If your job is to help humankind explore a new planet, you're probably intelligent and hardworking. And according to Adam Steltzner, who was a lead NASA engineer for the Mars Exploration Curiosity Rover mission, you probably benefit from being a bit ignorant, too.
It may be counterintuitive, but a healthy dose of ignorance is crucial when trying to come up with disruptive ideas, the rocket scientist tells Todd Henry on the podcast "The Accidental Creative."
Here's why: Experienced professionals "can get stuck in the rut of the past, or the way it worked before," Steltzner says. "However, if you're at the edge of your field, how it's been done before may be a poor indicator of how it should be done in the future."
In other words, being less aware of the status quo or how things "should" be done sets successful people apart from the rest.
Steltzner currently serves as chief engineer of the Mars 2020 Project, the long-term effort to explore the "Red Planet" using robots. And he plans on using this mindset to continue achieving scientific feats.