The role of curiosity in finding inspiration


  The role of curiosity in finding inspiration

"The role of curiosity in finding inspiration." 

While most people might think this is a rather empty statement, the truth is that curiosity has a very interesting effect on our brain. In fact, it's the foundation on which we all learn how to find new things. When we are curious about something or someone, our mind is constantly trying to piece together the information and figure out what it means. Author Katherine Morland writes how this process leads to something called “hot cognition” and how curiosity has an incredible effect on learning. For us as learners, it might be helpful not only to search for inspiration but also have that exact state of mind when doing so for maximum results.

I have noticed this curiosity effect in my own life quite often. I am frequently amazed by what I can accomplish when I am not tired, or when the work is not unpleasant. Sometimes it takes going to a certain place or looking at something for me to feel a little curious and start doing my work.

I felt more inspired by the plan of writing this article after watching an episode of Masterminds with host Kevin O'Leary last week that had a similar idea to the article title. In that show, Kevin would play a game of Simon Says throughout his presentation to produce better results than most people would be able to achieve by trying out different strategies and tactics for themselves in front of a mirror. The show showed Kevin selecting from a large group of people after they had performed an activity for about twenty minutes. He would be looking for clues and watching the body language of the person to see if they were open to learning, did not give up easily and sought improvement. He would then select five or six people from the group who seemed to have these qualities, as well as other factors, and he would allow them to do one thing for him. Then he would take the remaining people and send them away and have them perform another task in front of a mirror, like acting something out rather than just doing it themselves. Then he would select different people from the new group that seemed to have similar characteristics. He would do this process again and again until the show was over. (You can watch the entire show here: .)

Of all of the different people that Kevin chose, only one person could truly be called an "inspiration," because Kevin found out that she had a very creative mind, took her time in solving problems, knew where to find what she needed to solve her problem and had a positive attitude about her work. He was able to predict that because of these characteristics she would do exceptionally well out of his group of misfits. This is also something that I have found in my own life. If I stay curious about what I am working on, worrying less about mistakes and how much time is left for a task, and having the right attitude about it, then I will do it exceptionally well, and others will do the same.

Another cool thing that Kevin was able to characterize when he saw body language was their level of energy. He noticed when a person had high energy or low energy based on whether they were focused on following his directions or not. He would say things like, "You look like you are out of energy," and "You look really tired. You need to take a break." (Kevin O'Leary, Masterminds, NBC). Sometimes he would prove his point by asking the person if they were tired and then if they were out of energy. He would say that high energy people are not out of energy because they were excited and liked what they were doing. Then he would say that low energy people are tired because they didn't feel like doing something. He said that you could tell which ones had high or low energy just by looking at them for a couple seconds.

From my previous writing experience I am wondering how this effect is related to curiosity. I think this effect happens when we as people are curious about a certain thing. In the case of Kevin's example, I think he was looking for people who knew that they needed to learn something new. The fact that these people wanted to try to do it themselves and show what they could do, usually showed he had found the right people for his audience.

Kevin O'Leary also said in another episode of Masterminds that you should go into your presentation with a positive attitude. If you are presenting something new or different to an audience, you have a lot of obstacles ahead of you and it will be difficult at times. You need to be excited about the topic or whatever you are presenting so that it becomes more powerful for others.

I do feel like this has helped me a little. I can see how it might be very challenging at times to focus on what you are learning and how to present it, but if you can take these ideas and incorporate them into your own work, then I think the events in your life will start to change for the better.

I will be heading out now to search for some more inspiration and catch up on the work that I want to accomplish for myself.

There's a story that Nicole Fenton is telling about Shakespeare's workshop in her bio below that makes sense along with all of these thoughts:

"When Shakespeare was at the height of his creative powers, he had plenty of time for other pursuits, including listening to other artists who came to perform. He must have learned a lot from the plays that he read (and perhaps wrote himself) about the unfortunate fate of prophets and seers in the world's history. The great playwright and philosopher William Hazlitt called these artists "the most unfortunate men that ever existed on this earth," because they created stories that were not true at all but in fact completely false -- so much so that one could be led down a false trail for years before he realized it.

Shakespeare's answer to this problem would have a profound effect on generations of artists, aspiring or accomplished. His approach was to take something that was full of truth and sincerity and then set it in the context of a falsehood. In the process, he made it even more truthful, breaking through the mask of a falsehood and thus creating something that had greater clarity and power than the ideas that came directly from his own mind. It is no wonder that, according to Hazlitt, in his later years Shakespeare would rarely write anything himself but only work with his actors and musicians until they each contributed their own ideas and then helped shape them into "the larger truth contained in these smaller ones. Thus Shakespeare's greatness lies in his relationship with others."

A modern example of this process is the movie, "Whiplash," which tells the story of a young jazz drummer whose mentor pushes him to greatness by exacting a painful price. Music director Peter Gabriel was himself mentored in this way by former Genesis bassist and founder member Anthony Phillips (who now lives in Great Britain). In fact, many great artists find that their best work comes about when they are working with masters to achieve something that is greater than the sum of its parts.


I feel this whole day has been a very challenging yet productive experience for me. I think that I have gotten a lot out of it but there is still so much more to go through. If you are interested in trying out your own "Mastermind" experience, I think it would be great if you could make contact with Kevin O'Leary. My email is and my phone number is 312-965-6605 if anyone wants to talk or follow up with me about my experience.

As a closing statement, here is the link to the video that Kevin O'Leary made on his experience:

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