Intelligence Happens When Curiosity Replaces Skepticism

Skepticism is comfortable. Being skeptical of a perspective, alternative approach, or belief requires only the effort to be dismissive. Curiosity requires action and opening your mind to possibilities. Those possibilities include discovering new insight, ideas, solutions, and even concluding that you had good reason to be skeptical.

Learning about perspectives, alternatives, and ideas is the start of expanding intelligence. Just the start. Acquiring intelligence, like wisdom, requires curiosity. “I hear what you’re saying, and you’re challenging my beliefs which I am sincerely confident of being right. So, I’m curious to learn if you have something worth knowing. Let me test your idea.”

For true testing to happen, our minds have to be open to the possibility that the theory being tested could change our beliefs, the core of our practice, and the world will never be the same. Willingness is an open mind; the mind of a person of humility. Willing to be exposed to another way, a better way, a theory which is not our own is an admirable quality of intelligent people. For several years I’ve been learning with a diverse group of people who desire become more effective, smarter, independent, and valuable. I’ve noticed something. The “aha moment” happens after a person moves from skeptic to curious.

The skeptic hears some of what’s being explained and quickly begins to counter the idea, typically by applying flawed logic, and holding fast to familiar ideas. It’s when the skeptic becomes curious and looks for proof, or evidence of proof that the knowledge becomes intelligence. The curious person will apply the new concept to a real life situation and if the concept produces results (which it must because results are exactly what comes of any action) the evidence of right or wrong becomes tangible. Once we see something as a consequence of an action, that consequence is our proof.

Two people shared their aha moment with me this week. In both cases there was doubt. Being patient with the doubter is a challenge when we want results and we want them now. Patience is fast becoming the one character trait I desire most. Because my business is helping other people get what they want, and accomplishing that “getting” is harder than ever today, when I hear a person tell me “I got it! I know we broke through a barrier, and their life has changed for the better. I know the person has gained intelligence. And that’s why I am inspired to be exactly where I am today. It’s good to be skeptical. It’s powerful to be curious.

You can teach a guy to fish, but he’s gotta wanna eat.

I was reminded this morning that teaching a person to fish could feed them for a lifetime, but only if they want to eat. The person who wants to be given a fish is not going to fish even, if they have the ability, until they decide that eating is better for them than starving.

The effort of teaching is exponentially magnified in results by the student who finds inspiration to make the learned technique or tool a habit. Never quit teaching because some people don’t want to eat. Teach to the people who aspire to greater heights.