This is sort of a funny talking topic for highly creative people, because highly creative people are good at a lot of things. That’s one of the characteristics of the highly creative person is we’ve got a lot of interests.
We have a lot of talents and skills. We are easily bored. We’re very adept and we’re used to picking things up very quickly, which means that we often end up with a really “patchwork quilt” resume. A lot of half-finished projects, and sort of that feeling of “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
I just want to underline again: having brilliant ideas all the time, being good at a lot of things, is not a character defect. And it’s something that people who aren’t highly creative people have trouble understanding, because they’re not good at a lot of things. So, it’s confusing to them. It’s like, well just pick something. And you’re like, well, I can’t pick something. I love all the things.
So I want to suggest a couple of things.
1. Be good at a lot of things.
One of the ways to be good at anything is to be good at a lot of things, because when you are doing a lot of things, you are continuing to engage your brain in new ways. You’re wearing down new neural pathways between you and new information. You’ve experienced yourself in a new way.
2. Look for transferable skills.
When you are good at a lot of things, you’re good because of probably three or four drivers within your intellect and personality. So, look at the way in which you are good at things. For example, what is it that engages you? What is it that moves you forward? What is it that allows you to learn and pick things up quickly?
Is it your sensitivity? Is it your curiosity? Is it your drive? Is it your passion? Is it your taste buds? The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. So, the way I go about organizing my sock drawer is exactly the same way I go about running my six or seven figure business. Same with you, the way in which you go about cleaning the kitchen is very much the way in which you go about making a painting. And if it’s not, take a look at that because you could probably make one or the other a lot happier and more flowy for you.
This is the other answer for those of you who have a real patchwork-quilt resume and feel like, Oh, I’m not really good at anything. I’m kind of unemployable. I got it- I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’ve had over a hundred jobs. I delivered flowers. I was a barista, an executive assistant, I produced radio dramas, I was a whitewater river guide. I was this children’s birthday clown. Like you name it? I did it. I did all the things and, what I didn’t know was that I was preparing myself to do this job. I was amassing a lot of skills and talents and insights into different worlds that prepared me to have this job. And again, the things that made me good at one thing made me good at all the things.
So, look for the umbrella. Stop telling yourself, Oh, none of this goes together. Oh, I’m a mess. Oh, I’m Jack of all trades master of none. Not true. You have been mastering whatever that umbrella skill is. And when you start telling people that umbrella skill, they will totally respect you.
3. Continue to cultivate and lean into that beginner’s mind.
We know a beginner’s mind is when you don’t even know what you don’t know. Somebody says, pick this up and move it over here. You’d go, Okay. I’ll pick it up and move it over. Somebody says, do this this way. You say sure. You don’t have the voice that says, I’ve always learned to do it this way, or I think I’ll have a better experience if I do it my way. No, with a beginner’s mind you say sure. I will. We do that until we have enough experience to be able to make our own decisions.
Maintaining that beginner’s mind really is about cultivating an ego-less state. Where we don’t think we know best, and we don’t have advice or suggestions or criticisms, we’re just doing it the way we were told to do it. I always feel like I never did any one thing enough to really get good at it or really understand it.
4. Learn to tolerate being bad at things.
This is one of the tricky parts for highly creative people, because you’re so good at so many things. And you are used to picking things up really quickly and being good at things right away.
You don’t develop much in the way of patience and tolerance for your own shortcomings. There’s the moment you fall in love with your art, your craft, your whatever. And there’s this really great time at the beginning when you’re super enthusiastic, when you have beginner’s mind. And then there’s this really long middle part where you have the discernment to know what is good and how you want it to be, but you do not have the talents and skills to execute it.
The slog, that’s the part that separates the women from the girls, the men from the boys, the artists from the non-artists.
You have to be able to tolerate being bad at something until you are good at it.
You have to put in the hours. You are being called forward to mature past the idea of perfectionism. You were being called forward to mature past the idea that it matters whether or not you fail. You were being called forward to mature past the point of fear into the point of exploration. That’s what you’ve been called for.
So, how to be good at anything? Do a lot of things. Look for the transferable skills, maintain beginner’s mind and relate to beginner’s mind, and learn to tolerate being bad at things. Notice your multiplicity of gifts. You, too, are a surprise box. You have so many talents and skills, and you are such a gift to the world. Think about how you can share your gifts with the world today.