A friend and mentor once told me that curiosity is intellectual courage. I not only agree with this off-the-cuff definition, but I also find curiosity to be the most underrated virtue. As a new dad, one of the things I enjoy most about my child is her curiosity. Her desire to understand the world around her is an inspiring process that leads to development, problem-solving, and more curiosity. It also made me ask myself a hard question: Where does it go? As we become adults, at what point does the inherent need for learning and solving problems diminish? I think that need does diminish because we allow it to. 

I’m in my second term at Fuqua, and I find myself once again asking questions and solving problems in completely new ways—ways that lead to more questions. The academic instruction has been nothing short of phenomenal, but the real source of inspiration is my cohort. My classmates hail from a myriad of backgrounds, countries, and professions. We have doctors, engineers, scientists, military aviators and special operators, accountants, bankers, marketers, administrators, and countless others. This diversity of thought is no accident. So far, my time at Fuqua has been marked by exposure to and embrace of new perspectives, and yes… even more questions.

Being in a learning environment surrounded by brilliant people is refreshing and inspiring. The opportunity to learn is what we’re really seeking, but as I discovered, simply being present isn’t nearly enough. I made a commitment to myself to be more curious—but how? How do I embrace curiosity but also bridge the gap between contributing intellectually and not seeming like I slipped through the cracks in the admissions process?

Here’s my playbook so far:

“Be curious, not judgmental.”

I realize this is a circular definition, but I think the first step in being curious is to not be judgmental, embracing the words of Ted Lasso (and Walt Whitman). On the Friday morning of residency, I leave my preconceived notions—how something should look, feel, act and reason—at the door.

Be vulnerable.

I think being courageous is synonymous with being vulnerable. Intellectual courage is no different. To be curious, I must be willing to ask questions that make me uncomfortable and explore endeavors that might be risky. As a veteran, I made a career out of doing this physically but doing it mentally might be tougher.

Let it happen.

View the world and new experiences through an open aperture the way a child touches grass and stares at Christmas lights. I am transitioning into the business world from the military, and as I continue my education, I could not be more pleased with the resources I have to ensure I remain intellectually courageous. Through guest speakers, clubs, seminars, curriculum, and my cohort, I have been filled with a sense of wonder and an insatiable need to ask new questions. I’m fortunate to realize that my most valuable takeaway thus far is that Fuqua fosters curiosity.

Kyle Goodman, a student in the Weekend Executive MBA program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, holding his young daughter, facing away from the camera toward a decorated christmas tree