What is the key to truly influencing people? And who can you really help?
Have you heard what Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, said about this?
“We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.”
He’s right. If we want to make a difference in people’s lives we have to get their attention enough so that they will really want to ‘buy into’ what we have to share. You have to find out what arouses their curiosity.
Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein—they were all curious. They were all genius. And if we’re honest we eventually realize that every human has some element of genius in their makeup, begging to be activated. What is the curiosity ‘ticket’ that will cause another human to engage with you on whatever it is you would like to influence them about? What will make them actually want to draw out from you the discoveries that you have made?
“The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Why is Curiosity Important and How can we Develop It?
Let’s look at four reasons.
1.. It makes your mind active instead of passive.
Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger. Curiosity really does require some energy. You have to put yourself into it.
2.. It makes your mind observant of new ideas.
When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right by you and you’ll miss them entirely because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas you may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
3.. It opens up new worlds and possibilities.
By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities. There are possibilities just waiting to make a huge difference in your life TODAY. Just think. You’re one person, one greeting, one meeting away from having a totally different life. If you’ll be curious enough in your daily coming and going, you’ll anticipate an exciting new adventure every day. Who is the Lord going to bring across your path today? What new bit of information you discover today is going to revolutionize your life forever?
4.. It brings excitement into your life.
The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention. There are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.
There’s a lot going for being curious, isn’t there?
Who Can You Truly Help?
Whose lives can you influence with positive benefits? Who are the people you want to talk to? Who are the ones most open minded to what you have to share with them?
To everyone who absolutely loves to help other people – unless you love ‘beating your head against the wall’ and constantly feeling like you are in the business of ‘convincing’ people against their will – you must finally come to grips with the fact that there are really only a minority of the people out there who are even interested in hearing what you have to say. Who are they? You can find them easily because their mind is actually working— and working in their favor. It kind of reminds you of a parachute… It only works when it’s open! It’s the open-minded people who are actually willing to discover something that they don’t know and are willing to really admit that they don’t know what they don’t know.
Open minded people are curious people. They are the ones who discover new things that are life-changing. Do you want to know how to spot those who are open-minded?
Open-minded people are constantly excited about their personal discovery of new things. But more importantly, they’re eager for developing their life. They’re serious about improving their health. And they truly want to be better stewards of their resources. They’re not afraid to be ACTIVE receivers of the blessing of the Apostle John’s wish where he said, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2). That’s a ‘multi-dimensional’ objective. It includes your soul, your body, your physical situation… it’s our life.
How can a person honestly say they want to receive the goal of that prayer IF they’re unwilling to do their part to adjust their attitudes and behaviors that will enable the desired result to manifest in their own life?
Have you noticed that our society has unfortunately promoted a rather negative and cynical attitude that easily rubs off on many people who are inclined to be more pessimistic than optimistic?
Now I realize that you have to try your best to get along with everybody. But does that mean you have to ‘spin your wheels’ wasting much of your energy and time with people who really don’t want to better themselves?
Identify the humble-hearted
There’s an important lesson we need to learn from the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, who said that you need to “shake the dust off your feet” and move on. Imagine that. Even when you’ve got the most life-changing and positive message to give someone, if they don’t receive what you have to say, pack up and find someone who is OPEN. There’s a reason it says “the humble shall inherit the land and delight in abundant prosperity” – the humble one is the one who knows he doesn’t know it all and is open to hear what you have to say – explore undiscovered realms of life-building insights. That’s what the humble person wants to do. I hope that is YOU. Are you willing to discover new things? Things that you don’t know that you don’t know?
It isn’t a bad idea to start out a conversation with someone and ‘take their temperature’ to see if you’re going to have a short conversation or if they’re someone who you might want to dive a little deeper with. Try something like: “Hey, I thought of you and wondered if you’re open to see what I’ve been discovering lately.” If they respond with cynicism, sarcasm or condescension, just tell them, “Oh, that’s okay, did you hear the weather forecast for next week?” and move on to other topics. Don’t even try to engage their mind. It’s not working anyway! Remember the parachute?
Questions that Naturally open their minds
On the bright side, don’t let their pessimism wear you down. Be encouraged with the hope that there really are a lot of people out there who are plenty happy to hear what you have to share with them. Start asking questions that reflect your honest care for people. Ask them what would make them happier than they are right now. Ask them if they’re open to a new idea. Ask them if they’d like to make a difference in the lives of those they themselves care about. Ask them if they have taken the course you just learned about on how to …be healthier, …save more of their hard earned money, or …leverage their time to get more done and have more time to do the things they like to do. Ask people if they would be open to talk with you about your new discovery.
With some people, if you’re brave, you might even be able to ask them, “You wanna know what I learned about people that are open? … Turns out that they are the same people who like to better themselves, improve their health and make more money so they can do more good in the world!” Then you could follow up with another question like, “Can you think of anybody who thinks like that?” … and laugh with them if they seem to be good natured enough to engage with you. Just dialog. Help them get intrigued and curious about your new ideas that you’d like to influence them about.
You might think that everybody wants to solve their problems and find solutions for the things that cause them pain in their life. But think about that. If they really did want that – solutions for their problems – then why aren’t they actively pursuing it? How often do you find even yourself in the same old ‘rut,’ doing the same old actions, and getting the same old results? Doesn’t that seem like what Albert Einstein defined as ‘insanity?’ Unfortunately, that is where all too many of us are today.
A major lesson of life
Sometimes we have to rekindle the hope, inspire the optimism and rebuild the curiosity that makes people want to discover new things. Just be careful not to ‘cast your pearls before swine’ if you know what I mean. For an energetic young optimist, that’s one of life’s hardest lessons to learn. The only ones you can help… really help… are those who really want to be helped. You ‘gotta wanna’ have the results bad enough to exercise some initiative to get what you want. And if a person doesn’t respond to you with some energy …some interest …some sincere curiosity, you must not let them drag you into an argument that goes nowhere. Your time is to valuable for that.
So, don’t forget this one. It’ll save you a lot of wasted time and energy. Test the waters. Ask some good questions to see if they’re open. Don’t be afraid to taunt them a little bit if you have a good rapport with them. But don’t ‘show your hand’ too soon. See if they’re ready to activate their mind. And when you’re confident that they are ready, just give them a few nibbles to see if they really want more. Make a plan with them to talk again later and see if you have something that really can help them. Let the curiosity factor ‘work’ on their subconscious. That way they’ll be ready to hear you with both ears when you’re with them again.
Be sure you have some good reasons for the person you’re wanting to influence to continue their interaction with you. Don’t give them the whole ‘truckload’ of information that’s on your mind in your first dialog. Help them establish curiosity to hear more from you at another time.
Now, knowing the importance of curiosity, here are some tips to develop it.
Keep an open mind
This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, relearn, and unlearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind. Some of the opinion and ideas we grew up thinking and believing are just simply wrong, inaccurate or downright untrue. That’s why the Bible urges us to “test all things.” Hold fast what is true.
Don’t take things for granted
If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things for granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.
Ask questions relentlessly
A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.
Don’t label something as boring
Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.
See learning as something fun
If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, exciting and adventuresome, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process. Who knows what discoveries lie ahead that you never thought of before?
Read diverse kinds of reading
Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another world. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world. As a believer and follower of Christ, why not ask God, “guide me into good, wholesome and productive things that will make a difference, not only in my life, but in the lives of others whom I touch.
When you do that there’s no telling all the benefits, the development and the character enrichment that will go on in your life, not to mention the ability to influence others in positive ways. You’re going to make a difference to see some changes in your life in the very near future, as you wait on God to bring experiences into your life. But make sure you actively pursue them. Don’t just sit there. Take action. Take the course. Read the book. Step out of your comfort zone. Talk to somebody. Go to a meeting. Attend a new special event. When you do, your life will change.