Many things in life involve tradeoffs. A source of what is good in life can be a source of what is bad in life. That inevitable tradeoff applies to curiosity-and there is nothing like failure and mistakes to teach a person the right approach to curiosity. The wise investor will acquire a sort of muscle memory about curiosity based on actual experience. Curiosity about life and restraint about difficult decision are part of munger’s approach to life. Seeking more information about a topic, even though it has no present value to a person, is a natural human drive. One can speculate that having this information has option value. However, the price of too much curiosity can be high. Finding the right balance in thins involving tradeoffs like curiosity is a key part of acquiring wisdom.
An example of a problem arising from too much curiosity would be a tycoon who is curious to see whether he or she can finally be the person to make a long-term profit in the airline business. There’s an old joke on this plan: “How do you become a millionaire? Start as a billionaire and buy an airline.” Buffet himself jokes that he has a toll-free number he can call which will talk him out of investing in airlines whenever he gets the urge. Curiosity can also cause an investor to engage in too many activities or a business owner to offer too many products and services, but end up failing by offering none. Startup founders can end up repeatedly “pivoting” their business (i.e., changing business models or business categories) into oblivion if they overload on curiosity. At the same time, curiosity can lead to important breakthroughs for a business. Striking the right balance on something like curiosity requires judgement
Curiosity can provide both fun and wisdom, and occasionally trouble.
Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why. ~Bernard Baruch
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. ~Albert Einstein
A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education. ~Smiley Blanton