Know Irrelevant Things
I think titling this note “be curious” would be too vague, but I do think it’s basically what the conversation is about.
Being interested in things that don’t have an immediate need or benefit for you is important and enriching. It makes you a cooler and more interesting person living a more psychologically rich life. It gives you more to talk and think about, which naturally leads to more learning and discovery.
…but Master of None
The hallmark of curiosity is a thirst for knowledge that has no obvious utility.— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) January 30, 2021
Being a lifelong learner is taking joy in exploration regardless of whether the discovery has immediate relevance.
The goal is to understand for the sake of understanding.
Irrelevant is a misnomer
The trick about knowing irrelevant things is that they often wind up being valuable in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s as a metaphor, allowing you to think or talk about things in a different way. Often it’s context that becomes transferrable to very different subjects.
Adam Grant talks in his TEDTalk on originals about how the Mona Lisa took Michelangelo many years to complete, but that his time spent studying lenses between periods of working on the painting changed the way he painted light.