The notion of following one life path is romanticised in our culture. We like to believe that we each have one great thing to achieve during our lives. We rush to find our thing or niche, so that we can dedicate our lives to becoming the best at it. We are asked throughout our childhood what we want to be when we grow up. What one career path will we devote our life to?
But what if you’re not a person who works this way. What if you have eclectic taste’s and you can’t put your interests into one box? Does this mean you have no purpose? Is there something wrong with you? The answer is no, argues Emilie Wapnick “What you are is a multipotentialite.” Multi-potential-ite is a term coined by Wapnick to denote individuals with many interests and creative pursuits. Another term that connotes the same idea is the "Renaissance person" – as during the Renaissance period it was considered ideal to be well-versed in multiple disciplines however somewhere along the way this notion was forgotten...
Wapnick set up her online community puttylike.com to encourage others to embrace their varied career interests. “It’s easy for people to see their multipotentialite traits as a limitation or an affliction that needs to be overcome” explains Wapnick, however this notion is outdated and arguably ignores the valuable multipotenialite contribution to society. Steve jobs defined creativity as “connecting things.” He said however that creativity in today's society is limited. Most people don’t have enough dots to connect because they lack diverse experiences due to societies obsession with becoming specialists. In other words, without the multipotentialite drawing across their wide range of experience to create new ideas - we are left without innovators.
Wapnick in her compelling Ted Talk further explores the value of the multipotentialite and defines the "3 superpowers of the mulitopotentalite".
Superpower number 1: Idea Synthesis
As identified by Steve Jobbs, innovation happens when two or more fields collide and multipotentialites, with their versatile backgrounds have access to these crucial points of intersection.
Superpower number 2: Rapid learning.
When multipotenialites become interested in something they embark on a voyage of discovery and seek to learn everything there is to know about their new curiosity. Multipotenialites are comfortable with being a beginner because they have been beginners so many times in the past. This makes them less afraid of trying new things and stepping out of their comfort zones. Further, as they are well-versed at turning their hands to new trades multipotenialites are masters at transfering skills from past disciplines to aid their learning of a new field.
Superpower number 3: Adaptability
This is the ability to morph into whatever the situation requires. Mulitpotentialites believe that their skills potential are unlimited. This mind-frame allows them to take on any circumstance with conviction and practically apply skills learnt throughout their mulipotentialite journey.
Arguably, we should all be aligning our lives and careers with how we are wired. If there is one thing to take away from this blog – embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be. If you’re a specialist at heart than specialise. If you are a mulitpotenialite – embrace your many passions, follow your curiosities and discover valuable intersections. Being true to your inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.
To read more about multipotentialites click here
Watch Emilile Wapnick’s TED talk here