How to change the world, one rabbit-trail at a time

When I started as a freshman at Virginia Tech, I was under the impression that I wanted to be an engineer. Truth be told, I didn’t want to be an engineer, and that all manifested in a math class my freshman year.

I didn’t fail it. In fact, I got a B+, but I found myself hating it. I was able to do it and get decent grades, but I didn’t enjoy class, homework, tests or any of the work. I didn’t really care at all about formulas and derivatives and angles and solving for “x.” And after that final in December of 2010, I walked away confident that math would not be in my future.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the math or that I wasn’t capable of learning it. I just wasn’t curious about math, so learning math burned me out.

That was the first time I realized how important it was to be curious.

In fact, in October 2014, Scientific American published an article about a research study that concluded that when your curiosity is piqued, the chemical balance in your brain changes preparing you to learn. Simply put: become curious, learn more effectively.

If I’m going to be the best version of myself, I need to constantly learn and learn well. The best leaders, creators, innovators and, ultimately, the world changers are constantly learning and stretching themselves. I need to be a constant learner because I’m not content to just go through life getting decent grades and working on something I am just capable of.

However, I’m only going to change the world if I care about what I do. I’m only going to push myself if I’m passionate. But how does passion manifest itself? You guessed it; in curiosity.

So take some time today to find what you’re curious about, and what you’re not so curious about. Maybe you’ll learn that you aren’t a fan of math, so take that one off the list. Find what makes you wonder, what makes you dream and what makes you tick. Then chase that thing.

But as a 1,000-Hour Pro don’t limit yourself to just one thing because there isn’t one single thing that will wholly satisfy your desire to learn. I love learning about wine, but reading about the latest vintage doesn’t scratch the surface of all the other things going on in the world that I want to know about.

Even if it seems like a waste of time, the things you are curious about are making you a better learner and a more well-rounded person. Chase the things you’re curious about, and if you aren’t curious, walk right out of that final and leave the textbook behind. You’re only going to change the world if you’re curious about how you can.

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