The Leonardo Trait – Subtrait Four: Inability to Happily Focus on One Thing at a Time [Book Excerpt]

Sub-Trait Four: Inability to Happily Focus On One Thing at a Time

Leonardos are Completely Unable to Happily Focus on One Thing at a TimeThis is an excerpt from The Leonardo Trait: How Creative People Can Turn Creative Eccentricity into a Life You Love.

There is a large difference between being unwilling to focus on one thing at a time and being unable to do so happily. In this chapter we’ll explore this concept, which forms the core of Sub-Trait Four, and look at the possibilities inherent in being able to do more than one thing at once.

Leonardos don’t focus well. Let me rephrase that. We focus great. We just don’t focus for as long, or on as few things, as many Straight-Liners. In fact, the original title of this sub-trait was “An Absolute Inability To Happily Focus On Only One Thing At a Time,” then I shortened it to “Inability to Focus on One Thing at a Time” so it would all fit on one line. It didn’t, though, so for this edition I changed it back. That’s one of the great things about being a Leonardo—I know I can change my mind.

There really is a difference between inability and unwillingness to focus. We’re willing, most of the time; we’re just not good at it. It’s not that we can’t do one thing, it’s that we can’t happily do only one thing, and we place a great deal of emphasis on happiness in our lives.

Sometimes we do let things get out of hand, but many Leonardos can carry on several projects at once, and always accomplish what they most want to accomplish. It’s like the person who points to the piles of papers on his desk and declares, “But I know where everything is!” He probably does. And so do Leonardos. We know what we’re doing. We just aren’t sure when we’re going to finish it.

Straight-Liners get exhausted just looking at our desks. But the fact is, we’re happy and fulfilled when we’ve got too many projects to count.

This all brings up the idea of multitasking. I recently heard about a study that showed that people who multitask really are not as efficient as people who do one task. I was curious enough about that to check out the book The Myth of Multitasking.

And I have to say, I’ve realized I was wrong about multitasking. I wasn’t wrong about what I do and am capable of, but I was wrong about calling it multitasking. What I actually do is switch tasks often, moving from one thing to another and back, often in a very focused and controlled way, but not doing two things literally at once.

And this kind of multitasking (I like the term better) is what I’m referring to. But not just at work. I’m talking about multitasking at life. Being a writer and a mom and a wife and a business owner. Being a dad and a musician and an advertising person.

What if you could have a serial career, be a serial entrepreneur, even be, in every sense of the word, a jack or jill of all trades, doing multiple things at once? Does that appeal to you? If not, that’s okay, we’re not all alike.

But if you’ve just started trying to figure out how you can be a nurse and an Olympic figure skater at the same time, and you’re 59 years old and have bad knees, you are in exactly the right place, reading exactly the right book, and I hope for exactly the right reasons.

So what if you could do everything you wanted, even if not all at the same time? What if you didn’t have to settle on “one thing”?

Oh, yeah, your grandmother would spin in her grave.

But what if?

Subtrait One | Subtrait Two | Subtrait Three | Subtrait Four | Subtrait Five

Bokeh photo courtesy of DarrenHester. Image created by Angie Dixon.