The Gateway to Learning

Learning, Thinking Tools, Uncategorized

One of the (many) post-it notes on the wall above my desk says

“Curiosity = the prolonged holding of being wrong”

Curiosity is, in my view, absolutely the most effective and important tool in our mental toolbox. It’s the gateway to learning.

It drives innovation, provokes the release of “brain goodies” like dopamine and oxytocin, and keeps us from getting stuck. And it’s so, so hard.

The reason it’s so hard is that we all really like to be right about stuff. In fact, in her fabulous book, Kathryn Schulzargues that we don’t even really know what it’s like to “feel wrong”.

Remember Wile E Coyote’s relentless pursuit of Road Runner? The perfect example, Schultz brilliantly notes, of how easy it is for us to feel happy and “right”, even while we are actually wrong. Wile E Coyote always still felt like things were going great, even moments after he had already overshot things and was over the cliff.

So – the prolonged holding of being wrong.

No wonder it feels so hard. It takes some effort to stay, mentally speaking, in a state where we can do our best learning and relating. But it’s just so worth it.

My little post-it note reminds me: not only is it okay to be wrong, good things happen when I can find hang out in that space for a while.


What are you holding on to being right about today and you might loosen up?

If you were more curious than certain today, what could change about your day?