June 14, 2022

Ignore the conventional wisdom about picking a lane and staying there


Are you an inter disciplinarian?

Someone who creates something by thinking across traditional boundaries?

This is an underrated skill that gives you a significant advantage in your work. Those who learn how to use their curiosity and creativity and love of learning to synthesize many discipline, these are the people who innovate.

Because there are so many complex subjects that can only be understood by combining the perspectives of multiple fields. Only when you pool approaches into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts are you suited to solve the problem at hand.

Ray Charles pioneered soul music during the fifties by combining blues, jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel styles. He was the original mashup artist who combined multiple frames of reference in his art.

Ray was a true inter disciplinarian. His musical convergence created a unique inimitable style and also left behind an artistic legacy without which the history books could have been written.

The good news is, this approach to work is transferable. Each of us can become inter disciplinarians in our own unique way.

Imagine the therapist who defies the industry standard path of choosing one approach to therapy and following it with devotion. She could combine her talents around psychology, meditation, biology and yoga to build an interdisciplinary practice that transforms people’s lives.

Or imagine the management consultant who ignores the conventional wisdom about picking a lane and staying there. He could integrate and blend his expertise around ontology, spirituality and nonprofit leadership to create value for clients in a way nobody has ever seen before.

The whole point here is playing best to your relative strengths. Combining your curiosities across boundaries to create unique value that has commercial potential.

After all, any individual discipline has significant limitations when used alone. Only when you integrate and blend these fields, rather than eliminate or compartmentalize them, can you innovate.

When I was developing the discipline of personal creativity management, one of the epiphanies I had was that the more tools you have to work on a problem, the less likely you are to get stuck. This is why I built over three hundred tools into my system.

Each one may not be transformative in isolation, but it’s the magnitude of integrating all of them that gives you an unprecedented source of leverage. There is an infinite number sequences and combinations of those tools. Now you can stack them to give yourself more leverage.

What’s more, layering new value on top of your existing creative tools to make them more enjoyable, rewarding and sustainable.

How could you fulfill a strong customer need with interdisciplinary expertise that your competitors don’t have? Might that help you provide something for the market that it doesn’t know how to get yet, but will want?

Start your inter disciplinary practice today. Take your curiosity and love of learning to invent a new approach nobody’s ever seen before.

There’s no guarantee it will change the world, but it will give you a sense of fulfillment that’s very hard to get from a single path.

When was the last time you combined the perspectives of multiple fields?