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The Inner Dragon: Curiosity

Problems are everywhere, but curiosity isn’t. Some people aren’t willing to ask the hard questions—the ones that will lead to real solutions. But fiercely creative people are.

Our Unleashing Your Inner Dragon series has been all about the power, possibility, and potential that is created when you allow your inner dragon of fierce creativity to leave its cave of fear and breathe fire into the world. We’ve talked about the beliefs we have about unleashing this inner dragon, and today, we’re exploring another one:

We believe in curiosity.

Life is full of challenges (individual and communal), many of which we don’t feel like we can handle. But your inner dragon doesn’t get discouraged. Instead, it gets curious. It realizes that someone needs to do something, and it uses curiosity to find solutions. It explores and experiments, asking questions and trying new things so that it can take on the challenges of the world. Be the “someone.” Get curious and rise to the occasion.

Your inner dragon is fierce, but it’s also curious. It asks questions, because it wants to work on solving real, meaningful problems—whether they involve you, your family, your community, or the entire world. The size of the problem itself is less important than the curiosity to explore it, the willingness to solve it, and the fierceness applied toward finding the solution.

With that said, let’s break down our belief in curiosity.

“Life is full of challenges (individual and communal), many of which we don’t feel like we can handle.”

Unfortunately, this requires very little explanation. Everyone faces challenges every day, some big, some small. Everyone has a different capacity for handling those challenges. For some people, getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge they struggle to overcome. Other people tackle financial troubles, career setbacks, social rejection, single parenthood, chronic illness—things that we might consider “bigger” problems. Challenges hit us in different ways at different times, but the existence of challenge, adversity, and hardship is universal.

“But your inner dragon doesn’t get discouraged. Instead, it gets curious.”

The challenges that hit us the hardest can tempt us into a victim mentality. When you have a victim mentality, you tend to:

-Complain about problems
-Feel out of control or powerless
-See the world as a dangerous or threatening place
-Blow problems out of proportion
-Feel overwhelmed easily, especially when your plans are thrown off
-Feel paranoid or like people are “out to get you”
-Underestimate your own ability to handle or solve problems

Clearly, a victim mindset is not very conducive to happiness.

“The victim mindset will have you dancing with the devil, then complaining that you’re in hell.”

Steve Maraboli

A victim mentality is not a creative one—it’s a reactive one. Victims see life as something that happens to them, not for them or because of them. Because of this, victims feel powerless to solve the problems they face; after all, the world is in charge, not them.

Fierce creativity, however, is willing to put aside victim thinking in order to get curious. It’s willing to ask the questions that need to be asked, to push itself to its limit to find a fix or an answer to even the biggest, most complicated problems. Why? Because it believes that it’s possible. Fierce creativity helps you recognize that there is always something you can do to try to make things better, and if you’re curious enough, you can find out what it is.

“It realizes that someone needs to do something, and it uses curiosity to find solutions. It explores and experiments, asking questions and trying new things so that it can take on the challenges of the world.”

“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.”

Tina Fey

The problems that overwhelm us the most are the ones that are likely to send us into victim thinking, which means they’re the ones we’re most likely to ignore. But that’s probably a sign that they’re also the most important ones to address. A big problem is a sign that it’s time to get curious.

An inner dragon recognizes this. Your inner dragon wants to solve these problems, because it cares about the problem it’s facing—and by extension, so do you. Your inner dragon will be spurred to solve the problems you really care about. Which means it will start using curiosity to find creative solutions.

Are you going to let your inner dragon take a shot at solving these problems, or are you going to shut it up and force it back into its cave?

Your inner dragon isn’t a random, uncontrollable, violent force: it’s the passion and fierceness inside of you that awakens and uses curiosity to find solutions that will have a meaningful impact on your life. You have to let it out. If you don’t, your powerful inner dragon becomes virtually powerless.

“Be the ‘someone.’ Get curious and rise to the occasion.”

There are big problems in the world. There may be big problems (or problems that feel big) in your personal life. But here’s the question you have to ask yourself: Am I willing and able to get curious, so that I can be part of the solution? If I don’t do something, who will?

You don’t have to be an expert in the field. You don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you what to do. If you care about a problem, you have all the permission you need to start working on a solution. You have what you need to start exploring and experimenting, putting your curiosity to work so that the solutions come to you.

To be clear, not every problem is going to be yours to solve. You can’t carry the weight and responsibility of every problem on your shoulders. That’s not realistic or healthy. But if something really resonates with you, if there’s a problem that impacts you in a powerful way, that’s when it’s time to get curious, and to let the inner dragon out. That’s when it’s time to start thinking of fiercely creative solutions that will help you “create happy” in your life and/or in the world. That inner dragon is waiting to be used. Use it.

Design your thoughts to build curiosity

Not everyone finds it easy to get curious about a particular problem. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the opposite is true: most people tend to default toward victim thinking, overwhelm, discouragement, and ultimately, inaction. It’s easier for these people to jump to judgment rather than curiosity. They say “I’ve already made up my mind about that problem; it’s depressing/discouraging/sad/overwhelming/etc.”

The good news is that you have the power to control your thoughts. You can work to design thoughts that pull you out of victim thinking and help you tap into your curiosity. This will allow you to find meaningful solutions to meaningful problems, even if they feel overwhelming at first.

Here are some examples of how you can replace “judgment statements” with “curiosity statements.”

Judgment statementCuriosity statement
“That’s a dumb way to do that job.”“I wonder why they chose to do it that way.”
“I don’t know what he’s thinking.”“He must know something I don’t.”
“That’s wrong.”“That’s interesting.”
“There’s nothing I can do about that.”“What do I wish I could do about that?”
“That mistake is unfixable.”“What can I learn from that mistake?”
“I can’t do anything right.”“What’s something new I could try?”
“The world is a dangerous place.”“I know there’s good in the world; how can I spread it?”

Focusing on curiosity is a hallmark of fierce creativity. Fierce creativity is all about asking the questions no one else wants to ask, and tackling the problems no one else wants to tackle. It’s about thinking of innovative solutions that address problems in new ways. And it’s about giving your inner dragon more power to breathe fire and passion into the causes that you believe in.

The world is full of problems. It’s up to us to use our curiosity to help create the solutions.

Get curious and find solutions, with Design.org

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