I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.–Albert Einstein
In chemistry, a catalyst speeds up the reaction between two substances. Innovation, or change, works the same way. The inventor thinks two simple words: I’m curious. Then he rapidly gathers knowledge, combines that with imagination and boom! You have the chemical formula for innovation. If curiosity is the catalyst for change, then we, given the infinite knowledge provided by the Internet and a little imagination, have the ability to change the world.
The Definition of Curiosity—the catalyst.
Albert Einstein first uttered, “I’m curious” at twelve years of age. Can you imagine if he had believed what his frustrated teachers said about his below average academic ability? Instead, he was “passionately curious,” which led to a lifetime of inquiry of scientific and philosophical matters. I believe that his comment below is the most succinct demonstration of curiosity I’ve ever read:
“Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking.” Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes
If we are passionately curious we are always on the cusp of innovation. By relentlessly questioning and inquiring into our own souls, our lives and our world, we bring about change.
The Power of Knowledge—one element.
The Internet is an infinite resource that provides: information to satisfy that passionate curiosity, tools to build an idea, sources of funding and customers—our phones are like a mini lab or factory. Thomas Edison would have loved the efficiency. Edison was a voracious reader, whether he was researching a new topic or reading a novel. His curiosity knew no boundaries. This quote from Edison reads more like a prophecy about the Internet.
“We have merely scratched the surface of the store of knowledge which will come to us. I believe that we are now, a-tremble on the verge of vast discoveries – discoveries so wondrously important they will upset the present trend of human thought and start it along completely new lines.” –Thomas Edison
Knowledge does upset the “trend of human thought” if it’s examined with an open, curious mind. By seeking knowledge while questioning every outcome and possibility, we can find new truth or pathways to change.
The Power of Imagination—the second element.
Nikola Tesla, inventor of the AC current electrical supply system, writes of having an imagination so vivid when he was a boy that it blinded him. To help cope with his affliction, he conjured other mental images wrought from hundreds books he had read. Later, this gave him the ability to dream up his inventions to the minutest detail, even testing them all in his mind.
“I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision farther and farther, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel—of course, in my mind. Every night…I would start on my journeys—see new places, cities and countries—live there, meet people and make friendships and acquaintances, however unbelievable…” Nikola Tesla, My Inventions
Imagination, whether it’s a brand new idea or an inclination to improve on something already made, is essential to bringing about change. All great ideas are born from imagination.
If we just utter two simple words, “I’m curious,” we are lead to seek knowledge and imagine a better way. This is the formula for innovation. Without curiosity, the reaction that brings about change simply can’t happen. We all need to be passionately curious.