If you want to innovate on the same level as Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, or IDEO CEO Tim Brown, pursue many varying interests at the same time.
Pursuing a number of diverse interests is an effective way to gain insights, stumble on atypical solutions to problems, and stay creative.
Elon Musk is a prime modern-day example of this point. Musk works not only in the realm of digital money exchange (he co-founded PayPal), he’s also heavily involved in rocket science and space travel (SpaceX), electric motors and energy storage (Tesla), and the future of high-speed travel (Hyperloop).
If you look at the histories of the greatest innovators, a similar pattern makes itself clear. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, didn’t just paint the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, he also built conceptual machines for flight and war, worked with solar energy, and conceptualized a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics.
Having diverse pursuits helps propel innovation in three primary ways: it promotes proactive procrastination, encourages cross-pollination of specialties, and keeps a “beginner’s mind.”
Get the full details on how having many different interests can improve your creativity in my full write-up on Inc.com.