Growth and Happiness

Some months ago, I published this essay, in which I advocated spending some time, even a tiny amount, on each of your desired endeavors daily.

In that essay, I stated that daily micro-steps, punctuated regularly with larger steps, truly do result in a large difference over time when compared with the alternative of making massive but sporadic efforts.

What I didn’t say is that the person who spends the majority of each day along an endeavor will far surpass these two groups (daily microsteps or massive sporadic efforts).  This is obvious, of course.  As Robert Twigger states in this excellent article, the “monopath,” the super-specialist, is the role model of choice in the Western world.

The more you fragment your time and energy by investing in more activities, the lower your rate of achievement in any particular activity. The Jack of all trades is truly the master of none, at least in the short-term.

In other words, the more different types of work you do, the less prolific you can be in any of them, lowering your overall chances of success in any particular field (unless, say, you connect two or more fields and pursue that single connection heavily).

Which type of person should you be?  Should you strive for massive accomplishment along a single dimension while remaining ignorant of many others, or should you be more of a generalist whose skillset and knowledge span many domains without particular mastery of any?

This question brings us to another: what makes you happy or fulfilled?  Do you think you know, or do you actually know?  Was it programmed into you by your parents or by society, or did you discover it for yourself?

If you reach your potential along a single dimension (say, attainment of wealth, or attainment of great skill as an oil painter, etc.), it will be at the expense of reaching your potential along many others.  Also, in any field, there are many others who are spending every waking minute striving for monopathic success.  You will never be able to compete with them without a lot of sacrifice.

Here’s an excellent essay on achieving your potential by a beloved writer whose books and articles I read in my late teens and early twenties.


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