My mother used to nag me about being a Jack of all Trades… and not specialising in one particular area. But back then I guess she did not understand the makings of a multipotentialite! It is not about specialising in just one area but having the intellectual ability to excel in a few different fields. Historically, some of the famous multipotentialites include Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Aristotle – just to name a few. Da Vinci was known to have constantly blamed himself for not completing the tasks he set out but the world will always remember him as an inspiration with his ideas in the fields of science, maths, engineering and anatomy. Multipotentialites have this incredible ability to creatively bring together disparate ideas and make them work harmoniously and beautifully.
Yes, today I am happy to be termed as a Multipotentialite. And No, there really isn’t anything wrong with that. Time and again, I have had people who will stop at nothing to try to convince me that I had to find my one true passion and follow it. But they don’t understand the characteristics of a multipotentialite.
So, what is a Multipotentialite?
“I AM BORED” easily. As it is, our time on earth is too short and there is so much we don’t know. Hence, there is this inherent need to want to know more. Multipotentialites thrive on exploring, learning and mastering new skills. And we are living in the age where knowledge is at our fingertips. To every problem, there is always google.
“I AM OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD” by many out there. Let me count the times I have been termed as flaky and random or questioned by my superiors “are you sure you can do this? You have never done this before”. The truth is Multipotentialites are meant to do just that. Challenges and the unknown take us further. We are wired to explore new worlds.
Before I go on, here is my disclaimer. I am in my mid 40s. I am not a Millenial. And I am not claiming to be one. But I understand the Millenial mindset. However, Multipotentialites are not all Millenials and Millenials are not automatically Multipotentialites. There is just more of them in this day and age. Hence, there are more Multipotentialites in this generation. To understand their emergence let’s take a look at what we grew up with or what we are growing old with.
Level Up. Play any game, from crushing candies to shooting birds…they are all about going from one level to the next. The success of these games is dependent on how they increased the players’ skill sets. As you progress, the game plan changes. You are trained to do more with one action. All your senses are challenged from learning motor skills to strategizing and scheming, unlike the board games in the past.
Gamification. Everything we know and understand has been turned or is turning into an app. Something as simple as a healthy run in the park can now be turned into a zombie run whereby you are victimized and made to outrun or be eaten by zombies. And surviving every level earns you medals and gives you boasting rights.
So, what is a good career for a true Multipotentialite? Ask the next kid you see what they want to do when they grow up and chances are you will not get a straight answer. The problem is not because they don’t know what to do but rather they don’t understand why they need to specialize at that age. I am glad that my mom back in the 80’s agreed to let me pursue Mass Communication because it certainly fueled my interests in the areas of music, sociology, performing arts, writing, design and bio-technology. When I graduated I became a sound engineer, moved on to writing for pharmaceutical companies and then became a creative consultant. Since, I have directed tv commercials, written musicals to promote brands and written award winning radio scripts. I guess I am proud to be termed as a Multipotentialite.
Penny Low is a now a Senior Lecturer at IACT College focusing in areas which nurtures and explores creativity. She also heads the marketing communications team and champions Project ImPossible – which believes in enabling students to embrace their individualism and creativity. Low’s favourite quote: “There’s no limits to what you can do. You just need to believe.”