This morning Seth Godin posted something on his blog that got me thinking:

Thirsty

I’ve noticed that people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books also tend to be intellectually curious, thirsty for knowledge, quicker to adopt new ideas and more likely to do important work.

I wonder which comes first, the curiosity or the success?

To answer his question directly, I’d have to say that I think the curiosity comes first.

Success Factors - Our choices about where we put our attention make all the difference.

Curiosity, and in particular the drive to learn and network seem to me to be key to success.  But at the same time, curiosity on its own is not necessarily useful.   It can be so easy to get caught in endless loops of surfing and “study” that that somehow feels productive, but never seems to actually get anything done.

So to be truly successful, I think the key is more then just being curious, but directing that curiosity in a way that has you networking with people and learning things that are supportive to what you are trying to do, and balancing those activities with everything else that needs to be done….

I think that the idea of “most productive actions” is an important one – and that people who are successful are people who (at least for the most part) are consistently identifying their most productive actions and focusing on them.

One of the things that’s so hard about the Internet is the avalanche of information on virtually any topic that is available.  It’s so easy for a simple curiosity to lead to extensive surfing or research – and sometimes that leads to a breakthrough – and sometimes to wasted time……  Perhaps the real key is an ability to intuit which of those roads you’re going down.

Jeff Jarvis, a blogger and professor of Interactive Journalism at CUNY (and a really smart guy) loves to talk about the need for what he calls curation on the web.  Finding ways to consume the information YOU are looking for, without spending tons of time looking for it, by finding aggregations of relevant materials.  The aggregations may be created by humans, or by machine automatically, or a combination of the two – but I love the concept.  I’d love to open my google reader (or some other tool) and have, as if by magic, a list of news stories, blog posts and podcasts that I’m interested in and that are relevant to what I’m doing.  We have a way to go to get there.  In the mean time, I think success requires being our own curators – making sure we sift though the maze and engage with the material that is significant and interesting, and leaving the rest.

How do you do it?  Post in the comments.