To achieve anything, you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster.
– Sir Stirling Moss
: to take part in an activity in a way that is not serious
You work hard at what you do. You take offense if anyone suggests that you are not committed to the job or to your goal or to the task at hand. You are a go-to person and either are or want to be a leader. This requires a clear vision and a straight-ahead path. I have even extolled the virtues of creating an addiction to success.
So why in the world have a I even mentioned “dabbling?”
Because there’s a delicate tension that you must always maintain. As much as I want you working hard at your specific goals, there are times when I also want you not working as hard at your specific goals. Let me explain . . .
Have you ever heard of cross-training in sports? When an athlete cross-trains, they still have a primary sport (or goal) and yet they teach themselves and cultivate skills in two or more different or additional sports. This cross-training improves overall performance in their primary sport (or goal). For example, a runner – while committed and addicted to that activity – might also dedicate time to cross-training in cycling, swimming, weight-training, and even yoga. While cross-training, our athlete – perhaps you – works new muscles, reduces the chance of injury, and ultimately obtains higher performance overall.
I don’t want there to be any mistake. I still want you to center all of your intention, attention, and action on what success means to you. However, I also want you to take that same intention, attention, and action, and go ahead and dabble. Get some variety in your life. Once you start dabbling in different areas and interests, you will quickly find that your creative thinking lights up more than ever before. Not only will your imagination be stimulated, you will discover that you gain a broader and more well-balanced perspective.
So, what types of things am I suggesting for you. Well, consider these dabblings:
1. An improvisational acting class
2. A course on creative (fiction) writing
3. Power yoga
4. Some instruction on learning to read a balance sheet
6. Weekend race car driving
7. A cooking class
8. Drawing, painting, or pottery
Now if these feel uncomfortable to you, that’s good! I want you to make a concerted effort to dabble – to make changes in your established way of doing things. I want you to commit to exploring new methods of getting what you want, new ways of thinking and being creative, and to a new style of being a true original. You can only do this by displacing your current comfort zone and putting yourself in situations that force you to stretch your current ways of thinking and being. The truly magical thing about dabbling is that once you start, it changes the way you think about . . . everything. Playing and splashing around in other activities and interests also creates new skill sets. You know what this means, don’t you? You get to play and, at the same time, immediately create new avenues of inspiration.
Dabbling also has another important benefit; namely, keeping you from experiencing burnout. Burnout happens when you have been doing something or seeking something for too long to the point where your energy is drained and your interest wanes (or goes away entirely). By dedicating yourself to dabbling in new things, you keep your interest level high, your curiosity peaked, and you have a built-in coping mechanism, if needed.
From personal experience, the really cool thing about dabbling is that it also paves the way for more crystal clear moments of sudden understanding and insight. These divine inspiration moments seem to increase in quantity and quality because dabbling also gives you more skill, tools, information, and confidence with which to work.
I want to add one more thing for you to consider . . . make sure your dabbling includes some sort of physical activity to the extent your physician will allow that. That type of activity will certainly boost your brain activity so that you are better able to put your all into your primary goal.
If all of this isn’t enough to convince you to take on dabbling with enthusiasm, you will recall that I have always encourage you to stay restless. I can guarantee that, as you dabble in new concepts and activities, you will not remain comfortable. You will be constantly stretching and learning and being a student all over again.
Business management write, Tom Peters, once said, “Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.” Tom Peters, by the way, has often been likened to a modern day da Vinci. That’s not a bad model for you to follow, too. Da Vinci was known as a painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, engineer, consultant, and scientist.
In the end, you must be wiling to dabble and do something you’ve never done before . . . just so you can be better at what you’ve done before.
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