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Andreas Kluth

The Secret to Creative Breakthroughs, Hot Streaks and Success

New research suggests it's good, even better, to start shallow before going deep. That's useful advice no matter where you are in your career.

Contemplating Jackson Pollock’s hot streak. 

Contemplating Jackson Pollock’s hot streak. 

Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep.” This advice comes from the ancient Yoga Sutras as interpreted by Swami Satchidananda, an Indian guru who died in 2002. 

The trouble is, the insight is only half-true, and therefore in need of an update. Whether you’re heading for college, starting out in your career, stuck in a mid-life crisis or entering retirement, you shouldn’t ignore Satchidananda’s exhortation — but you should add this nuance. First spend some time flitting around and, yes, staying shallow. Then, and only then, go for the deep dive.