“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Adventures of a Curious Character

My book review this week is Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman.

Besides winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965, Feynman was an eccentric, larger than life character with a list of achievements and accolades that are hard to fathom. He actively worked on the development of the atomic bomb, traded ideas with Einstein, Bohr, and Nick the Greek, cracked safes guarding highly sensitive atomic secrets, played bongo drums for a ballet, along with a host of other eclectic activities and accomplishments. This is a highly entertaining book full of funny stories, technical theory, and valuable life principles.

My takeaways from this book are the principles that Feynman discovered and exemplified throughout his life. I have listed a few of them below:

What Everybody Ought to Know About Certainty And How It Can Hurt You

Certainty is one of the weakest positions in life. Curiosity is one of the most powerful. Certainty prohibits learning and curiosity fuels change.Dr. Henry Cloud 

This quote is extremely powerful and should trigger some deep reflection in each of us.

How many times have we walked into a situation like a meeting, negotiation, conversation or argument with absolute certainty in our position? I know I am guilty of this way too often. How many of these situations resulted in unnecessary conflict or a solution that was not optimal?

What if you had entered these situations with an open mind, willing to understand other viewpoints and learn about the positions that others have on the topic? What if you were truly curious and open to solving the situation in the most productive way possible instead of simply bulldozing through to your solution?