It is much too easy to burrow into your business and go deeper into the knowledge, building more depth and expertise in that area so you can be an even better resource for your customers. But doesn’t this turn you into a “one-trick pony”? For example, in my social media consulting business, does it truly broaden my mind and stretch my intellect to become more facile in the inner workings of Facebook and Content Marketing…or is it kind of “more of the same”?
I have other interests. You do, too. How do I indulge them, push the boundaries of my interests, and maybe even develop new ones? I need to consciously expose myself to knowledge I probably wouldn’t otherwise, and I have to set aside the time to do it. This is a challenge as an entrepreneur, but to not do it means that I’m less likely to keep growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. There is also a much higher probability that, in exploring some of these new landscapes, I might come across a couple of new ideas that inform and impact my business in ways I have no way of anticipating now.
So, where do I start?
Well, I going a few different ways, based on some previous, long-standing passions, and a suggestion from a mentor.
I have loved history of many kinds since grade school. This has progressed WAY past names and dates. I dig into the history of ideas and culture, in-depth histories like those written by Barbara Tuchman, Edward Robb Ellis and Daniel Boorstin, and biographies of Dean Acheson, Gustav Mahler and St. Francis. No study of history tells the whole story, but I feel that reading different takes, overviews, granular accounts, life stories and thematic frameworks gives me a awe-filled view of who we are are humans and a feel for where we can go and what we can do.
I have lived as a “liberal arts” kind of guy with an appreciation of science and the process of discovery that answers a question while uncovering 37 more questions! I was enamored of the space program growing up (as were most of my friends…) and, although becoming an astronaut was “crazy talk”, delving into some of the cool science was well within reach. I became a space nut, and, although science was never my strong suit, I loved reading about the more arcane bits of it…..and landed in the world of quantum science. I am never going to get the math, but I decided that I didn’t need to in order to appreciate the wonderful weirdness of it all. The authors I have read include Richard Feynman, Brian Greene and John Gribbin. I don’t pretend to be a scholar in these areas, but I enjoy the craziness of it. I subscribe to Scientific American magazine and always eagerly consume any article in those quantum areas every month. I also appreciate the level of writing in that magazine for my other areas of interest in science like psychology, ecology and anything about dinosaurs…
Almost fifteen years ago my mentor suggested I cultivate a new creative outlet. As a composer and musician, I tend to default to those, so I cast about looking for something unique. I landed upon creating [mostly] earrings with glass beads, wire and hooks. It is something that uses an slightly different set of design skills than I used before. In the intervening years all my female relatives have experienced a sporadic stream of earrings, with the occasional bracelet, for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I have been deeply gratified that they not only express joy upon getting them, but actually wear them out where people can see them AND when I’m not around! I only sit down to make them two or three times a year, but I have a great time when I do and get a blast of happiness when I get to see their faces upon opening the little boxes and trying them on.
Each of these pursuits makes me a more well-rounded person, exercises my brain and creative juices in ways that my passion for my areas of business really cannot, and brings unexpected and valuable alterations to my thought frameworks with the potential to create new things and even deliver unforeseen value to my customers.
But mostly, it’s just really fun!
What do you intellectually and creatively cultivate in yourself, away from the passions of work? Please share in the comments!