Some people recognize from early in their lives who they want to be and what they want to do. They are clear about their career path, they are focused and driven, and they become specialists in one thing. However, these days I meet a lot of people, particularly between the ages of 25 and 45, who have many interests and find it limiting to choose just one thing.
It’s not that they have no focus or can’t seem to finish anything. Quite the contrary – they are incredibly focused, yet on many things. They take a deep dive into a particular area of interest, become an expert, and create a product or a business – something tangible. Then they move on to another interest and dive deep again.
While “conventional wisdom” might say that you have to narrow your interests and concentrate on just one thing in order to be successful, many of the brilliant entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and progressive leaders of our time have indeed had many and varied interests. And, in fact, it was the pursuit of those many interests that led to their great success and often their extraordinary results.
Author, entrepreneur, and artist Emilie Wapnick invented a new term for people with multiple interests and creative pursuits. She calls herself and others like her multipotentialites. In her entertaining and thought-provoking TEDxBend talk from earlier this year (see the video below), she speaks of three great superpowers that multipotentialites bring to the world:
- Idea Synthesis – combining two or more fields and creating something new. In Emilie’s words, “Innovation happens at the intersections. That’s where the new ideas come from. And multipotentialites, with all of their backgrounds, are able to access a lot of these points of intersection.”
- Rapid Learning – multipotentialites dive deep from the start into whatever interest they are pursuing and are very good at approaching things from a beginner’s mind. She says, “This means they are less afraid of trying new things and stepping out of their comfort zones.”
- Adaptability – the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in a given situation. Emilie cites Fast Company magazine, calling adaptability the single most important skill to develop if you want to thrive in the 21st
These three skills are among the capacities that we focus on in developing your own Transformational Presence. They are all based on intuitive thinking and what we call TransformAction – the ability to learn a new skill, have a new insight, or discover a new perspective, and immediately put that new awareness into action.
Our work at the Center for Transformational Presence includes helping you expand your capacity for bringing together many ideas and concepts and “connecting the dots.” We give you simple and practical tools and skills for intuitive learning and discovery and for exploring unknown territories. And we help you learn how to better adapt your knowledge, skills, and talents to whatever is happening in the moment, creating new and innovative approaches when the old approaches aren’t working any longer.
At the same time, we provide tools and skills to build your capacities for focus, exploration, and discovery, as well as your stamina for persistence and commitment. These are critical skills both for those who identify as specialists as well as those who identify as multipotentialites.
Today’s world actually needs both specialists and multipotentialites. The specialists who devote their lives to a single focus bring a depth of understanding, knowledge, and wisdom about their particular field that can only be achieved by life-long study. Multipotentialites create from the intersection of their many interests, bringing together many disciplines, technologies, and ideas. When specialists and multipotentialites come together, the multipotentialites are able to take the specialist’s knowledge, wisdom, awareness, and understanding, and apply it to multiple fields, often even at the same time. It’s a winning combination with benefits for all.
Enjoy the video.
- TransformAction: A New Paradigm for Leadership and Coaching
- Focus On the Big Questions and Avoid the Trivial
- Living In a VUCA World – Making a Fundamental Shift In How We Think
- Choosing Where To Put Your Focus – Photography As a Metaphor For Life