January 2023     Edition 167
Intellectual Curiosity

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Intellectual Curiosity is the desire to acquire knowledge

in order to gain a deeper understanding without a predisposition of the use of that knowledge.

People who have a lot of Intellectual Curiosity are always asking



, not to make a judgement, but for their own enlightenment.   They may ask why you do something the way you do it, not to criticize the way you
re doing it, but to potentially gain the knowledge of how to do something in a different way.    People who have a lot of Intellectual Curiosity are lifelong learners … they are always seeking to understand.

Those who have a lot of Intellectual Curiosity can accumulate a broad and sometimes deep knowledge base

and understanding of things that may be completely unrelated to their line of work.   Then perhaps years later, they might be able to make a significant contribution to an issue because they can draw on that extensive knowledge base.

TV and YouTube videos about how things work attract those who either have a specific issue (like something to fix) or are just intellectually curious about things.   I know some people who still watch
s It
s Made
just because, while others could care less.

Humans seem to be born with a good degree of Intellectual Curiosity

.  A young child might ask how something works, or why something is, not because they have a better idea, but because they just want to know.  As a parent, if you encourage those questions and thoughtfully answer them, that Intellectual Curiosity will continue into their adulthood.  On the other hand, if you discourage or get annoyed with those questions, you
ll stifle their Intellectual Curiosity, potentially forever.

ve found that good critical thinkers, while it
s not a prerequisite, often have a fair amount of Intellectual Curiosity.

Of course, no one has the time to get all the answers to everything. 

Those who have a great deal of Intellectual Curiosity are often frustrated by this notion.  It
s difficult for them to settle on not knowing.   They might spend an inordinate amount of time chasing an explanation at the expense of getting something done.

In my early career I worked a few years at IBM.  At age 25 I encountered an astonishing fact.   IBM produced more documentation about their systems than I could possibly read, even if I read 24 hours a day.  In my specific chosen profession at the time, I realized that I could not know everything about it.   This was a depressing moment.

The reaction to people who ask questions because of their Intellectual Curiosity is often

why do you want to know that
, or worse,
you don
t need to know that
.    People with Intellectual Curiosity just want to understand, and connect the dots, just to have completeness, to be satisfied with an understanding of how things work, why they are done a certain way, and what the cause and effect might be, and more.

The Takeaway:
In every business, identify those with a lot of Intellectual Curiosity as they will be your knowledge workers, often your strategic thinkers and who can seemingly pull ideas out of a magic hat.   If you’re one of these people, know that you’ll be frustrated sometimes with the difficulty in getting answers, not because people don’t want to provide them, but they either don’t know, or don’t see the relevance of that investigation … for them, it’s a waste of time.   Both parties and views are legitimate

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