I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and sometimes I wonder if I would be better served by just focusing on one thing, devoting my life to the pursuit of perfection of that one true passion, skill, or idea. Then I remember that I’m me, and if I’m not running in ten different directions at once, I get bored, unproductive, and restless, so a single pursuit would probably drive me mad.
I started thinking about all the great writers, inventors, composers, and innovators, and thinking that they were successful because they had a single pursuit in life. But, I think this is the wrong way to think about them, at least in the sense that “putting notes on a page” or “combining chemicals in a test tube” was their life’s work. Rather, their single pursuit was to explore all that their craft had to offer. You see composers invent new rules to write music, Edisons and Einsteins failing and failing and failing, until one day, they discover the invention of the century, or the equation that shapes modern math. These people weren’t about one small aspect of their skill set, they were about the depths of what their skills could produce.
It’s probably time for me to re-read the Medici Effect, as I’ve been hitting a mental wall lately. The book talks about allowing time to fail, and allowing people in organizations to make mistakes. Basically, just keep producing and learning from your failures until you produce something worthwhile. Everyone thinks there’s some kind of genius or magic to being great, but I think the most influential producers just took so many shots that they were bound to make one of them. I think sometimes I’m so worried about meticulously crafting the most strategic approach to a successful life, that I forget to be prolific. I forget to take time to expand my skills, I don’t allow time to fail for the purpose of learning, and I don’t open my mind to the possibilities and creativity that the world offers. I feel like I’m being prolific by constantly being busy, but production and busyness aren’t the same thing. Sometimes you have to be still in your body and your schedule to let your mind be busy.
So, here’s to being prolific with a purpose. Here’s to intentional stillness and thought, not just busyness to pretend like you’ve accomplished something that day. And, here’s to breaking through the wall!