The Future Belongs to the Curious

   
  
    
  
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I am not sure if it is unique to me or maybe a function of my 71 years, I seem to be more able at this time in my life to accept my limitations. In discussing limitations, I am not referring to height or the fact that I long ago lost all my hair, those are basic facts of life that given my heredity I was fully prepared to accept early on. My father and my father’s father were both bald by their early thirties so that was a fait accompli well before occurring in my life. My height, that was a bit of a struggle.

When I shot up to 5’8” by the time I was in eighth grade it seemed logical that I begin practicing my hook shot in the driveway every evening., certainly I would continue to grow and that would allow me to play either Forward or Center on a basketball team. Only growing one inch later by high school, I accepted the fact that I was going to be playing Guard if I wanted to continue to play competitive basketball. My comfort with my very average stature was a bit difficult but high school behind me I muddled on. Though, to be perfectly honest the fact that all three of my sons are well over six feet tall has been a bitter pill, made only more so by their limited interest in basketball. After all, what is height for if not to reach and jump higher?

These physical challenges have seemingly not limited me in any way throughout my life, my profession does not depend on either characteristic nor has my choice of life partner or hobbies been in anyway shaped by them. So, all in all it has been a pretty good life despite being bald and short. But I am finding out later in life that these issues were not the whole story.

Of late, and by this, I mean the past year I have noticed two areas in particular where I am feeling constrained, sort of “out of it” if I can say it that way. On the one hand I have been blessed with above average intelligence, that gift, for which I can take no credit has allowed me to choose my own profession and make an above average income for most of my adult life. However, there has always been a sense that I was in some way different from many of the people that I enjoy spending time with. This sense of “dis-ease” can be traced back to the advent of the internet. Honestly, I missed the implications of the creation of personal computers, but I lived with that oversight for a decade without significant pain. I did not have keyboard skills, typing, etc., but there was always someone around to do that for me if I was willing to pay for it. But then I went off to work on my own about ten years ago.

Ten years after the internet entered our lives, twenty years after personal computers, I had to come to grips with the fact that I was ill suited in many ways to participate in business effectively. Personal Computers always looked like “fun” to me, a way to entertain myself if I wanted to play a game or two, certainly not essential. Though to be honest I was prescient enough to tell all my children that learning to type was probably the most valuable skill they could pick up in high school.

Little did I know that advances in technology would eventually begin to catch up with me and by stalling the adoption of the necessary skills I was, whether realized or not, limiting my prospects for the future.

So where am I going with this meandering piece? Cutting to the chase, as they say, I am at this point realizing that I am something of a handicapped being in this world of rapidly changing requirements for economic viability. Though intelligent, I am neither ambitious nor curios. In other words, I have nothing driving me to learn. What I am recognizing is that smartness, raw intelligence, is no longer sufficient for economic viability. (Pause for reflective impact!)

To be sure, intelligence is and will always be important, however, I am beginning to believe that the other two components, ambition and curiosity are equally or possibly more important for success in the future. Leaving aside ambition for another time, I am rapidly concluding that curiosity is as important as the other factors combined.

I was struck by a single sentence I read yesterday, in an article about blockchain technology, “If people can’t understand, they cannot participate.”

Many people, if not the majority of our current workforce lack curiosity. That’s a real problem destined to cause people to fall further and further behind. Also, if this condition is unidentified there will be an increasing tendency for the uncurious to become embittered as their condition leaves them less and less likely to keep up. Is there a cure, I am not certain? Personally, I am addressing my own curiosity shortage by forcing myself to spend more time reading to learn rather than reading for entertainment, which is my habit. Is there any hope for me? I think so as I have recognized and am beginning my responsibility for becoming curios.

What can you do with you and your own workforce? Well, you are the one with the need so it’s of on you decide what to do about your own learning and that of your workforce. Here’s a couple of place to start that you may find surprising and inexpensive, but you’ll have to provide the initiative and that will be the toughest part…

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