The European Training Network for InduStry Digital Transformation across Innovation Ecosystems
On March 9th, 2023, I attended a masterclass on “Purposeful Curiosity”, hosted by the ESADE business school in Barcelona and held by Professor Constantine Andropoulos. The theme of the event was curiosity and how best to manage this resource.
In our daily lives, we are continuously overwhelmed by a huge load of data through social media, texts, e-mail, and streaming services that distract us from focusing on deeper understanding and knowledge. Nonetheless, when we take the time to refine our interests and skills, curiosity – if harnessed purposefully – can take us to unexpected places and provide us with new paths to fulfillment and success.
Professor Constantine Andropolous collected interview data from hyper-curious people – including Formula One engineers, scientists working to grow food on Mars, polar explorers, athletes, and star chefs, ending up being able to explain how the most capable people overcome the ‘noise’ of information overload and use the productive power of curiosity to discover, create and succeed.
During the meeting, the professor introduced the concept of “frivolous curiosity”, distinguishing it from the idea of purposeful curiosity aimed at exploring specific topics. According to existing literature, curiosity helps us survive, leads to higher achievement (Von Stumm et al., 2011), makes us happier (Kashdan et al., 2010), can expand our empathy (Gino, 2018), makes us come across warmer and more attractive (Kashdan and Roberts, 2005) and is associated with longevity (Swan and Carmelli, 1996).
A Q&A session then took place during the meeting, from which much food for thought emerged on how to invest our time in something that really interests us and how best to focus our attention on targeted interests that can really help us expand our knowledge and perspectives. This is particularly relevant in the research and PhD pathway, where we may encounter different inputs and stimuli. The challenge lies in identifying the topics that most interest us and then exploring them properly, hence purposeful curiosity can be a valuable support.
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