Recently I was having a conversation with my daughter about college classes as some of her older cousins are going off to college in the fall.
She was wondering how many different classes you could take each semester and expressed that you could only take classes in your major and your minor. I suggested the idea of taking a class just because you may be interested in the subject and she informed me that this was not allowed. She is 11.
How does my daughter at age 11 already feel that you have to choose a course of study in college and follow that course into the world of work?
Cultural norms support the idea that we have one purpose; that we are meant to do one important thing here on this earth over and over again until we achieve mastery. This general cultural bias towards specialization leaves out the opportunity for one to experience a broad range of possibilities.
In some of us, it creates anxiety over the consequences of choosing the wrong major, or taking the wrong job, or wanting to switch career paths in midlife. What if you want to study many subjects or have many careers or would like to pursue many interests?
What if you’re an e-Ticket kind of person who just wants to do it all!!
Well, you may be a Multipotentialite: A person with many interests and creative pursuits. And for you, there are likely many paths.
Advantages of being a Multipotentialite!
- You have superpowers. According to Emilie Wapnick, founder of Puttylike, we have at least five superpowers including: Idea Synthesis, Rapid Learning, Adaptability, Big-Picture Thinking, Relating and Translating. Emilie was one of the first people to latch on to this term and present the positive attributes of the multipotentialite in a TEDEx talk and book entitled, “How to be Everything.”
- You are a “Jack of All Trades.” You are good at so many things. The term generalist just doesn’t cut it, you are way more than general. You need not have an encyclopedic “Cliff Claven” mind to put your knowledge to work. Typically, a little knowledge on a subject goes a long way and knowing a little about a lot of things allows you to interact with a wide variety of people and ideas.
- You are creative. Multipotentialites are extraordinarily curious and enjoy thinking in non-linear paths bringing seemingly disparate ideas together.
- You enjoy the deep dive so make time for it. You know you want to know all about something you just learned. I have lost lots of sleep over the years researching topics and following up new ideas especially after a good historical fiction movie.
Challenges of being a Multipotentialite and trying to navigate a world set up for linear growth and mastery!
- Your credibility can be tested. You easily adapt and absorb information, but specialists will test you and call you out for not having the level of understanding that they may have in their area of expertise. You can use your rapid learning superpower to try new things and put yourself out there. The foundational knowledge you have is both vast and deep so draw upon your experience and research to quickly create a base for a new endeavor while at the same time connecting all the dots.
- You may not have an answer to the question, “so what do you do?” Look for an overarching theme or umbrella for your varied interests and talents. Do you like working with people? Working with your hands? Being strategic or getting messy? Look for the patterns in your seemingly disparate behaviors.
- You have a hard time finishing things. Don’t feel you have to complete a project to be finished. The finish line is different for everyone and only you know when you are done. It helps to define what you wish to get out of an experience before you embark on the journey. And make sure you finish something. If you run around not completing any of the projects that you start, you will feel overwhelmed with the volume of open-ended loops you have created.
The real test for a multipotentialite is to bring all of my varied interests and talents together into one career umbrella. As one myself, I can attest that to date I have held so many roles it’s hard to list them all. I’ve worked in hospitality, the healing arts, spas and retreats, psychology, marketing, entrepreneurship, writing and consulting.
The best path I have created is my coaching practice. The broad umbrella of coaching enables me to explore new information and work with a variety of people while using my vast knowledge in a strategic way. It took introspection and external input to help me get here. If you find yourself searching for that career umbrella, use my worksheet to answer these 10 key questions. They’ll help guid you. And in general, I suggest embracing the multi-lifestyle as an ever-evolving and changing e-Ticket ride.
Après is your savvy friend who sends you a weekly email to help you navigate the exciting, challenging and momentous journey that is Career + Motherhood.