I never thought of curiosity as anything other than inquisitiveness. Curiosity killed the cat and all that. But Scott Shigeoka has opened my eyes.
In his book Seek: How Curiosity Can Transform Your Life and Change the World, Shigeoka turns curiosity into a science, a leadership trait, and an essential ingredient in the art of living well.
About Scott Shigeoka
Scott Shigeoka describes himself as “a city-dwelling liberal Asian American spiritually queer professor and researcher from Hawai’i.” That alone will inspire curiosity!
He’s actually an internationally recognized curiosity expert, speaker, and author. He researches and teaches strategies that promote positive well-being and connected relationships at the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and the University of Texas at Austin. He also works on creative storytelling projects with some of the world’s most impactful and influential artists and has spoken at Pixar, IDEO, Airbnb, Google, and universities around the world.
To test his findings and push curiosity’s transformative and connective power to its limits, Shigeoka took a 45,000-mile road trip across the United States, throwing himself into uncomfortable situations like attending a Trump rally and talking to one of the country’s most prominent pastors.
While stories from this trip color the pages of Seek, the book is not a memoir of his travels. Instead, it’s a deep dive into curiosity, what it is, and how it can be used to improve your life and relationships, both personally and professionally.
When I sat down to read Seek, I was excited to explore curiosity on a deeper level. Though I’ve always been a curious person, I’d never thought about the trait in depth. And quite honestly, I was fascinated by Shigeoka’s road trip. I was eager to read any stories he might share from his experiences.
Of course, the book isn’t about the road trip. You’ll get some of those stories, but they’re more illustrative than anything else. The book is really about Shigeoka’s framework of curiosity and how it can be used to bring more understanding and kindness into a fiercely divided world.
Some of Shigeoka’s insights are eye-opening, especially the way he categorizes curiosity. He talks about incuriosity, shallow curiosity, and deep curiosity. Interestingly, most of us who consider ourselves curious are probably practicing shallow curiosity.
Deep curiosity is very intentional. Its focus isn’t to manipulate but to find areas of agreement. It’s not about knowing what your archnemesis is up to but about bridging the gaps between ourselves and people we don’t understand or agree with. It’s about seeing the world through other peoples’ eyes.
I always appreciate a systematic approach to topics, and Shigeoka doesn’t disappoint. His framework for developing deep curiosity is DIVE: Detach, Intend, Value, and Embrace. Each element of the framework is easy to grasp. It’s filled with stories, examples, and research. Each also comes with exercises that will help you become more curious in that area.
I also like the flexibility Shigeoka gives us to explore curiosity in the way that works best for us: “Although the model is written D-I-V-E, I want to be clear that this is not a linear process. Each element is equally important to practice, and you can approach them in any order.”
Seek is an enjoyable read. It’s well written, well organized, and interesting. After reading it, I can see areas where I’ve already been practicing deep curiosity and areas where I could improve. I also have a deeper appreciation for curiosity as a tool for connecting with people and breaking down barriers. I highly recommend it.
After all, curiosity doesn’t just kill the cat. It really can make a difference in the world.
As Shigeoka says, “Life will continue to throw curveballs at us, and society will continue to grapple with crisis after crisis…. The next time the rug is pulled out from under you, don’t hide. Instead, I ask you to seek.”