I heard this long ago, and cannot quote the source, that curiosity is one of the precursors for success.
This makes perfect sense to me, especially when coupled with intellectualism and a desire to learn. If we try to generalize this in terms of highly respectful, successful (business) people for they are most visible, it seems to hold.
Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk to name a few all seem to be or to have been visionaries in their respective fields. And vision must come with a level of curiosity and appetite for risk because one is necessarily abandoning the level of comfort that certainty offers.
Daniel Kahneman is one of my favorite thinkers in the field of behavioral economics and that research in itself, that eventually led to a Nobel Memorical Prize in Economic Sciences, was inspired by sheer intellectual curiosity. He talks of conversations with his mentor and partner before theories became theories, when all they had were the hunches, thoughts and ideas.
History is ridden with examples, as far back as Icarus and Daedalus dreamed of flying. As the story goes, they were not successful but success is a relative thing. We were just discovering aviation 100 years ago and a certain someone mentioned above is planning a human settlement on Mars in my lifetime.
It seems like the best strides happen when there’s a perceived lunatic with a vision. Like when Tesla and his financier friend sent power to Buffalo, NY from the world’s first hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls. Of course, we won’t all go and achieve fabulous things mentioned above. Not all of us are so lucky or aspirational. Some yearn for simpler things.
I had a simple agenda for my life and generally wanted to achieve two things. Was lucky and fortunate to pick a path, stick with it and ignore the nay-sayers. Achieved those two things and so much more.
Success? For every individual to define. But I define myself as crazy successful and income is just one small facet of it. My success came because of endless curiosity that led to learning and self improvement, maniacal determination to finish and get things done, and because of a fearless attitude that allowed me to face the most difficult life challenges. A unique combo of traits you are either born with or can work on.