Something happens when you work on challenges of your own choosing. Your mind becomes magnetized. It starts to attract little bits of information that can help you solve your problem or complete your project. While a magnetized mind can occur with any kind of challenge, the effect is strongest when the challenge rises from your own passion or your own sense of purpose.

Rule27
When you do your own projects, you give full play to four capabilities: 1) An abiding passion for discovery and innovation, 2) an ability to shape a large body of knowledge into a coherent system, 3) the skill to translate this system of knowledge into action, and 4) a capacity for deep concentration over an extended period of time.

These are the traits of a genius. Everyone experiences some success in these areas during his or her life. What the genius does is to turn these traits into lifelong habits, which are then expressed as talent. Talent isn’t something we have—it’s something we do. We develop our skills in the course of working on the kinds of projects, problems, and challenges that address our deepest interests.

While you can’t always bend your workplace to your will, you can look for small opportunities on the outside, or after hours, to practice your craft. These experiences, far more than the daily grind of given assignments, will help you reach your creative potential.

Next week: Keep a hero file.
Appreciate greatness with felonious intent

The Rules of Genius is now a book with a bonus section called “How can I matter?” that includes 10 essential rules.  Buy here.