Are you passionate about your talents? And do you specialize or do-it-all? Well, if you specialize, then you should also explore widely; if you do-it-all, then find common ground. Either way, you up your expertise?and you find focus.
But what if you have no talent? Then read books. Read until you discover your passions. Once you find your passions, weave them into every new experience, insight, feeling, or event. I guarantee, do this and you’ll fast-track to peak performance.
I once saw a math student draw complex geometric shapes on the board. And his professor had geometric shapes hung from his office ceiling. They dreamed 24-gons?polygons with angles summing to 3960 degrees. They obsessed over shapes. But philosophy says perfect triangles don’t exist in nature. And design turns perfect triangles into dinosaurs. And guitar builders glue slightly asymmetrical interior patterns for better sound.
With that in mind, the meaning behind shapes shift. So, to shift specialties into breakthroughs, explore beyond your scope. Judith Weston, author of The Film Director’s Intuition inspires with acting tips (in bold below). I add my take in what follows.
Think out loud in front of others. Before you read out loud first drafts, think out loud. Spill your thoughts to an audience. If no-one lends an ear, record yourself on a smartphone. Buy a smart-phone lavalier microphone, clip the mic to your lapel, and chat away.
Expand your worldview—read lots. Zeroing in on specialties has upsides. But, tunnel vision drops to dead-ends. For example, well-read copywriters get edgy. Their inspirations come from philosophy, mythology, feminism?you name it. Look at the success of Dove’s feminism. So, read.
See the film industry as a means to master the craft?not to make millions. Similarly, view your education as the path to mastery, not money. Enjoy the learning journey more than the payoff. But do map your education to a doable career.
Script analysis will pop ideas in your head. Try them out. Learn by trial and error—not memorization. View each article you read as ideas to thread together. Then try on that loin cloth. Is it snug? Loose? Comfy but not stylish? Keep weaving ideas until the fit is fab.
You learn the most from the scariest tasks. So, tackle what tickles but torments you. Do you delight yet terrorize over tearing apart a motor and inventing gadgets from its parts? And your husband doesn’t understand your fetish? Then do it! You’ll learn lots.
Figure out why an idea puzzles you. Pretend you are the idea’s author; add your personality into the puzzle. Let’s say you don’t understand how a philosopher could view the brain and consciousness as two separate interrelated entities. Do a thought experiment: pretend you are a neurosurgeon. Imagine you revive a clinically brain-dead patient. What if, newly awakened, your patient bursts into chatter about “another realm” of “infinite love” from a “higher being”? How would you respond? Where do you stand on the topic of consciousness? Add your personality to the puzzle.
Narrow your focus onto one obsession?or a few. Discover your passions by reading widely. Recently, I read about the philosophy of mind?a new topic?and I felt enamored. But narrow your obsessions—specialize.
But it seems I contradict myself. Yes, earlier I said to explore many different topics. Continue to do so, but with your obsession central to your synthesis.
don’t reject your ideas. Test them. Make them simpler. don’t spend your life in a fog. When a trivial thought occurs to you, don’t dismiss it; dwell on it. Trivial thoughts?the kind you rarely explore?can lead to breakthroughs.
Questioning leads to confidence. So, don’t ignore hunches; simplify them. Synthesize them. And, hopefully, you come to a positive conclusion. A paradox? I call it a creative spark!