Don’t Shut Off Your Curiosity

Earlier this month we shared an article and TED Talk by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who models the be a learner habit and shares his thoughts and experiences on the need for coaching. Today we share another piece by Gawande.

The disposition this month is curiosity. Gawande was asked to give the commencement address at the UCLA Medical School graduation ceremony in June 2018. His speech Curiosity and What Equality Really Means is a thought-provoking look into our world as we have come to know it:

“We are in a dangerous moment because every kind of curiosity is under attack—scientific curiosity, journalistic curiosity, artistic curiosity, cultural curiosity. This is what happens when the abiding emotions have become anger and fear. Underneath that anger and fear are often legitimate feelings of being ignored and unheard—a sense, for many, that others don’t care what it’s like in their shoes. So why offer curiosity to anyone else?

Once we lose the desire to understand—to be surprised, to listen and bear witness—we lose our humanity. Among the most important capacities that you take with you today is your curiosity. You must guard it, for curiosity is the beginning of empathy. When others say that someone is evil or crazy, or even a hero or an angel, they are usually trying to shut off curiosity. Don’t let them. We are all capable of heroic and of evil things. No one and nothing that you encounter in your life and career will be simply heroic or evil. Virtue is a capacity. It can always be lost or gained. That potential is why all of our lives are of equal worth.”

In our educational systems, you too must guard your curiosity!