Here are a couple of quotes that are important to me when I think about knowledge work, and pretty much everything else to do with life. I like the fact that randomness and passion have such a strong impact on what we do.
“Chaos is very important to me. I keep my office very messy because it creates interesting random thoughts. Often I have to look for a paper and on my search to find it I will find other things that trigger off new thoughts that I probably wouldn’t have had if I had found the paper straight away. Often in problem-solving you have to think outside the box, go sideways, and I think the chaotic mess in which I work often facilitates this. I also find yellow paper useful. I love working on yellow legal pads with black ink; it’s really good for thinking” (Professor Marcus du Sautoy, mathematician).
The quote is from an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald today (syndicated from the Sunday Telegraph in London) in which some of the brightest minds in the UK are asked to talk about everyday things. The bright minds belong to Professor Marcus du Sautoy, Professor Nathan Seiberg (particle physicist), Henry Marsh (brain surgeon), Daniel Jubb (rocket scientist), Michael Beloff (QC), and Nigel Short (Chess Grandmaster).
And finally, what about passion? This from Nathan Seiberg (particle physicist): “If you love something you become obsessed with it and then you eventually solve the problem. I discovered a passion for science at a very early age. I always enjoyed solving puzzles: logic puzzles; maths puzzles; jigsaw puzzles. I was obsessed. The passion is no guarantee of success, but without the passion it won’t work, that’s for sure.”