- Why can intellectual curiosity change the world but not necessarily make it better?
- Why should we consider shifting from the pursuit of the “Cool” to include the pursuit of the “Good”?
Oftentimes, when I look at a job description for just about any industry and my eyes move down to the “qualifications” the candidate should bring, I notice this one bullet that reads something like “strong intellectual curiosity.” Back in the day I thought this simply referred to the idea of being interested in as many things as possible. Later, when I got into consulting, I realized it referred more to the ability to tolerate and endure boring projects when you were staffed in something that could not be further from intellectually stimulating to you. For instance, if you were originally passionate about media and technology companies in Silicon Valley, but got assigned to work for six months at a mining company in Canada or a wood polish manufacturer in the U.S. Midwest, having “intellectual curiosity” meant that you would be less likely to jump off your hotel window on a depressing, cloudy Wisconsin Sunday afternoon.
But today I don’t want to talk about intellectual curiosity as a mere ability to endure the inane. Instead, I want to examine it in its classical sense as what most would consider a very positive driving force for intelligent people to engage in productive activity. However, I want to assert that for recent centuries it may have been dangerously overrated just about everywhere in the world… at the expense of something more important. I will argue that despite the marvelous inventions that we have been afforded by raw intellectual curiosity (and talent), overall many of us motivated by our talents and intellectual gifts do not necessarily find ourselves happier or at greater inner peace. Something is missing. But what?