I have been on a huge research kick for the last 12 months. I was fortunate enough to have a long maternity leave period which gave me lots of quality time with my baby daughter but also created the space where I could pursue my own interests. At first, I didn’t know what they were. I started listening to podcasts during late-night feeds because they didn’t require any light. This led to some book recommendations which led to more books.
One of the first was Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist and it really set me free.
There’s a concept Austin introduces called the Influence Tree. It goes like this:
You pick one thinker – writer, artist, activist, role model – you really love and study them. They will likely reference others in their work. Pick a few of these others and study them too. Repeat this process as you climb your tree. When you’re ready, it’s time to start your own branch.
At first I started doing this because it seemed like a fun, creative way to track what I was getting into. I was surprised by the results:
- I felt inspired to keep adding to it
- The connections brought out new ideas
- My mind is able to absorb the overview easily
- There was a clear pattern of interests and curiosities
- I had hubs where most of my recommendations came from
- The influences are greater than the sum of their parts
- The combination of my unique influences give me a unique perspective
The results listed above have been the foundation of this blog and the articles within. I have been able to stand on their wisdom and create my own branch.
The positive reception to the blog has given me confidence to start putting together courses. I am more familiar with my offering because the themes reflect the major branches – my major interests: brain science, learning, emotional intelligence, service driven productivity and entrepreneurship.
Give the Influence Tree a go. Pick a thinker, writer, artist or role model to begin with and start climbing. If you’re comfortable, post a picture of your influence tree in the comments and let me know the unexpected surprises you get from this process.