Academe is full of potential geniuses who have never done a single thing they wanted to do because there were too many things that needed to be done first: the research projects, conference papers, books and articles — not one of them freely chosen: merely means to some practical end, a career rather than a calling. And so we complete research projects that no longer interest us and write books that no one will read; or we teach with indifference, dutifully boring our students, marking our time until retirement, and slowly forgetting why we entered the profession: because something excited us so much that we subordinated every other obligation to follow it.
If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of Leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted — the things we truly want to do. Procrastination is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure, in that joyful state of self-forgetful inspiration that we call genius.
From last year:
Is possibly noteworthy possibly a bot?
I always assumed he was a grad student.
Either the most prolific grad student ever, or possibly the single greatest purveyor of procrastination known to man.
We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries.
Distraction is not a static obstacle that you avoid like you might avoid a rock in the road. Distraction seeks you out.
I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time.
Recently, from TED:
Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.
Finally, Richard Hamming:
If you do not work on an important problem, it's unlikely you'll do important work.
How to Procrastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci