We pressure ourselves and our young ones to choose one area of expertise and excel in it. Pressure to specialize may prevent us from becoming all that we can be.
“‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’…While this question inspires kids to dream about what they could be, it does not inspire them to dream about all that they could be.”
There are people today, like those of from the Renaissance period, called “Multipotentialites,” people who have a diverse array of interests rather than one true vocation. These type of people passionately pursue one skill until they achieve a level of competence then get bored and pursue another interest.
“During the Renaissance period, it was considered the ideal to be well-versed in multiple disciplines.”
Multipotentiality people share three positive characteristics:
#1 They combine knowledge from unrelated spheres. Innovation flourishes at the crossroads of disparate ideas.
“Multipotentialites…are used to being beginners, because we’ve been beginners so many times in the past, and this means that we’re less afraid of trying new things and stepping out of our comfort zones.”
#2 They grasp ideas and learn skills rapidly because they have mastered so many varied interests, and they bring skills they’ve acquired in one pursuit to the next.
“It is rarely a waste of time to pursue something you’re drawn to, even if you end up quitting.”
#3 They are highly adaptable, a trait that Fast Company magazine identified as the most crucial for business success in the 21st century.
TED Conferences LLC
Founder & Creative Director of Puttylike, a Website for MultiPotentialites.
Emilie Wapnick has been a musician/songwriter, a web designer, filmmaker, writer, law student and entrepreneur. "This is how I’ve always lived," she writes, "moving from interest to interest, building on my skills in different areas, and synthesizing the knowledge I acquire along the way."
As a career and life coach, she helps other people with wide and varied interests understand and appreciate who they are, in a society that asks us to pick a lane and stay in it. Her work with "multipotentialites" has resulted in the book Renaissance Business and the interesting website Puttylike.