Do you have a superpower?
Perhaps you have more than one?
You could well be a multipotentialite.
Writer and artist Emilie Wapnick describes “multipotentialites” as people who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime.
Here’s a question we’ve all been asked:
What do you want to do when you grow up?
If you don’t know, don’t worry and if you’re not sure you want to do just one thing for the rest of your life then you’re not alone either.
If you struggle to narrow your interests or choose a niche then you are not odd, strange or indecisive.
Some of us don’t have one true calling or vocation because we are not wired that way. In fact, committing to one specific role or industry for the rest of your life might freak you out because it feels suffocating.
We have quite a few destinies and that because our wild eclecticism takes us in many different directions.
As Barbara Sher (2006) points out in her book, the pervading attitude is that successful individuals have one talent, one linear career or are dedicated to one hobby.
She calls someone who likes to go deeply into a topic and stick with it, and will usually have a career that specialises in one area as a ‘Diver’. A Scanner, in contrast, is interested in many different things and finds it difficult to choose between them.
Having lots of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn’t make you a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” (apologies for the archaic male bias) because having a range of diverse activities is a strength, not a weakness.
As Sher says,
Differentiation is essential for happiness of adults.
You do not have to focus on one thing, you can be passionate about many different things and do them all. You can actually be everything!
Wapnick’s idea is a similar way of saying a Renaissance person – someone who has wide interests and is expert in several areas.
Renaissance people tend to be polymaths and philomaths with talents and skills in cognitive, physical and social pursuits. They have broad and comprehensive knowledge about many different subjects and love learning and studying something new.
These are free thinkers, often self-taught individuals who are analytical, creative, well-read, multilingual, artistic and cultured. Think Leonardo Da Vinci or Galileo.
Multipotentialites might not necessarily be experts or masters of all that they do but they go down different rabbit holes and explore the intersections.
If your energy is scattered among many projects and commitments and you have a curiosity and hunger to learn how the world works and how we can connect the dots between disciplines then you are probably a multipotentialite.
This is why we shouldn’t say ‘reaching your potential’ – this means you’ve only got the one. Instead, you’ve got lots of potentials to reach.
In school, college and university students can often get channelled into a specific subject specialism and they end up staying there sometimes for a whole lifetime. That works for some.
But for a multipotentialite this scenario is a nightmare one because they refuse to choose. They are cross-curricular with many interdisciplinary interests and enjoy several and very diverse aptitudes.
Instead of one label, such as “I’m a lawyer”, scanners or multipotentialites enjoy using lots of labels because they are engaged in lots of areas.
If you want to know more than take Wapnick’s free quiz on her website homepage.