I occasionally receive an email that I think would be helpful to share with the community. I’m honestly a little nervous about sharing this one because, well, Mike says some really nice things about my work, and I don’t want this to come across as me posting a testimonial or bragging…
I’m, of course, super appreciative for his kind words. They mean a lot. But the reason I’m sharing this is purely that I think it beautifully illustrates the path that a lot of us take on our way to accepting our multipotentiality. I think you’ll like it, and possibly really relate.
I wanted to say that I just watched your TED Talk and it rocked my world! I have known for quite some time that I am a multipotentialite, but I never had a word that encapsulated this truth about me. I had only thought of myself as “lacking in follow-through”, “easily distracted”, “never good enough”, “bored too quickly”, “never satisfied”, “laden with interests”, “ruled by my passions”, “whimsical”, “capricious”, “erratic”, “fickle”, “unstable”, “unreliable”, “a failure”, “a loser”.
I saw it as the one defining principle of my life that kept me from achieving greatness, because I never truly specialized in one thing.
Even having a lack of a label to describe myself as something other than the above, has caused me angst because I kept asking myself, “Who am I? What am I?” I am not just a teacher, or a coach, or a programmer, or an athlete, or a musician. Am I am not just one thing, am I even something? Am I nothing? How come I am the only one I know with this issue?” There must be something wrong with me. I felt so alone.
Why can’t I just be happy going to work and doing the same boring job day after day? I can’t just keep changing careers every 3-5 years, can I? Where is the job security in that? I specialize in nothing. If I specialize in nothing, maybe I am nothing.
And yet, while this dialogue was going through my heart and my mind, there was this other niggling voice pushing the other direction saying, “Look at how much you have accomplished? Look at how many things you are good at?” To which I always replied, “Yea, but I am great at nothing.”
Even though I dismissed this positive internal dialogue, I did stumble across two of the strengths that you mentioned for multipotentialites: idea synthesis, and adaptability. I knew that even though the sum total of myself must be flawed that I still did have two things to be thankful for about myself.
I can very easily connect with people from various fields and industries over a multitude of disciplines. I can readily converse with athletes, musicians, software developers, teachers, gardeners, and beyond, because I have spent considerable amounts of time pursuing these passions.
When it came to idea synthesis, I knew this was one thing I was great at. I could take completely unrelated fields and find solutions for problems by merging these fields. I could take the repetitive task of grading hundreds of tests as a teacher, write a software program for it, and execute in seconds what would otherwise take many hours. I could take what I knew about robotics and apply it to growing and monitoring my own vegetables more efficiently.
In my lifetime I have at one time or another identified myself as, or have been engaged in:
- software development
- website development
- leading a bible study
- playing instruments
- creating and maintaining a vegetable garden
- creating and maintaining an aquaponics system
- a professional cage fighter
- a top 100 in the world discus thrower (currently training for the 2016 Olympics)
- I am writing a book (unrelated to my blog)
- I went to seminary to pursue my master’s degree in theology and then dropped out
- a husband
- a soon to be father (I previously saw this characteristic of myself as one of the main things I need to train my children NOT to be, so they can be successful in life.)
- devoting many hours to learn to speak Spanish and French (not fluent in either)
This is not an exhaustive list.
While I mostly saw this as a character flaw in myself, I was able to recognize that I could readily see the solution to many unresolved problems. But, that also caused me to feel alone.
How come no one else sees this solution? It is so obvious to me. And often times when I would describe the solution I would just get blank stares, or quizzical looks, that I was sure communicated that I am an alien from another planet unaccustomed to our ways here on Planet Earth. If they could not see how great my solution was, maybe my solution was not so great after all. Maybe I am just weird. Maybe I am just dumb.
This email is becoming much longer than I anticipated as it is connecting to so many facets of my life, and I have too many synapses firing at one time as all of the schemas in my brain are reforming themselves in a Pangea-like way, so I will speed this along (maybe I will write a blog post about it). I did not consider myself a rapid learner. In fact, I thought of myself as the opposite. I saw myself as a slow learner, so I will have to reflect on this further.
More than anything, I wanted to say that your TED Talk had a major impact on me, and I felt the need to share that with you. Thank you for sharing an idea worth spreading.
Thank you Mike for the beautiful email, and for giving me permission to share it with the Puttylike community.
Can you relate to Mike’s journey? How did you come to accept your multipotentiality?
Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe
scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.