Involuntary Learner

Day 189 Week 27 Q3 Sunday, July 9, 2023

Assuming innovators come from the population of creative outliers who also happen to be curiosity outliers. And curious people seem to enjoy being on the steep end of learning curves at the beginning of anything new. After all, when not stuck, we are great starters.  As asserted elsewhere, the act of innovation seems to be fairly involuntary. Innovators innovate because they want to do far more than because others tell them to.

I wonder, are involuntary innovators, Involuntary Learners first? I suppose it could be possible to be curious and not learn anything, but if so innovation would not be that likely to occur. If both curiosity and innovation are involuntary, then could we assume learning is also involuntary and on the critical path to being an innovator?

If so, encountering an involuntary learner might very well be a strong requirement for an involuntary innovator. Not all involuntary learners are innovators, but I bet all innovators are involuntary learners. This, by the way, is not necessarily a good predictor of academic performance, for schools are most certainly not the only way for innovators to learn things. 

Innovators probably learn the things they want to learn involuntarily. They are curious in general but become strongly attracted to specific ideas and directions, which compel us to learn as much as we can about a given field of interest. Once the tractor beam is on, a school may simply not be moving quickly enough until getting to graduate school. Many innovators give up on school long before that because, as involuntary learners, they are bored.

I personally loved going to school, which was one of the reasons to go to college for a decade. Of course, there is the issue of the relationship between the requirements and actual learning, which is not always smooth; one of the reasons many innovators learn a great deal from their own investigations inevitably leads to their conducting their own experiments, for we have a tendency to trust what we gain empirically more than by what we are told. Trust but verify is part of being on the innovation path.

Is there a relationship between involuntary learning and experimentation?  No doubt, because conducting experiments is much harder than not conducting them, and no one would put in the effort unless they really wanted to learn or validate something.

We seem to have a lot of involuntariness piling up here. Let’s see curiosity, learning, experimentation and innovation; they all seem to lead toward each other involuntarily. They seem to travel in a pack. We might even throw in seekers, too, as most innovators seek something. We are seeking ways to improve things. We are seeking solutions and answers. And I doubt that any of this activity is voluntary.  

Do we choose to be seekers or curious? Or to do experiments or to learn? Or to innovate? I think not, and this is a good thing because these five mentioned activities are hard.

Are you an involuntary learner?