How Varied Interests Super Charge Innovation.

How you super charge innovation…

Though focus is vitally important to creating anything (be it a business or work of art), there is no rule that says you must focus on only one thing—instead you must focus on only one thing at a time.

There is a large body of both research, and common sense, that draws connections between having various interests and a heightened ability to innovate. Sometimes this concept is called “the cross pollination of ideas“, I personally call it my-attention-span-is-about-90-minutes-so-I-have-to-switch-it-up-alot-ism.

I’ve written in the past that the more we work, the less productive we are, which is backed up by the science of the ultradian rhythm. Since adjusting my own schedule to not “force” myself to work more than 90 minutes straight, and to take breaks in between these work sprints, my productivity, creativity and general well being has gone waaay up.

ultradian rhythm - super charge innovation

In addition I now encourage myself to have multiple interests going on at once, so in a given day I may work on 2 to 3 various projects, switching back and forth between 90 minute blocks. The crazy part is these varied interests actually inspire innovation among each other far more than would happen if I was focused on one thing alone.

To help myself keep organized and quantify my varied interest month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter, I like to keep a drawing (like so) in my notebook and update it regularly.

super charge innovation
Venn diagram of interests

Currently there are three things I’m deeply passionate about and focusing the majority of my time on:

  1. Empowering entrepreneurs. This has always been a theme for me, from when I first started this blog to today. I learned a painful lesson with Zirtual that it’s far better to teach a man to fish, than to hire him as an employee of your fishery. I used to want to create lots of jobs, now I want to empower LOTS of entrepreneurs. Part of that mission is fulfilled by writing here, posting on Linkedin and documenting mine and other entrepreneur’s journeys through social media.
  2. Demystifying death/disrupting death care. Since November of last year this has become a big part of my life and a massive interest of mine. I’m working on educating people about how to face their own mortality, and use it as a catalyst to life a fuller life through The Memento Mori Society. At the same time, my mother and I are building a a business around helping people plan funerals at ZenFunerals.com.
  3. The metaphysical. This covers everything from meditation, to studying Eastern philosophy and religious traditions, to wondering if there is life on other planets—or in other dimensions. I know my definition of metaphysical isn’t proper—but it’s a carry all for diverse interests in things many people crinkle their nose at when you bring it up over dinner.

These three interests are relatively varied, but if I start my day with entrepreneurship (like writing this blog post) I will undoubtedly think of something along the way that will effect my spiritual practice later on, or will pique a question about something end-of-life.

Further watching (This Ted talk rocked my socks):

Try it out and let me know how it goes!