Recently I wrote a post asking if there is a multipotentialite nemesis and one fear which seemed to strike a real chord, was being scared about never fulfilling our true potential.
It’s the fear we’ll never manage to actualize the abilities we know we have inside, that we have so much to offer the world, and yet, it may never come to fruition. You’ll know this feeling if you’ve ever found yourself wondering:
“I know I’ve got it in me to do something of value, but what if I never ‘get it out there’?”
It’s a fear which lurks deep within me. Sometimes its power becomes overbearing as I realize, with each birthday that passes, that I have less and less years in which to do this thing (or things) I feel I’m capable of.
If your multipotentiality is characterized by jumping between interests on a regular basis, or your past is littered with a trail of half-finished projects, then you’ll truly identify with the difficulties involved in creating something of substance, rather than of transience.
I’m Not Seeking to Change the Nature of our Multi-ness
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not seeking to change our very nature, or turn us all into pseudo-specialists, but rather to investigate whether there’s a mechanism by which we can make fulfilling our potential more multipod-friendly.
I have a sneaky suspicion that most multipotentialites either are, or have the potential to be, very high achievers. We don’t spend our time obsessed with learning and experiencing so much, without developing an incredible internal library of skills and resources.
Fulfilling potential is something which specialists dedicate their lives to. They become experts in their chosen field, gathering degrees, diplomas, doctorates and professorships as they go.
It’s far easier to fulfill (and evidence) your potential if you spend your lifetime focused in one specific field, but that’s not the multipotentialite way. While we may have the academic aptitude, committing to that many years of singular-subject study may not look overly enticing.
A Draft Framework for Your Life’s Work (Multipotentialite Style)
I’ve been wondering if there is a different way to approach the demonstration of achievement that doesn’t involve needing a singular focus. Here are some ideas which I’d like to put to you, which I hope could form a framework to help us manage this debilitating fear.
1) What, How and Who?
As a self-confessed expert in fear, I know that the major component of any fear is it’s love of lurking in the unknown. If you can find a way to define what’s at the root cause of it, then you can start to release its grip.
What do you enjoy doing? What are your core skills?
If you find it difficult to define what you want to achieve, try looking at the how instead. If you were a specialist, the what would be much easier to define as there are likely to be common holy grails within your chosen field to which you could add your own smaller contribution: finding alternatives to fossil fuels, a cure for cancer etc.
When your interests are so varied, it can be tricky to pin down the what as your areas of interest are subject to change. Try instead to think about your core skills. It may be that you like to solve problems, teach or mentor, facilitate communication, build networks and make links, research and analyse information, design or be visually creative.
Knowing what your skill strengths are, gives you the vehicle for your activity. You know the skills you have to offer and can spot appropriate opportunities to use them.
Who do you want to make a difference for?
You may have a particularly strong sense of there being a particular type of person, group, community or demographic you want to work with or provide support to. Knowing who your clients or audience are, can make it easier to define what they need, and therefore what you could offer.
2) Create a Body of Work (Not a Singular Gigantic Achievement)
Given the multipotentialite propensity for shifting focus regularly, it would seem unwise to place all our ambition eggs in just the one success basket.
If you feel that sustained activity on a single project is for you, go for it! If however, you know this approach is never going to work for you, consider how a number of smaller achievements could be structured into a body of work.
It’s a bit like the over-arching theme in a Renaissance Business. You don’t have to focus solely on a single issue or interest, but rather find the linking theme between your varying interests to combine into a body of work. I’m talking here about the way in which even something as big as a skyscraper is not in fact a singular unit, but is actually constructed of thousands of smaller pieces fitted together.
3) What Does Success Look Like?
We need to have an understanding of what success looks like to us if we are to know what we need to do in order to achieve it, and to measure our progress against our goal. The tricky part is that the measurement of success is incredibly subjective.
For some of us, it means the self-satisfaction of knowing we’ve done something of value. For others, it may mean having an impact or making a difference to our family, friends, community, country or even influencing benefits on an international scale. Ask yourself:
- How will I know I’ve achieved my goal?
- How can I track my progress?
- Who do I want to recognise my achievements?
- Why are their opinions important to me and what happens to my feeling of success if they don’t see it the same way I do?
You’ll never please everyone, so it’s crucial not to base your personal measurement of success on the opinions of others. Keeping a sense of yourself and your core values, is good practice in grounding your ambition in areas over which you have some control.
Over to You!
I totally believe the dilemma of unfulfilled potential is one many of us may be wrangling with our whole lives. This post represents my thinking to date and as such, it’s not an issue I can claim to have all the answers for. I’d be really interested to hear your views:
Do you fear that you’ll never fulfill your true potential? Do you have tips, techniques or ideas that could help?
Bev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.