Read an Excerpt
Curiosità: An Insatiably Curious Approach to Life and an Unrelenting Quest for Continuous Learning
"The desire to know is natural to good people."
Your Curiosità is what led you to open this Workbook . . . your desire to learn and grow is the wellspring of Da Vincian practice. And it can be developed, focused, and put to use more easily than you may have thought. First complete the self-assessment checklist below; your answers will tell you how you are already using itand where there is room for improvement. Then cultivate your own Curiosità through the simple exercises that follow; they will focus your mind-set on growth and change, and invite an acceleration of your personal development. They also set the stage for the application of the other principles and provide fertile ground for the process of clarifying, organizing, and realizing your life goals.
I take adequate time for contemplation and reflection.
I am always learning something new.
When I am faced with an important decision, I actively seek out different perspectives.
I am a voracious reader.
I learn from little children.
I am skilled at identifying and solving problems.
My friends would describe me as open-minded and curious.
When I hear or read a new word or phrase I look it up and make a note of it.
I know a lot about other cultures and am always learning more.
I know or am learning a language other than my native one.
I solicit feedback from my friends, relations, and colleagues.
I love learning.
Rate yourself on Curiosità from 1-10: Who do you know who best embodies the principle of Curiosità? Write their name or names here:
In the space below and on the next page, make a list of 100 questions that are important to you. Your list can include any kind of question as long as it's something you deem significant: anything from "How can I raise my energy level" or "How can I make more time for the people I love?" to "How can I make a difference in this world?" and "How can I deepen my faith?" Do the entire list in one sitting. Write quickly, don't worry about spelling, grammar, or repeating the same question in different words.
Review for Themes
When you have finished, read through your list and highlight the themes that emerge. Did you discover anything you did not expect? Consider the emerging themes without judging them. Are most of your questions about relationships? Business? Fun? Money? The meaning of life?
Top Ten Questions
Now choose the ten questions that seem most significant and write them in the space below. Then rank them in importance from 1-10. (Of course, you can add new questions or change the order at any time.)
The following questions are drawn from different people's "top-ten lists." (Perhaps you generated some similar questions in the previous exercises.) These questions are powerful catalysts to personal growth and fulfillment. Read each question and then write your answer below in stream-of-consciousness style. Then review your answers and see if they inspire an action or change you wish to make in your life. If inspiration strikes, make the change!
When am I most naturally myself? What people, places, and activities allow me to feel most fully myself, to be truly happy? What can I do to create a more supportive, enjoyable environment on a daily basis?
What is one thing I could stop doing, or start doing, or do differently, starting today that would most improve the quality my life? What's stopping me and how can I overcome that resistance?
What is my greatest talent? Do I use my greatest talent enough? How can I develop this talent further?
How can I get paid for doing what I love? What professions require the skills that I love? What do I need to do to pursue these professions?
Who are my most inspiring role models? Do I apply the lessons of my most inspiring role models every day? What could I do to bring more of their inspiration to my life on a daily basis?
How can I best be of service to others? What role does service play in my life today? How can I help those less fortunate than me?
What is my heart's deepest desire? Am I pursuing it every day? How can I orient my life toward my deepest passion? What's stopping me?
What are the greatest obstacles to the furfillment of my dreams and goals? Which of those obstacles are external and which are self-imposed? How can I overcome them?
What are the blessings of my life? Do I recount them every day?
What legacy would I like to leave? Have I shared it with my family and friends so they can help me achieve it? Am I on track to leave it? What do I need to do differently to leave the legacy I choose?
What, When, Who, How, and Where? Think of a problem or question that you are concerned with in your personal or professional life. Write your question or problem statement below, and then answer the questions that follow:
What . . .
is the problem?
are the underlying issues?
preconceptions, prejudices, or paradigms may be influencing my perception?
will happen if I ignore it?
problems may be caused by solving this problem?
metaphors from nature can I use to illuminate it?
When . . .
did it start?
does it happen?
doesn't it happen?
will the consequences of it be felt?
must it be resolved?
Who . . .
cares about it?
is affected by it?
can help solve it?
How . . .
does it happen?
can I get more objective information?
can I look at it from unfamiliar perspectives?
can it be changed?
will I know that it has been solved?
Where . . .
does it happen?
did it begin?
haven't I looked
has this happened?
Why . . .
is it important?
did it start?
does it continue?
Ask Why, Why, Why, Why, Why . . . to get to the bottom of an issue.
What have you learned about your question or problem from asking these questions? Summarize your insights below. (Use your Notebook to do this exercise with other questions or problems. Try this exercise with others in a group problem-solving session.)
Notebook Practice: Stream-of-Consciousness Writing
A powerful complement to contemplation and theme work, stream-of-consciousness writing is a marvelous tool for plumbing the depths of your ideas, dreams, themes, questions, and musings. Choose any question or theme and, working in your Notebook, write your thoughts and associations as they occur, without editing. The secret of effective stream-of-consciousness writing is to keep your pen moving; don't lift it away from the paper or stop to correct your spelling and grammar, just write continuously.
Stream-of-consciousness writing yields lots of nonsense and redundancy, but can lead to profound insight and understanding. Don't worry if you seen to be writing pure gibberish; this is actually a sign that you are overriding the habitual, superficial aspects of your thought process. As you persevere, keeping your pen on the paper and moving it continuously, you'll eventually open a window through which your intuitive intelligence will shine.
Decide on a minimum time for your session, i.e., 3 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.
Take a break after each stream-of-consciousness session.
Go back to your Notebook and read what you have written aloud.
Highlight the words or phrases that speak to you most strongly.
Again, look for themes, the beginnings of poems, and more provocative questions.
Contemplate the metaphor of the poet's motto: "Write drunk, revise sober."
Your Ideal Hobby
The quest for continuous learning is the powerhouse of the Da Vincian spirit. It is, of course, that spirit that inspires you to do the exercises in this book. You can further embrace a Da Vincian approach to life by learning a new discipline.
Most people have an "ideal" or "dream" hobby, something that they have always wanted to learn. People who pursue their dreams passionately find that life becomes richer and more fulfilling. This exercise will help you map out a strategy for realizing your ideal hobby, now. Make a list of your ideal hobbies. (If you are not sure what they are, make some up.)
Then choose one and ask the following questions:
What are my goals?
How will this pursuit enrich my life?
What resources will I need?
Where can I find a good teacher?
How much time will I devote to it?
What obstacles must I overcome?
If you are already doing your ideal hobby then ask: "How can I take it to the next level? How can I get paid for it?"
Leonardo complemented his interpersonal intelligence with a lifelong commitment to developing his intrapersonal intelligence (self-knowledge). In addition to profound contemplation and reflection, Leonardo cultivated self-knowledge by seeking feedback.
You can strengthen Curiosità and deepen self-knowledge by asking your spouse, children, friends, clients, coworkers, boss, and employees for regular feedback. When you ask for feedback, be sure to listen carefully to the responses you receive, especially if they are not what you wanted or expected to hear; don't explain, justify, or argue. It's best not to comment at all, just listen and record.
Choose three people you respect and, in words that are natural to you, ask these questions, and record the responses:
What are my weaknesses, blind spots, and areas for improvement?
What are my strengths, my best qualities?
What can I do to be more effective, helpful, or sensitive?
Getting pure feedback is one of the best ways to nurture Curiosità. As Leonardo wrote: "Be desirous of hearing patiently the opinion of others, and consider and reflect carefully whether he who censures you has reason for his censure."
Summarize what you learned from the feedback exercise here: