The Secret to a Bigger Life
I'd like to tell stories about how curiosity has helped me make movies. I'd like to tell stories about how curiosity has helped me be a better boss, a better friend, a better businessman, a better dinner guest.
I'd like to tell stories about the sheer joy of discovery that open-ended curiosity offers. That's the kind of joy we have as kids when we learn things just because we're curious. You can keep doing that as an adult, and it's just as much fun.
The most effective way to pass on these stories—to illustrate the power and variety of curiosity—is to write them down.
So that's what you're holding in your hand. I teamed up with journalist and author Charles Fishman, and over the course of eighteen months, we talked two or three times a week—we've had more than a hundred conversations, every one of them about curiosity.
I know very well how important curiosity has been to my life. As you'll see in the coming chapters, I long ago figured out how to be systematic about using curiosity to help me tell stories, to help me make good movies, to help me learn about parts of the world far from Hollywood. One of the things I've done for thirty-five years is sit down and have conversations with people from outside show business—"curiosity conversations" with people immersed in everything from particle physics to etiquette.
But I had never turned my curiosity on curiosity itself. So I've spent the last two years thinking about it, asking questions about it, trying to understand how it works.
In the course of exploring and unpacking it, in the course of diagramming curiosity and dissecting its anatomy, we discovered something interesting and surprising. There's a spectrum of curiosity, like there's a spectrum of colors of light. Curiosity comes in different shades and different intensities for different purposes.
The technique is the same—asking questions—regardless of the subject, but the mission, the motivation, and the tone vary. The curiosity of a detective trying to solve a murder is very different from the curiosity of an architect trying to get the floor plan right for a family's house.
The result is, admittedly, a slightly unusual book. We tell it in the first person, in the voice of Brian Grazer, because the central stories come from my life and work.
Partly, then, the book is a portrait of me. But, in fact, it's more of a working portrait of curiosity itself.
Curiosity has taken me on a lifetime of journeys. Asking questions about curiosity itself in the last two years has been fascinating.
And one thing I know about curiosity: it's democratic. Anyone, anywhere, of any age or education level, can use it. One reminder of curiosity's quiet power is that there are still countries on Earth where you have to be very careful at whom you aim your curiosity. Being curious in Russia has proven fatal; being curious in China can land you in prison.
But even if your curiosity is suppressed, you can't lose it.
It's always on, always waiting to be unleashed.
The goal of A Curious Mind is simple: I want to show you how valuable curiosity can be, and remind you how much fun it is. I want to show you how I use it, and how you can use it.
Life isn't about finding the answers, it's about asking the questions.