At the brilliant Blognix on Saturday, the crowd were introduced to the word ‘multipotentialite’ by Emma Cossey, freelance presenter extraordinaire. Emma and I chatted about hearing of the term from the very person who coined it in the first place, Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike. I know that for many people in the Blognix audience, it was all very new, so I thought I’d write a quick post about it here in the hope that it might prove useful.
I’ve known that I am a multipotentialite for years now. My About page goes into more detail about it and has been the catalyst for many people to realise that they too are part of the multipotentialite community!
Other ways of describing multipotentialite include scanner (from the remarkable Barbara Sher) generalist, multi-passionate, renaissance soul and polymath. I tend to use the terms interchangeably, as do most of us within this community. It feels rather fitting that we can’t stick to one of them…
Are you a multipotentialite too?
Here are some common signs…
You never knew what you wanted to do when you grew up. And you probably still don’t. How to choose, when there are so many possibilities… My daughter currently wants to be a ballet-dancing doctor. And why not?
The idea of doing one thing for the rest of your life terrifies you. You feel stifled by the though of having the same job until the day you retire. You might have tried different jobs, different career options or studied completely different things in the hope of finding your passion. But that passion sometimes dries up and you move onto the next thing. Sometimes, you return to an old passion time and again, like you’re stuck in a loop.
You’re always excited by shiny new projects or ideas. Very often, scanners will be more excited by the planning of a project than by the execution of that plan. You should see the project plans I have completed but never done anything with. By the time something is ready to deliver, scanners are already horizon-scanning for what is coming next. We’re easily bored…
People call you a dilettante or ‘Jack of All Trades’. Sadly, people who don’t understand this kind of personality can be pretty scathing about it. But, the expectation that people would just choose one career path for life is a relatively new one. Historic polymaths like Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin are two really high profile examples of people undertaking a huge range of activities within one life. Not that I’m comparing us with Leonardo, but the Renaissance period was definitely one in which a multi-passionate person would thrive.
You love to learn new things and probably have a giant, sprawling list of seemingly un-related interests. Learning is the Best Thing Ever for a multipotentialite. We’re really curious by nature. I’m constantly learning new things, attending courses, studying, trying new things and generally getting giddy about note-taking… Recently, this has included spoon carving, wild swimming and letterpress printing. I love to develop new skills, even if once I’ve learnt how to do something, I never use that skill again. The fun is in the learning.
Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of these signs? Nodded your head a bit? Breathed a huge sigh of relief that it’s not just you? Hurray! Welcome to the multipotentialite community. It’s a good place to be.
Come back to Margot & Barbara next Monday to find out why NOW is a great time to be a multipotentialite!