Most supposed productivity gurus say “do one thing.” Focus on just one thing and you’ll excel. I’ve certainly written about this before. Among some people “do one thing” is practically a religion. While focusing on one thing is great and can help you make leaps and bounds in productivity and getting things done, it can dramatically stunt your creativity. And if you don’t care about creativity, fine. But it can also make you stupid.
That’s because often the most creative ideas come from the most unexpected sources. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas in for articles on this blog, from reading books completely unrelated to personal development. Some of the best ideas I’ve had for posts have been through reading books on travel, writing and personal biographies.
Creative ADD, and my thirst to pursue writing, music, drawing, graphic design and photography has led me to have a better and more holistic eye in all areas of art. Designing has helped me realize how to use pictures to have a better impact in blog posts. Studying lyrics and the structure of songs has helped me become better at understanding the flow of writing stories. Drawing helped me realize the patience and attention to detail necessary when crafting a melodic rhythm. All these different creative endeavors has led me not to be spread more thin between them, but has enhanced my ability throughout all of them.
Now, I’m not saying more is always better. There is a certain limit reached when chasing too many ambitions will lead you to accomplishing next to nothing at all. You have to devote a certain amount of time to becoming proficient at each.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “jack of all trades, master of none.” While this is true to an extent, there is also much to be gained from delving into many different aspirations. I’m not saying that knowledge you learned from say, cliff hanging, will give you lessons on how to be a better father. But you’ll have a much more diverse pool of experience to draw from. If all work and no play makes jack a dull boy, all working on one thing makes him even duller.
Another benefit to creative ADD is that by pursuing many different things, you dramatically increase your chances of finding your true love. If you don’t take the chance to explore and experiment with many different things, you likely will never know where your life’s purpose lies. I receive a lot of email from people asking them about how to find their life purpose. I tell them to follow their heart and try a lot of different things. They usually come back with the response “I don’t want to invest time into something and find out that I don’t like it after all.” This seems like it makes sense but it’s so counter to the truth. If you don’t take the risk of trekking down the many avenues of your heart’s desires, you’ll have no compass to orient yourself with.
So maybe you don’t want to have long-term add. Maybe you don’t want to mess around, “wasting time” trying to find your passion and you expect it to come in an illuminated golden dreamlike scene where God appears out of the sky and writes it in the clouds for you. Good luck with that.
If you’re like me, this is something you’ve struggled with: to focus on one thing or to explore many different options. I thought I had to choose. I didn’t want to waste all that time right? What I discovered is sometimes the answer isn’t either or. You can have the best of both, and avoid the extremes of each spectrum.
What I’ve started doing with multiple interests is choosing a major and minor sub-focuses. If I’m really interested in writing, drawing, playing drums and copywriting, I’ll have to figure out what my biggest priority is. If it’s writing, I’ll spend the majority of my time doing that, say 70%. The rest of my time is split up between the other areas of interest.
Try to find out if you’re holding yourself back by single focusing too much. Is your obsession with minimizing risk forcing you to settle for a job you only kind of like? What else might be out there? The more things you try, the more chances you have to discover your fullest potential. Of course, there’s a point of diminishing returns. I’m not recommending that you try everything on this list. But it might not hurt to diversify your intelligence. It certainly didn’t hurt Da Vinci.