What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is a common question children are asked. Most give enthusiastic answers, no matter how absurd, but few of them follow through with what they say they want to be.
What is your passion?
This is another question that people (of any age) are asked. Society has made it the norm to focus on one thing and find a way to make a career out of it. “Study medicine, become a doctor.” “Study law, become a lawyer.” Some people pick one field and – through this thing called life – figure out that they would rather do something else. Or maybe even more than one thing.
There is a problem: what if you have more than one passion, or no passion at all? What do you do then?
People in this situation are told that it is abnormal to have and focus on more than one passion, and are left feeling useless. They don’t know where to start and because the norm is focusing on one thing, they don’t know who to talk to.
What people seem to forget is, having more than one passion is okay. Where do you think the term ‘renaissance man‘ came from? From Leonardo da Vinci and Aristotle to Oprah and Tom Ford, there have been many renaissance men and women over the centuries. The point is, being a person of many talents (and being very good at them) is not a bad thing. Artist, entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and coach Emilie Wapnick gave an eye-opening TED talk on “multipotentialites“, people who “have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions”.
As a multipotentialite (or multipod, slasher, scanner), you don’t need to be an expert in any particular field. You become interested in one area, dive in, and become good in that area. But, you get to a point where you are bored or no longer challenged, and move on to another field. This keeps on happening; you are simply feeding your curiosity, and as Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert said, “If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity just might lead you to your passion”.
WATCH: Elizabeth Gilbert: ‘FLIGHT OF THE HUMMINGBIRD – THE CURIOSITY DRIVEN LIFE’
But how can you have a steady income when your interests are diverse? Emilie Wapnick breaks down four work models commonly used by multipotentialites:
1. The Group Hug Approach: working in an organization that allows you to wear many hats. You are trying many passions, interests and skills on the job.
2. The Slash Approach: two or more jobs that you shift between. These jobs are separate and may not be combined (for example, researcher/baker, psychiatrist/DJ, lawyer/actor/producer)
3. The Einstein Approach: working at a stable job that leaves you with enough time and energy to work on your discoveries.
4. The Serial Approach: being a serial entrepreneur or working in one job for a short period of time, and when boredom hits, you find another job in a completely unrelated field