Follow your curiosity (Steve Jobs)

While reading Firefly Magic (PL) from Lauren Sapala I came upon a passage about Steve Jobs' curiosity:

"That is something a lot of people miss about the marketing genius of Steve Jobs. They tend to concentrate on the fact that he was a perfectionist, and that he demanded total symmetry down to the tiniest details in any product he put out. That was part of his genius, no doubt, but another huge part was his curiosity. He liked to explore new things. When confronted with something new, he liked to poke at it and play with it. He liked to ask questions like, "What if it could do this?" or "Why does it HAVE to be like this, couldn't it be a different way? What would that look like?" By poking and playing and constantly asking questions he uncovered things that most people missed. He saw the Wonderland-type magic in things other people dismissed as weird, or difficult, or just not that interesting."

This reminded me of the curiosity of little children. They never ask themselves if a question is a stupid or obsolete question. They just ask, and play, and watch, having fun with new stuff.

If we could get back into this child-like state of curiosity, this would help our creativity.

"Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will."

Charles Baudelaire

But how could you get there? How to find the curiosity we had as a child? Follow your gut, explore, read, listen, follow your interests not minding your ego.

"Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life."

Bertrand Russell

And do not fear following your curiosity might end up being a waste of time.

Steve Jobs himself has a story about his curiosity leading him on paths that would only prove useful in the future he could not have foreseen at the time.

And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Taken from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

#stevejobs #curiosity #creativity

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