Guest post by Ted Lamade, Managing Director at The Carnegie Institution for Science
There is a great scene in the first season of Ted Lasso in which the show’s antagonist, Rupert Mannion, challenges Lasso to a game of darts. After seeing him make a few poor throws, Mannion is confident that it is easy money. The two play and Mannion appears to be on the verge of winning with Lasso needing two “triple 20s” and a bullseye on his final three shots. Then, just before he throws his darts, Lasso turns to Mannion and says in his Southern drawl,
“You know Rupert, guys have underestimated me my entire life. It used to really bother me, but then one day I was driving my little boy to school and saw a quote by Walt Whitman painted on a wall that said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental’. I liked that. See all those fellas who belittled me, none of them were curious. They thought they had everything figured out. So, they judged everything* and everyone*. And then I realized that their underestimating me had nothing to do with it…..because if they were curious, they would have asked questions. Questions like, ‘Have you played a lot of darts Ted?’ Which I would have answered, ‘Yes sir. Every Sunday afternoon at a sports bar with my father from age 10 until I was 16 until he passed away’.”
Lasso proceeds to drill all three shots and wins the game (watch the scene on YouTube if you have a minute). In short, a hustler got hustled because he wasn’t curious enough. He made judgements based on incorrect assumptions and didn’t ask the right questions
Being curious is one of life’s most underappreciated qualities. It’s an admission that you don’t have it all figured out. It means you’re willing to listen and learn. Most importantly, it often differentiates the good from the great.
Ted Lasso is a work of fiction, but this concept of curiosity is not. Look no further than what Walter Isaacson said was the most common trait he observed in the people he wrote about in his book “The Innovators”.
“Curiosity. Pure, passionate, and playful curiosity about everything. Steve Jobs was curious about calligraphy and coding, while Da Vinci was curious about art and anatomy. They wanted to know everything about everything that was knowable. Ben Franklin wanted to know about science, the humanities and poetry. Even Einstein wanted to understand Mozart at the same time that he studied general relativity. Curiosity leads to an interest in all sorts of disciplines, which means you can stand at the intersection of the arts and sciences, which is where creativity occurs. A wide range in curiosity allows you to see patterns exist across nature and how those patterns ripple.”
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