One of my takeaways from reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Elon Musk was that Elon was singular in how much he cared about his products. He was obsessed, in a way that was unrivaled by anyone else on the teams at SpaceX and Tesla. This obsession became an unhealthy fanaticism and brand of micromanagement that could burn the people around him, but it also seems like it was the source of his genius. He gave a damn more than anyone else, and that deep care spurred him to challenge fundamental assumptions and solve problems others thought were impossible.
Elon is a complicated figure, but throughout the year, I kept coming back to the idea that where there is deep care, there is profound intelligence. We can choose to think of intelligence as something that is inborn and fixed, or even as something that is constant across topic and time, but I wonder if it’s valuable to reimagine our intelligence as something that is interwoven with our care and attention, a byproduct of our curiosity. We can summon our own latent genius when we focus on where we care the most.