I tried a fun little experiment today, after being put off by the inundating number and variety of unrelated social and professional feeds that I have willingly subscribed to. I decided to read just one article today – yes just one article that interested me and stick with it. No skimming through headlines on Linkedin or Twitter feeds and of course no email for two hours. Sounds frivolous? Maybe. Sounds easy? Try it!

This post by Jocelyn Glei on the 99% blog caught my attention because anything that has “wrong-thinking” in its title will catch my attention. But also because of an unusual reference – the To Do list of Leonardo Da Vinci! Its a great post on creativity – anyone who is remotely associated with the business of innovation and creativity should read it and will enjoy the insights shared.

So what does sticking to just one article do for you?

Lets start with the curious mind of Da Vinci:

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What a jumble! Cannons, wall construction, studying the sun, ice skating in Flanders, optics, and that oh-so-casual, “Draw Milan.” It’s like his mind could wander off in any direction at any time. How did he concentrate? How did he focus? How many times do we stop ourselves from thinking let alone talking about something just because it seems unrelated? How many questions pop up in our minds about how things work? Why they are the way they are? I love driving around San Francisco with tourist relatives because they ask questions about the place I love in which I have no clue about. Rude but fascinating shock on how much we don’t know about the place we live in!

This part of the post got me thinking about curiosity. What is curiosity? According to David Kelly of Ideo, curiosity is just a strategy for learning; the highest level of anything you can do — is have that mindset of “I want to learn more.” Someone else says curiosity is thinking beyond what you normally think about. I also ran into more interesting definitions – curiosity is getting bugged, some say its an emotion and some say it is what differentiates us from animals. I believe animals are as curious but lets leave that for another discussion.

Great definitions, although it is disheartening how we all have lost touch with our childlike curiosity! How can I inspire myself and others to stay in touch with our inane capacity to explore and learn more. Which led me to create an action item – create a “Stay Curious” toolkit. Stay tuned!

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I now wanted to capture all of these wonderful ideas and insights. I need to write stuff down, no wait, I can simply Evernote or Springpad it? Of course it will get archived, never to be read again like hundreds of other links. But I wanted to keep Da Vinci’s To Do list with me for ongoing (and accessible) referencing… for storytelling and for kicking me in the butt every time I got complacent about asking questions. So I went to Moleskine for rescue!

Moleskine Printables is a boon for people like me who love notebooks and generally never fill them up completely. Using this tool you can print images and text that you don’t want to write down. Just cut it out and stick the printed material in your notebooks. Make sure to leave some blank spaces for jotting further notes and ideas. Voila! Now I can re-purpose all of my half-used sketchbooks and journals! Brilliant!

Now back to the article. Further reading of the post led me to another curious mind and the delightfully weird sketches of Alexander Graham Bell. Its a rare archive and certainly a privilege to get a peek into this great mind and his sketches (if you are remotely a fan of visual thinking as I am). Check out this cool sketch about the elevator where he says 1, 2,3, Lift!

I realized as I explored Bell’s mind and ideas, that I had happily let those tweets pass by. The world did not come to an end! But a little indulgence generated tons of inspiration for me and of course I enjoyed the brilliant company (Da Vinci, Bell) I also made acquaintances with two impressive artists and a curious NPR blogger!

As Einstein said: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Hmm… now for exploring the mind of Einstein; maybe another rainy afternoon? Stay curious!

References and Image Credits:
Krulwich wonders on NPR

Alexander Graham Bell’s delightfully weird sketchbooks