There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it. - Mary Wilson

The curse of the renaissance man

Posted: August 31st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: | 4 Comments »

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Most people go through life taking advantage of the next opportunity.  You take a class or read a book or meet someone new and a few years later that’s what you do for a living.

Heck there are a few of us that a children said I want to work on cars, paint, be a rock star and then at least end up as mechanics, art teachers, or work in a guitar shop, but how many of us are really doing what we set out to do.  Did you dream of filing paperwork, dream of sitting at a desk, dream of answering email.

Why is this?

  • We don’t really stop and plan it out.
  • The cool jobs are usually hard to get.


Guess who gets to be a professional race card driver; the guy who grew up racing go-carts as a child, worked on cars all his life, happened to get really good at it, made the right contacts, and worked his ass off on only becoming a race car driver his entire life.

Who didn’t get to be a race car driver?  The guy who loves racing, played football in high school, works on restoring his [insert cool car of your choice] in the evenings, goes to the local track occasionally to race his [insert cool car of your choice] on the weekends, reads books on racing in his free time, and works a day job doing something other than racing.  Maybe this guy is extremely smart, works very hard, and even has a natural talent for racing, but he doesn’t get to be in the Indy 500.

The difference between these two people is focus.

Many of us smarter than average people have a curse.  Things come easy to us.  We learn quickly and therefore have competence in almost anything we do.  I can paint, play guitar, drums, saxaphone, build computers, change a tire, program in 5 languages, throw clay, cook, pick stocks, and play computer games all at an above average level.  I’m sure there are a hundred or a thousand other things that you or I can do fairly well right now or with very little instruction. 

But this is our curse, because with easy competence comes lack of motivation and lack of focus.

You could be a rock star, but I’m guessing your not.  [rock stars don't have time for internets]  If you play guitar the reason your not a rock star is simply because you also play basket ball, watch TV, follow Paris Hilton’s life, go to the mall on the weekends, get laid.  Yes even getting laid.  Rocks stars get laid now, but do you think the guy playing guitar for 6 hour per night had time to chaise girls or had the motivation to live in a van for 3 years if he wasn’t a total loser in high school?  Don’t believe me? Ask Henry Rollins.

Bill Gates, richest man in the world.  Would Microsoft exist if he didn’t spend every waking minute in the prime of his life playing with computers and eating pizza alone or with other nerds?

What does this mean for you and I.  Well, if your a total dolt, that’s great, your probably less easily distracted doing all the interesting things that come so easy to us geniuses.  If your moderately intelligent to a genius, you must begin systematically quiting the things that do not lead to getting what you want.

But the first step is deciding what you want…


4 Comments on “The curse of the renaissance man”

  1. 1 Lift Kettlebells said at 9:56 am on August 31st, 2008:

    Wow, do you have a listening device in my head? You just described me to a T. I’m a master of many things, and I could get excited about and excel at almost anything… at least for awhile.

    If you are in fact an information sponge, the good news is you can assimilate all that knowledge to creatively solve problems from seemingly unrelated fields. So, I live with a fair amount of distraction, because I’m happy to sit down and have a conversation about the details of corrosion coatings you can apply to screws… as well as the spiritual definition of Nirvana.

    So, I can see how I’d systematically begin quitting activities. But, how do I shut my brain off to all this rumination?

  2. 2 Neoseize said at 6:19 am on September 5th, 2008:

    Dear Allen

    My compliments to you and your memes sharing via your occassional unfubared.com blog entries.

    I discovered your like-minded thoughts blog via your comments at 4HWW’s blog.

    I acknowledge the elegant clarity and succint expression of practical, reality based ideas. Keep going.

    Neoseiza

  3. 3 AC said at 8:11 am on September 10th, 2008:

    Nice job with the written word. Consider me a fan.

  4. 4 Nija said at 8:53 pm on June 4th, 2014:

    But, alas- you can’t spell or you never bothered to learn proper grammar or how to write correctly. Looks more like a total lack of focus or pure laziness.


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