all with the aim of training your brain for maximum growth.

1. Mastering our emotions

This may come as a surprise to you, but the studies showed that emotions and thoughts influence each other profoundly. Thoughts can both create a feeling (for example, anxiety from worrying about a job interview) as well as evaluate it (“This isn’t a realistic fear”).

Furthermore, our emotional states are influenced by the way we evaluate and manage our lives. For instance, a dog lover is probably going to be too aware of the dog across the street and see its approach as threatening, which might cause emotional distress. The identical event will cause a significantly different emotional response from someone who views the dog’s approach as friendly.

Emotions are “part of us,” we tend to think, and they are unchangeable. However, studies have shown that feelings are flexible. They can be modified through:

a) Altering an external situation (changing job)
b) Shifting our attention (choosing to focus on the good sides of the situation, and not only on the bad)
c) Re-appraising a situation (upcoming events are not an assessment of my skills, but an opportunity to learn and grow)

In other words, by mastering our emotions, we start to think differently. Fear can paralyze us and block our thinking. But if we learn to recognize that emotion and learn how not to allow it to affect us, then our thinking is clearer. By applying this from one situation to another, we are creating an environment for growth.

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.” — Epictetus

2. Trusting our gut or our intuition

Have you ever heard about the “second brain” or “brain in your gut”? Even if you haven’t, surely in some situations you simply “went with your gut” to decide or you “felt butterflies in your stomach” when being nervous. Believe it or not, this “brain in your gut,” which is concealed within the walls of the digestive system, is transforming medical knowledge of the connections between mood, health, digestion, and even thought processes.

Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS).

Now, ENS cannot help you write a poem or do business analysis. However, researchers found evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

In other words, researchers concluded that our two brains communicate. Furthermore, they believe that digestive system activity may affect cognition (thinking skills and memory), too.

From that point of view, if our two brains communicate, and our digestive system affects our mood, then the feeling we have when we think about something is influenced by our digestive system, and vice versa. Our brain is sending signals to the gut, and that gut sends signals to the brain, and we have this sensation in our stomach and have that “AHA” moment.

3. Listening to our body

Mens sana in corpore sano: a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Emotions affect our thinking. What we eat affects our thinking. What about the physical shape of our body? It is scientifically proven that physical activity boosts brain health. It helps you think, learn, solve problems and complex tasks, and have more energy. Frequent exercise can also lower your chance of developing dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

Research indicates that even a few hours of moderate exercise per week can have a positive impact on our mood and self-esteem, as well as enhance our cognitive function and learning capacity. When combined with a balanced diet, rich in essential nutrients, it will ensure that you maintain a healthy, happy sense of physical and mental well-being.

This is the reason why you need to listen to your body, listen to the signals that it sends you, and address any health issues that you have. Because they will affect your learning, decision-making, and thinking processes.

4. Making good decisions (good thinking)

Making good decisions is very challenging. What is more challenging is to make them consistent. There are several things you need to take into consideration to make good decisions.

1) Values

Knowing our values, our priorities, and our souls (if you wish) is the first thing to take into consideration when deciding. What is good for me is not necessarily good for others, and vice versa. The same is true in business. One decision or business move in one environment or situation is not necessarily applicable or good in another.

2) Blind spots

Knowing our blind spots or biases is immensely important in the decision-making process. If you are not aware of your blind spots, they may be the cause of your not-so-good decisions. Therefore, spend some time reevaluating your beliefs, asking others to look for “holes” in your decision, and trying to find a blind spot.

Don’t let the Dunning-Kruger effect ruin your life!

3) Do the research

Gather as much data as possible, process it, reevaluate it, and consider many different viewpoints. Nothing is black or white. There are other options. There is other data. Just go and search for them. The more facts you have, the better the decision will be. Always look for three credible sources to confirm the facts.

4) Write everything down

Write, draw, doodle, whatever. Just record, in some way, your thought process. That way, if you ever need to come back to the reason why you made a certain decision, you will have it on paper. You will know your reason, and, perhaps, you will be able to find an error in your reasoning. This will improve your future decisions, and you will constantly improve your decision-making process.

5) Four Pillars or Four Lions of Thinking

1. Critical thinking
2. Strategic thinking
3. Original thinking
4. Creative thinking

These four ways of thinking can contribute to the decision-making process like nothing else.

5. Stay motivated and resilient to reach our goals

Let’s start from here. Studies showed that:

  • A positive mindset can increase one’s lifespan by up to 7 years.
  • 85% of people who have a positive mindset on life experience significantly less depression and anxiety,
  • 87% of people with positive mindsets are more likely to live healthier lifestyles and make better choices for their health.

Optimism and positivity lead to better health, both mental and physical, help you cope with stress and adversity, and increase life satisfaction and resilience.

6. Using creativity to design the real-world outcomes that you wish to have

Start with a solution and work backward to the problem.
Start with the problem and go towards the solution.
Ignore the problem and think, “What if this was not the case?”.
Simply put, try new things, and new approaches, take a different angle or perspective, use things in different ways, play with your thoughts, wonder, think, etc.

All of this will contribute to training your brain for maximum growth.

Source: University of Minnesota, Johns Hopkins Medicine, University of Galway, Harvard Business Review, AsstOffice