Steve Jobs once declared: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Of course, you don't need to take his quote at face value. There is no need to starve yourself and give up on learning. If anything, Steve was trying to provoke a quality we all need to hold onto — to be curious.
You might be thinking how do we jump from hunger and stupidity to curiosity.
It’s a fair question.
Hunger prompts an urge we need to meet. With the need to quench the pains emanating from our tummies, we go into overdrive. A need to eat nudge’s us to ignore taste, thus we accept the need to eat food we might not ordinarily consume. For me aged eleven on my first summer camp, the choice of a never before eaten fried egg or hunger pushed me to eat the egg. Without hunger, I would never have discovered the delights of a full English breakfast.
Hunger exposed my curiosity.
Meanwhile, a fool lives in the peace of their innocence.
The comfort of knowing that you don’t know allows you to live with uncertainty. You’re not tied to the narrative of the known. Instead, innocence drives a curiosity to enquire, to seek, and understand.
Is a fool really the foolish one?
It brings me back to the scope of being curious. What does it mean and how should we embrace it?
The Curiosity filter
Food and content nourish our bodies and minds.
Just as our bodies need water and food to operate and survive, so our minds also need mental sustenance. Of course, we are what we eat — and consume. When we feed our bodies and minds crap, we bloat and lose our flexibility.
Our need for mental stimulation isn't curiosity.
No, curiosity is the filter we need to go deep.
Without a desire to know, we skim across the surface, ignoring the depth. Skimmers see the opinions of others, ignoring the ones that don't match their own previously held beliefs. Confirmation bias revels in the pond scum of opinions and false evidence appearing real. The information age has only made the scum thicker, making it even harder to go too deep. First-principles remain buried to the masses.
Which brings us back to curiosity.
Curiosity isn't just a desire to learn, it's the need to learn so we can understand. The behaviour compels us to question, investigate and explore. We aren't satisfied with insight, we want to understand. Knowledge is a top-down view — but to understand is to see the granular level, to know how stuff works. Curiosity is the path to the fundamental truths of how life works.
Great curiosity lights fires of passion in us, which reminds me of this quote.
“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.”—Samuel Johnson
No doubt you consider yourself to have a great and generous mind. But are you curious? Does the need to understand nudge you to enquire, to seek the wisdom of others and open your mind to new ideas? Do you ask why? Do you attempt to understand what’s going on here?
When did you last ask the five why’s?
When Steve Jobs told his team to stay hungry and stay foolish, what he really meant was to stay curious. To question the fundamentals and seek the first principles.
In today's cluttered news feeds, the desire to dig deep and understand is an essential skill.
Those who dwell in the field of curiosity —live, and contribute—like few others. That's the sad bit of this article. I'm not writing about the masses, I'm writing about the select few. Steve Jobs called them the crazy ones, the ones who think differently. It was their passion to see the world differently.
Actually, I'm nudging you.
I want you to be curious — to stay curious and to seek out the truth.
I don't want you to fall prey to confirmation bias. To help yourself, you need to stop skimming the surface of the information age. You need to take steps to stop your beliefs from becoming assumptions that will limit your ability to think critically. You can — and should be better than that.
So, as Steve Jobs asked of his colleagues, I ask you the same. Stay hungry, stay foolish and let this feed your ability to be curious.