Is Multipotentialite an Unnecessary Word?
Photo courtesy of Kate Ter Haar

Is Multipotentialite an Unnecessary Word?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Thoughts

I try not to argue with my detractors. They occasionally email me or leave comments on the blog (which I usually block). Most are simply not my audience, and therefore, not worth my time.

However, today I’d like to humour them; or rather humour you by addressing their main claim. If you’re an out-and-proud multipotentialite, there’s a chance that you may run into this same criticism, so hopefully this post will help you address it if you need to engage.

The main argument of my few detractors goes something like this:

“Multipotentialite” is a stupid, pretentious, unnecessary word. And anyway, we already have a word for this: polymath.

My Response

If you don’t like the term, don’t use it. Also, you’re missing the point of my work (and TED talk). It’s not about the word.

I say right in my talk that there are several terms that connote the idea of the person with many interests: polymath, Renaissance person, scanner, jack-of-all-trades, generalist… I did not invent this idea, and you should feel free to use whichever term you like.

The reason I use the term multipotentialite, is that the other names don’t resonate with me, personally. They just don’t feel right. But please, use whatever works for you. If you like the term polymath and want to describe yourself that way, then you’re a polymath. If you say you’re a scanner, then you’re a scanner. Identify in whatever way you like, but let us do the same.

Slight Differences in Meaning

That said, I do think that multipotentialite suggests something slightly different than polymath. To me, multipotentialite evokes the idea that I could thrive in many domains, and that there isn’t one area that I am predestined to excel in. My potential is broad; it isn’t discipline-specific.

The term polymath, on the other hand, makes me think of the great figures of the past: Leonardo, Franklin, Jefferson… It’s a person who has excelled in many areas. And while a multipotentialite might eventually evolve into what historians would call a polymath, our accomplishments are not our defining feature. If anything, our curiosity is.

But this is just my interpretation. If you want to describe yourself as polymath, then please, have at it.

When it comes to the “you can’t invent a word, there’s already a word for this,” argument, I think what might actually be going on here is that certain people don’t like that someone (particularly someone who looks like me/is of my gender) might dare to invent a word. It’s just a hunch I have, judging by how deeply bothered the authors of these emails and comments seem.

Cause, you know, there can be multiple words that have the same meaning. Synonyms are a thing.

What Matters Isn’t the Word, it’s the Idea Behind the Word

This whole discussion about semantics is silly. More importantly, it misses the point.

The point of my TED talk isn’t to teach you about this amazing new word I invented. My message, in a nutshell, is that if you have many interests, and there are several things you want to do with your life, there’s nothing wrong with you. What you are is a multipotentialite (or polymath, or scanner, or generalist or whatever you want to call it), and that is a great thing.

em_bioEmilie 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.

112 Comments

  1. Catherine Chisnall says:

    This article has a lot of useful advice, especially the bit saying: ‘all substantive work brings both praise and criticism.’

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/opinion/sunday/learning-to-love-criticism.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

    If someone comes up with a world changing idea, people will inevitably attack it ‘what? the world is ROUND?’ It just shows you’ve had an effect on society- which is good!

    • Jackie says:

      I’m sure many would say “world changing?” but I think you are right. Even if it is only world changing for the people who get to watch Emilie’s Ted talk, it can change their perception completely which can begin to change their whole world.

      • Catherine Chisnall says:

        Its certainly changed my world to think I’m not just a slacker but someone with a lot of potential who can do many things. I just don’t do them the same way as the majority of people :)

        Its all just fashion. Centuries ago it was an asset to be a multipod- these days its an asset to be a specialist. Fashion goes round and our time will come again.

    • jahna michaelsen says:

      NEVER too many words!
      sorry if my post/comment is a bit wacky, but see, i’m just home from the hospital after having a stroke.
      if my MULTIpotentialite bean hadn’t learned seeminly BAZILLIONS of words during my 53+years of spoken communication, the THOUSANDS i lost to my stroke last week may have made a bigger impact.
      thank BOB i have all these words… not ONE is wasted and not one takes extra effort to carry around in the rolodex in my brain…
      PEACE! there’s a word to love!
      jahna
      san jose california
      Jack of ALL trades; mistress TO none!
      proud MultiPotentialite
      TEDevangalist
      (obviousFormerAppleEmployee ;-)

  2. “Synonyms are a thing.” LOL I love it! Well put.

  3. Kim Forman says:

    I like the brevity of multipod, but I prefer the connotation of multipotentialite. Scanner feels a bit surfacey to me. Polymath is a new one to me, that one doesn’t feel quite right.

    Whatever the nomenclature I’m grateful to those of you who have stood up to say “This is a THING! Stop trying to make us what we are not designed to be! Stop trying to make us feel inferior for being something you don’t understand!” And even more importantly, “Let’s stop beating OURSELVES up for being who and what we are, and start embracing it and running with it, instead.”

  4. Royce says:

    I think you hit on the main difference between “multipotentialite” and “polymath” for me: potential vs. results. Calling yourself a polymath assumes a perspective of history that you do not have yet. That, to me, seems more pretentious.

  5. Eurobubba says:

    My favorite is still ‘slasher’, as in ‘programmer-slash-neurosurgeon’.

  6. “Multihyphenate” has drawn some of the same criticism, and my own “singerpreneur” has gotten a mixed response, although mostly positive: most of my readers seem to see it as a badge of honor, something to aspire to, which tells me I’ve found my people.

    The vocabulary we build around our own lives need only apply to us. As we go out into the world and brand our very diverse work, however, there will always be detractors, especially among those who apply more effort to criticism than to developing their own work and sense of self.

    Running any sort of public endeavor like this can be a pain, and will indeed bring emails and comments that are often annoying, sometimes downright disrespectful or aggressive, but hopefully mostly entertaining. I’ve gotten a variety of responses to my own work with Lauri’s List over the years, and while taking the worthy comments seriously can yield surprising insights to how the List’s work is viewed by the broader world, my increasingly thicker skin has ended up a useful accessory.

    Hang in there, and keep up the great work. Buy some good moisturizer and know that we’re with you!

  7. Em says:

    I feel the same about the words. I don’t like polymath also because it has the word “math” in it and I hate math :D It sounds all in all like something technical, like agriculture (dunno why I feel like that).

    Multipotentialite is not my favorite word either, though. It’s long and not very easy to write when you just woke up, but it has the “potential” word in it which is what really matters. It’s that you have the potential to become whoever you want to be, if you wanted. That you have it in you. I love that idea.

  8. Carol says:

    I like multipotentialite
    It shows multiple potential and lite,
    It’s like the light bulbs came on and it’s cool to have multiple interests and to float around
    and explore
    And l think you are a very cool brave woman
    Carry on

  9. Gladys says:

    For me, being a MULTIPOTENTIALITE is the first step to be a SUCCESSFUL MULTI-SPECIALIST. I added the word successful to connote the existence of both happiness and achievement.

    I agree that polymath sounds so technical, a person who ACQUIRED knowledge and technical skills in many subjects. While multipotentialiate is a person who is curious in many subjects, with many passions and potentials that can be DEVELOPED.

  10. Maryske says:

    I agree – going by the word alone, “polymath” suggests you’re good in all kinds of maths. And being more of an alpha/gamma oriented person, I don’t particularly like maths, and thus don’t feel I can associate myself with the word polymath.
    I’m very happy to use the term multipotentialite around here, or when discussing/explaining it to close friends. As others have already said, the word suggests the possibility of a lot of different potentials. Outside that circle, I feel most comfortable describing myself as a renaissance person. As I recall (and I’m far from knowledgeable on the matter), the core of the renaissance was the rebirth of scientific curiosity in all directions. That suits me just fine ;-)

    And you’re right: without synonyms, our language(s) would be so much the poorer!

  11. ian says:

    Language evolves and after the missing part of your TED talk – I’m an Einstein, so happily now use the term ‘Einsteintialite’ which to me says I’ve got a day job and this allows me to experiment with my other passions.

    I’ve used PolyMath to describe what I do and when asked what it means, say its about counting parrots. The old ones are the best ones :)

  12. Margaux says:

    Right on, Emilie. You’re absolutely correct.

    “there can be multiple words that have the same meaning. Synonyms are a thing.”

    And here is the point you made earlier which is that synonyms aren’t completely interchangeable, unless they’re actually the same word from different language roots. Usually, even synonyms have subtle shades of difference for those who care about language and nuance and meaning.

    I love that “Multipotentialite” is less braggy in meaning than polymath. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of calling myself a “polymath” because I’m not one and I’m sure everyone I know would think I was being an ass by calling myself one. Even being a “Jack-of-all-trades” is implying I’m more demonstrably and widely accomplished than I actually am.

    I actually call myself a factotum, the downsides of which include people not knowing what it means and not being able to work it out easily by the way it looks and sounds. However, it does most accurately describe what I do, which is all kinds of things.

    • Emilie says:

      That’s so interesting about the subtle nuances in synonyms. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it makes total sense.

      I dig factotum! Though I must admit it reminds me a little of my law school days because we were required to write these awful factums… lol

  13. Malcolm Stuhlmiller says:

    Emilie, you’re fine. I like that you ignore the detractors. However, in response to them, there is another TED talk by lexicographer Erin McKean in which she encourages all people to make up words to our hearts’ content. Check it out, you tiresome old detractors. The language changes constantly – get over it already. https://www.ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_go_ahead_make_up_new_words

    • Emilie says:

      Oh awesome! I will check that out. Thanks, Malcolm.

    • Matt S. says:

      I haven’t seen either talk, but my first thought at the notion of criticism regarding inventing new words, synonyms or otherwise, would be to respond by inventing more and more of them…

      “Complain about the way people [do|make] X, by [doing|making] more of X”

      :)

  14. United by curiosity.. I like it :)

  15. Steve B says:

    Hi Emilie. I like your word. My therapist says it describes me well. I also refer to myself as a dilettante…but only in private. Describing one’s self as such in public seems pretentious. Being a misunderstood multipotentialite is already stressful enough without drawing the ire of the semantics police.
    You are a brave soul! Thanks for giving me the courage to be myself.

    • Becca says:

      Lovin’ dilettante!

    • jahna says:

      dilettante was ALWAYS a bad word in my home; it implies one is a lightweight – particularly an INTELLECTUAL lightweight, which was strictly verbotten!

      on my last business card at Apple, i billed myself as “She Who Wears Many Hats.” HAR! Cos it’s ALWAYS been true!

      Peace!

  16. Orthonox says:

    I prefer using the word “Polymath” for myself simply because it is concise and it sounds cool to me even though I don’t possess nor excel all of the skills I want to learn. I get the idea behind “multipotentialite” but me personally, it is too long of a label for me to identify with, but glad it works well for you, Emilie. Scanner just reminds me of an electronic gadget. Generalist just sounds boring/generic.

    However at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what you label yourself but more on the idea itself is important and how you embrace it. Just arguing over semantics is just missing the point and not going at the root of things.

  17. Farida says:

    You said it clearly in your TED talk that multipotentialites themselves don’t agree on a label! All of the words that describe us can be used as much or as little as we like. I personally like the sense of belonging, even though I hate to be put into a box or labelled.

    Someone said to me that they didn’t need a fancy word when I said Mutlipotentialite, but they thought they were one – I’m not so sure they were. But who am I to judge?

    Curiousity is what drives me. I have actually started making up my own language, it’s silly fun, but currently I have a few words that have multiple meanings depending on the context and tone.

  18. Schon says:

    Well said! I like the term multipotentialite, it is positive and full of possibilities, just like me!

  19. It can’t be an unnecessary word if it is so liberating/validating/encouraging to so many people. It has, at times, been all of those to me since I heard it. If they don’t need the word or like the word, let them use a different one. I’m grateful to have choices to express what I need in a given situation. Synonyms are, indeed, a thing!

  20. Linda Ursin says:

    I prefer Mulipotentialite over the others words used to describe us. It sounds so much more positive and implies that we have potential in several fields.

    Polymath and Renaissance person make me think of something that happened a long time ago, the old masters.
    Scanner, jack-of-all-trades, generalist sound negative to me, like we can’t focus.

  21. K says:

    I mean haters gonna hate.

    I just found out about multipotentiality after struggling my whole life to find out if there is something wrong with me. I tried to find out as much as I could, there are so many terms out there and MULTIPOTENTIALITE is a word I can most relate myself to. I can’t relate to “Renaissance person” because I didn’t time travel from that period in history, “Polymath” makes me feel like I’m just set of numbers, symbols or formulas because I’m not, I’m a multipotentialite.

    I am not using multipotentialite to please anyone. This isn’t about you. I am a multipotentialite because this is how I identify myself and embrace who I am and live my life to the best I can. To me, MULTIPOTENTIALITE is such a straightforward and clear term. It shines in so much positive light and carries strength, encouragement and motivation. So, what’s so bad about it?

  22. Exactly!
    “My drama”, my problem got nothing to do with being a polymath, that wouldn’t generate me any problems… The difficult is to be multipotential, you got a multi future thing but not necessarily a lot of present!
    Thanks Emilie!

  23. Steve says:

    Multipotentialite is a terrific word, but I prefer to call myself a Renaissance Man. Multipotentialite to me implies multiple interests, but little development or expertise. Renaissance Man denotes development, knowledge, experience and application. I am older, so maybe it’s developmental and transitional.

  24. Rob says:

    I’m reading these comments with the utmost respect for everyone contributing to it. I am a bit lost for words though, rather baffled even. By the opinion of the detractors, but also by the urge seeping through many posts to conceptualize oneself, seemingly for the purpose of being seen or finding recognition. Personally I try not to qualify anyone, not even myself, by the use of a simple word. In my most humble opinion the uniqueness of every single creature (be it human, animal, plants or trees) on our beautiful planet deserves as much attention as the apparent urge to categorize them so as to grasp the complexity of our world. Briefly put, I am a visitor of the multipotentialite community because I can relate, not because I am like the next multipotentialite. Nor do I feel the need to call myself a polymath, scanner, generalist or do I need any other term to relate to. I am me, and that’s enough. You are you, and that’s enough.

  25. Jane says:

    I don’t particularly like any of the terms for it, but I get it, and feel so much more comfortable knowing that others are as curious and drawn in different directions as I am, and that is all that matters.

  26. Karolina Sober says:

    Well done. All words started as inventions.

  27. Sara says:

    Hello! This is my first comment and I’m italian, so maybe not precise as a native english speaker.
    I have a little theory about words: to me each word has a semantic sphere around it, with a “meaning” coefficient. The least meaning coefficient is 1, for words we can use only in one situation with one meaning. For example selfie. I don’t like these words, they are poor, they contain low energy and information.
    I like the words with greater semantic spheres, in contexts with a lot of synonyms, so that you can choose the acceptation, the nuance you are looking for.
    I loved the term “multipotentialite” from the beginning, it’s a neologism (and I’m seeking to find one that I like to translate it in Italian!), and has a big semantic sphere. Differently from “polymath” or “genius” it has in the meaning the acceptation “potential”. This means, you don’t have to excel like a polymath in a lot of fields (which in our world with our knowledge now it’s very difficult), and you don’t have the pressure to deepen one area of knowledge and be recognized as a genius. You have the potential to do a lot of things, to know all the new stuffs you desire, without the pressure to climb the hierarchy for years in the same field to be recognized as a polymath or a genius. That means to me, you can enjoy your life, taking the opportunities you want to, and you have only be careful to manage your talent, in order not to waste it.
    Since when I know this word, this philosophy and its perspectives (10 days), I’m calmer, I know I don’t have to push only in one area anymore to be considered good, I can use this characteristic as a talent and not as a problem or a source of dispersion! Because they told me also this, I do a self-sabotage. That’s why I find this word brilliant. It’s about the potential, the fact you don’t have to have a single “vocation” in life to realize yourself, and you don’t have to push yourself to be considered as a genius. You can only play with your skills, enjoy them, and work in a synergetic way with the complementary people around you!

  28. Liesbeth says:

    All words are usefull, because with words we try to express ourselves to connect with others. Allso to give meaning to your life. But soms people use words in the wrong way. They use words to hurt people, as a defense and to condemn. Using the words to say that a person is stupid, or that something that she invented is stupid, says more about the person who is talking and it has nothing to do with the subject he or she is talking about.

  29. Jan says:

    Still chuckling at the notion that you can’t just invent a word. How else have all the words in our language come about? Someone somewhere made a suggestion, and it caught on. That’s why we have a field of study called “linguistics,” and it’s what makes it so much fun to look things up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Language is a living process!

  30. Nothing wrong with inventing new words. If we didn’t, our rich language would be barren.

    My favourite invented word at this time of the year is “Winterlude” – it’s the time of year when many multipotentialites make their choices about what they will explore and bring to fruition in the coming year.

  31. Hafiz Khan says:

    Like many have said in this thread: we are creative people and have many interests. We probably know more about many things than the “non-multis”. But that’s US! Polymaths, by definition, are folks who are experts in multiple fields. Perhaps in a scholarly way. We may not be “professionals” in our respective “fields” but we take great interest in them. We just can’t stay still and not to mention be bored!

  32. Gabi says:

    It is a thing! As an English teacher, Fiber Artist, former Financial Manager, Event planner, and Sheep Farmer, having some words to give to people when introducing yourself is so the world can feel like these multi/scanner/polyists can be defined. We multis can feel more confident in our meandering paths, perhaps. Words are power, if using a label makes you feel constricted, don’t use it. If it helps you, great!

  33. Lynne says:

    Emilie it was you who made me realise why I’d had so many exciting starts over the past 40 years while completely failing to stick at anything, and ending up on a very low income with a raft of qualifications and experience getting me precisely nowhere.
    It’s your framing of the idea that’s helped me, and while I’m still struggling to focus, I have an aim and it encompasses many aspects of my interests, and I have hope. So thank you!
    Some people exist only to shoot down others with interesting ideas whom they find threatening, where they don’t even have to face the objects of their ire in person. I hereby name these people ‘scaredy-multi-trolls’.

  34. Edy says:

    You couldn’t have said it better. Multipotentiality is, in my view, something inside the person. Something one feels. So, it is hard for a monopotentialite to understand it, the same way a born blind would understand what is a colour.

  35. Saskia (Anti-detractor) says:

    I think it’s very helpful you came up with this word!
    When watching your TED talk, I got this awesome feeling of recognition and acceptance. And that was great, but then when you introduced the term multipotentialite, it also made being a multi a much more positive thing! And gave me the possibility to proudly acclaim ” I am a multipotentialite”, and that feels so empowering.
    Judging by the reaction of the audience it made more people feel the same way. It is a very positive word, but also a fun word, it doesn’t seem to take itself too serious, but it’s also an empowering word. I think it is very clever.

  36. Becca says:

    I love the term Multipotentialite It is what it says on the tin:
    It talks of multiple potentialities.

  37. Cindy says:

    Your Ted talk caused a shift in the way I think about myself – and love the term “multipotentialite”! It’s full of potential, optimism and action. I would never in 100 years describe myself as a polymath or a renaissance woman because to me, these terms sound pretentious.

    When I was growing up, I lived all over the the US and Europe because my father was in the military and we moved every 2-3 years. One of my least favorite questions is, “Where are you from?” My answer is always everywhere and nowhere. I can’t really claim my birthplace or any of the other places I lived because they have all informed my world view.

    My second least favorite question is, “What do you do?” I could drone on and on about all the things that I do and interest me, but I’m pretty sure the person asking would zone out. I think I’ve used the term dabbler before, but that seems to imply someone who isn’t serious about any one thing. From now on I intend to answer with, “I am a multipotenialite.” It’s a great quirky term and conversation starter.

  38. Angelo says:

    This reminds me of a discussion I had last month.

    “Are you sure you’re a multipotentialite? I’ve never heard anyone call himself that.”

    “Whales probably don’t know they’re mammals, too. But that doesn’t magically change reality, does it?”

  39. Jackie says:

    I have never heard of the terms Polymath, scanner or generalist, so your TED really struck a chord with me. The term “Jack of all trades” for me, always seemed to apply to someone who was able to repair things….many types of things. Scanner and generalist don’t sound particularly flattering. Would a scanner be someone who searches for opportunities to jump into a situation? This could be a helpful person or someone who thinks he knows everything about everything and really knows very little about anything. The term “Renaissance person” implies a well balanced person who has formal education, culture and perhaps a degree of physical achievements. This would not apply to me because my passion for continued education is not with verification, I’d prefer to help my children finance their travel and 5 or 6 laps through the forest at the dog park keeps me healthy,wealthy and wise (have you seen the studies on walking and neurogenisis?)

  40. Georgia says:

    Thank you for this article! The few people I have been brave enough to talk to about this haven’t loved the word (even though I do for the many reasons mentioned above). But I used to describe myself as “a lifelong dabbler” becuase I enjoy trying lots of things but rarely feel the need to master anything. While I love calling myself a “dabbler”, these same people interpret this as lazy…It’s not the term but the notion that they don’t like. Anyways, as always it’s nice to read these articles and feel supported! Good vibes everyone

    • Judi P says:

      When I read the word ‘dabbler’ in your comment, my first thought was of the dabbling duck. These dabblers survive and thrive through dabbling, so I went to Wikipedia for more details. There was SO MUCH in the description of this kind of duck that I saw as a positive metaphor for the multipotentialite. I was immediately sucked in by the ‘mostly gregarious’, ‘strong fliers’ and highly migratory’ descriptions. SOMEbody has to fill that niche in our social ecology, why not you? Read on and see if you agree:
      “The dabbling duck … group of ducks has been so named because its members feed mainly on vegetable matter by upending on the water surface, or grazing, and only rarely diving. These are mostly gregarious ducks of freshwater or estuaries. These birds are strong fliers and northern species are highly migratory. Compared to other types of duck, their legs are placed more towards the centre of their bodies. They walk well on land, and some species feed terrestrially.
      “Puddle ducks”, as they are also called, generally feed on the surface of the water or feed on very shallow bottoms. They are not equipped to dive down several feet like their diving counterparts. The most prominent difference between puddle ducks and divers are the size of the feet. A puddle duck’s feet are generally smaller because they do not need the extra propulsion to dive for their forage.
      Another distinguishing characteristic of puddle ducks when compared to diving ducks is the way in which they take flight when spooked or are on the move. Puddle ducks spring straight up from the water, but diving ducks need to gain momentum to take off, so they must run across the water a short distance to gain flight.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatinae
      Take flight like a dabbling duck!

  41. Mónica says:

    Emille: your answer is simply perfect: no need for any other word to elegantly respond without using the “F” one… Before watching your TED talk, I felt confused and judged. After listening to your brilliant description of what a multipotentialite is, my heart filled with Joy, as I finally found what my true essence is: I can easily thrive in so many areas and now it feels sooo good just to say it to Myself! Thank you for your contribution! Creative, excellence fanatics, a bit crazy, curious and word lovers like me truly appreciate that. Warmly, Mónica

  42. Wendy says:

    as a 53 year old woman, I love this word. I can remember being in my 30’s and becoming panic stricken that I had never chosen the ONE THING that would define my work life. I was a bartender, a school bus driver, retail worker and when I opened my first store, a bookstore, I thought this is it. It wasn’t. It was great, it was intoxicating but when I sold it, I thought what next? can’t I stick to anything? People were actually mad at me for selling “my dream” and from somewhere deep inside I was able to say, “but I have other dreams, y’know”. Three more shops, working for friends in between, I am now working in a bookstore, planning number 5. Emilie, you helped me realize it’s OKAY. In fact, it’s better than ok. It’s pretty great being released from the pressure of finding the ONE THING, when what exists for me is LOTS of things. Thank you for the word and the meaning. Wendy

  43. Amanda Heye says:

    Words are just symbols we read. We negotiate there meaning through more words, personal and shared experience. Of course, you can make up words. History shows we make um up and drop um constantly. There should be a word for morning grumpy posting pre coffee…. Get on that.
    I agree, polymath seems to be used more with accomplishment and not the potential of what could be. Great question.

  44. Terry says:

    Emilie,
    Your response is perfection. So, I’ll not give someone who uses the word, stupid, in response to anyone about anything, additional thought. You’ve taken care of him brilliantly.

    The word Multi*potential*ite, is so positive. It gives me a feeling of great self worth and excitement. When my family, who has said for years, “you are so talented, there are so many things you can do,” what do you want to do? Now I have a community to help and you to see me through.

  45. Heather says:

    I laughed my way through this article! I’ve been following you for a long time, bought your book the Renaissance Business, and finally, after FOREVER going through all my interests, skills, struggle with eventual boredom, etc., was able to form a business around all of it. And I know I couldn’t have done it without your help. So ANYONE who is mean about your awesome word can stick it. I’m grateful for what you have done – and so early in your life! – and being willing to share it with the world in such an accessible way. On top of all your other talents, you’re certainly a hilarious writer. Keep on keepin’ on!!

  46. Arcole says:

    I’d also say I like having a number of words with a number of connotations. When I think of myself as a scanner, I’m drawing on the idea of gathering information from a wide variety of sources without concrete plans of how I’ll use it—yet. I’ve never considered myself a polymath (too intimidating), and “jack of all trades” is typically followed by “master of none,” which is a little negative for me. I’d like to think that I do have some levels of mastery in some of my interests. I agree with Jackie that Renaissance person carries too much baggage in the formality department for my taste.

    I think in the end, I’m pretty happy with being puttylike. I’m flexible, I change, I go different directions depending on the circumstances, I adapt.

    Emilie, thanks for all you are doing for us fellow multipolyscangenRenjackpeeps. How’s that for a word?? Anybody with an issue with me making it up can bite me. (But not too hard. I’m a marshmallow puttypeep.)

  47. George Cassini says:

    Multipotentialite is a powerfull word if someone doesn’t like could choose another word , don’t worry Emily the criticism is a signal that you are in the right way, I learnt not argue with people that just need liberate emotions, the silence is my answer in this case.

  48. I think the words “polymath” and “multipotentialite” have quite different meanings and, up until now, there was not a single word adequate to describe a multipotentiate. A polymath is usually defined specifically with regard to learnedness and/or development of deep intellect in many areas of specialty, almost what one might call a “multi-specialist.”
    But as you have noted, Emilie, you and your friend coined the term multipotentialite as a derivative of terminology used in personality and learning styles assessments, which speaks to more dimensions of personality or Multiple Intelligences (to cite Howard Gardner’s framework).
    To me, polymath and multipotentialite seem distinctly different, and neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. I think there is room, and more importantly, need, in our vocabulary for both word.
    As for the accusations of pretention, anytime you challenge the conventional thinking about how to value the contributions of individuals to society, you are going to draw fire from those who are secure in the historic convention and who fear that their comparative worth will be eroded by the new way of thinking. In this case, expect especially those who are emotionally vested in being recognized as a specialists to come at you with full anti-multipotentialite force.
    Awakening is always resisted by the inertia of the preceding unconsciousness. We experience this every morning.

  49. There are critics on every single topic under the sun. No matter what anyone says, critics revel in criticizing.

    On the positive side, criticizing just opens new doors of exploration and an opportunity for us all to understand that, as much as we are alike, we are different. Some critics just like to tell others “they’re stupid” or in some other way flawed. Good critics voice their opinions and the reasons they see the topic in their own way.

    Though criticism can sting, making “friends” with criticism can be a way to expand our views and assist in refining our thoughts even further. It’s not easy – ever.

    Critics should definitely hold the title for “the oldest “profession” in the world!”. Let’s face it, Emilie, the greatest inventors, artists and thinkers in our history have been criticized costing them more than words on a blog but, sometimes, their livelihoods or their lives, only to be hailed later for their breakthroughs.

    If your ideas are being criticized, it’s a good thing – at least you had the courage of your convictions and stuck your nose out there as so many critics will not.

    You’ve done the rest of us a great service through your courage because society, in general, sees people like us as “flakes” rather than treasure our special gift.

    Our resumes don’t look like other people’s – a straight line – but ours are jaggered. We are made to feel we “don’t fit” the “typical” and HR claim they don’t have the time to figure it out. What they don’t have is the ability to see the benefits of a unique perspective and how it could help their business. Yes, that’s a criticism – well-founded by the experiences many multipotentialites have had.

    Emilie – keep on keeping on – for all of us in your “tribe”. Your gift to us is immense!

  50. Mike says:

    “Synonyms are a thing” Hahaha! I love it.

  51. Pamela says:

    Who says you can’t make a word? We’ve been making words for well, as soon as we got past grunting. I make up words all the time… Friends call me a wordsmith. The way people vote on whether words stick or not is by adopting them or not. This I the evolution of language. So whining about new words is a bit small in my opinion …especially in these times.

  52. Shahla says:

    Straight forward and meaningful. What boggles me though is that people have so much negativity within them that they find time and energy to bring others like you down. Frankly speaking, it reflects on their limited mindset not on your work, so keep up the good work Elimie.

  53. Pamela says:

    And PS- I use the word multipotentialite when I share the concept with others

  54. Joshua says:

    Hey Emilie! Personally, I’ve never liked the word “polymath”. Sounds too rigid or academic to me, plus the math part, though not related to math in this context, is an issue. One of the few things I tend to suck at regardless of effort. My first exposure to the concept (and what completely changed my life along with this site) was “scanner”, which is what I prefer, though multipotentialite is a stronger and still awesome word :) But, I agree with your point that the term doesn’t matter, it’s that you are curious about a number of things and that should be embraced, not condemned. Great post!

    I also want to add that to me, “generalist” isn’t quite the same. I don’t want to argue semantics (or lack thereof), but for me personally a generalist is more of a generic word. Like, “oh, you’re just a generalist”. But scanner or multipotentialite sound like identities, pointing more to the curiosity/exploration aspect and that it’s ok to embrace that, rather than just being trained in many things. I suppose generalist has too much negative context attached to it, as well. And “Renaissance person” just gives me imposter syndrome :p Just my thoughts.

  55. Moshe (Moses) says:

    Hi Emilie,
    since English is not my mother tongue I fall short in talking nuances about these wordings. I respect each term mentioned above.
    I myself, when pitching to other people about my multi-facet professional path, find it always as an uncomfortable situation. People are confused with my path.
    Recently in an article about future developing professions two words, among others, were mentioned: Generalist and Fusionist (bingo!). I relate much to the latter, which accurately portrays my way of working/being :-)
    At the end of the day, each of us will make use of the term that describes one’s best. Regards to all fellow Fusionists!

  56. Sarah W says:

    Well said Emilie. I’ve been having a ball making up words to play with for my overarching theme and, would you believe, most of the .com domain names associated with them have gone. It looks to me as though someone’s seen a market for made up names, a missed opportunity for those who denounce them! Sarah

  57. I like the difference between curiosity and accomplishment. Go with the word! ‘Potential’ sed to be a ‘sad’ word, as in something you don’t ‘live up to.’ I wonder what you think?

  58. Sas says:

    ‘Our accomplishments are not our defining feature. If anything, our curiosity is.’ Thank you, your posts always help me understand myself a little bit more and teach me how to find my place in this world. Having grown up in England, where accomplishments are highly praised, I had a childhood of frustration that others didn’t understand why I wanted to try everything and not put myself in one box.
    On a personal note, I don’t like the word ‘polymath’ because it reminds me too much of ‘polymorph’, and that was a really evil alien on the TV series Red Dwarf :)

  59. tj says:

    It seems to me some of the ‘issue’ is of allowance, or permission.

    What happened when I first came upon this idea of the multipotentialite (I’d not heard of scanners, and would never have had the audacity to call myself a polymath, to put myself in the same realm as Leonardo), was I felt finally I was given some kind of permission to see myself as something other than a scattered dreamer who couldn’t realize her potential. The word I had the biggest battle with was right there in this new word/idea (new to me, anyway), and this new way of thinking of myself was surprisingly emotionally moving.

    What the naysayers are doing is in effect removing or denying that permission. Their reasons may be ‘multi’, but their potential-block is potent, and speaks to exactly what is frustrating about the world multis/scanners/polymaths live in: Things must be done this way, as they always have been, because there can only be one, maybe two if you’re binary-focused, ways to do things.

    The difference since I started to embrace my multi-ness is that I don’t permit ‘them’ to filter my perspective anymore. It’s been quite a revelation. To just boldly live the life I want to, to figure out a way to make it work, to let go of the learned ‘should’ and ‘this way only, dear’ approach, has meant even the most hard-lined one-pathers in my life have begun to accept my new approach as the right one for me.

    In a strong way, I consider this acceptance as one of my successes this past year-and-a-half.

  60. Brenda Scott says:

    Great piece, Emilie.

    I love how you make the distinction between the terms “polymath” and “multipotentialite.” The root of your word, “potential,” really says it all. I think budding polymaths are often multipotentialites.

    I don’t think that we need to restrict polymaths to the Leonardo da Vincis or Thomas Jeffersons of the world – and I know you didn’t do this, but some do. I think there are plenty of polymaths out there today, and I am always thrilled to meet them. In my experience, though, they are older; they had some time to begin to realize many of their potentials.

    Perhaps there is a line that some people cross from being a generalist to being an expert in many areas. Once that line has been crossed, I think the term “polymath” is merited. They can make some of the toughest mentors – but some of the best I’ve ever known. And imagine their troubles in answering the question, “What do you do?” :)

    Thanks for this. Great smack down without actually smacking anyone. Very well done.

  61. Anna says:

    Hi Emilie, i like multipotentialite. I used to call myself a jack-of-all-trades (master of none!) but it sounds a bit sad and down at heel. Multipotentialite says i have potential! At 44 yay! Changed how i view myself for the better. Like you i think polymath is those big achievers in lots of disciplines, and fails to catch the idea of curiosity that i have about everything, without necessarily achieving anything, just indulging. If some people don’t like multipods and potentialites they can just move along :)

  62. Gigi says:

    “Our accomplishments are not our defining feature. If anything, our curiosity is.” Yes, yes, yes, Emilie!! That’s it!

    The problem is that some people think we’re all supposed to ‘accomplish’ something. However, the definition of success is subjective and highly individual; what seems like an accomplishment to one may not mean diddly squat to another. I’m dedicated to lifelong learning. I think the world in all its aspects is beyond fascinating, and until my dying breath I will never run out of things that make me curious. If to me, personally, my greatest accomplishment is to have studied—or even just dabbled in—a great many things versus specializing and getting a degree or making a career out of one thing, then in MY book I’m already a success. To lose the curiosity would be a failure. To no longer wonder about anything would be death. To not embrace my multifacetedness (is that a word? It is now, LOL!) would be to deny an essential aspect of my core being.

    I’ve been referring to myself as a scanner (or a PMI, a Person of Multiple Interests) because Barbara Sher’s description was the first I identified with, but I think multipotentialite describes us wonderfully. Language is fluid, alive, and we should absolutely keep making up words. Since I’m a fan of acronyms, how about EPIC? Extraordinary Person of Insatiable Curiosity. ;)

  63. Heidi says:

    Emilie – until I watched your TED talk, I had always felt like the loser (albeit a successful-in-many-different-and-wildly-varied-projects type of loser) because to others, I was the one who didn’t ‘fit’. To them, I seemingly couldn’t make up my mind and grow up. Why couldn’t I be sensible and (particularly after having two kids) get a ‘proper’ job – but that was never it. They, and I were missing the point completely. Thanks to you, I now OWN this, and am proud of what ‘this’ is – I don’t care what name you give it, it’s completely irrelevant (although multipotentialite is pretty darn cool!) – like you say, it’s the idea behind it that counts.

  64. Heather U-K says:

    Gosh, people can find ANYTHING to attack. As someone who grew up constantly being attacked because of being different, I find this continuance so completely annoying and beyond boring. Really, you haters, you are boring. Yawn.

    That said, I love ALL our words. Once I realized what I am, I’ve used, even in one sentence, several different words. I like Scanner, I like Multipotentialite, I like Polymath and I’m partial to Multi-pod. Generalist is in there, but not the top. My tops, of what I call myself are Multi-Pod, Scanner, Polymath. I don’t usually use Multipotentialite but have (not because I don’t like just because it’s apparently hard for my brain to say and I keep totally flubbing it when trying to say it!) But I still am that too! I like what you said in your talk, that you love that we have all these words to describe what we are. Me too!! So, haters be hatin’ and so sad that they are SO TOTALLY BORING AND SAD PEOPLE. Yar.

    Fellow Multipotentialite, Scanner, Mulitpod, Etc…..
    Heather U-K

  65. Heather says:

    I think multipotentialite is a GREAT word!!
    Like you, I feel that I’m more than the sum of my abilities…
    I’m more than the achievements I list on my resume…
    I’m more than most people can imagine (and I find it a struggle to work in their limited vocabulary)…
    The key part of this term for me is POTENTIAL. I see my potential (as well as the potential in others) and I know that 1+1=3 or more!

  66. Nancee says:

    Yeah, haters gonna hate.

    It’s like the use of the words maybe, probably, and perhaps. Choose one. It just depends on the situation.

    I personally like multipotentialite. I also use Renaissance (like Renaissance man) because that’s what most people are familiar with. I’d sometimes use polymath, but I don’t really identify with that anymore because it seems to mean someone who’s a TOTALLY ADVANCED expert in pretty much everything under the sun. That ain’t me. :)

  67. Nancee says:

    Oh, and math was my WORST subject in school. Polymath? Ummmm, no. :)

  68. Mirna says:

    Well said, Emily. I think what drives a person to spend time and energy telling you what words to use, or worse, questioning what you do, is somehow related to jelousy: you do all those things because you are special, blessed with curiosity and drive. The word multipotentialite may be more resisted than others because “potential” is associated with high performance, but for us this is not an achievements contest, it’s driven by our curious nature. I’m happy I found you! Makes me feel less misunderstood. I think it has to do with accepting my own Diversity. Is self-diversity a word we are allowed to invent? http://wisergems.com/2015/12/diversity-and-inclusion-starts-at-home-being-the-whole-of-you/

  69. Jeff G says:

    You are stirring energies and emotions within your critics… who are more than likely more critical of themselves than you,so don’t take their nasty or snide remarks personally. Just keep being you. Your multipotentilite model to the world may just be the one glimmer of hope that your critics have to finding his/her own hidden multipotentilite with him/herself,yet are afraid to look for or face..it’s less painful for them to bash you than face him/herself. Stay strong and know that your words and works are getting through to the multipotentilite hearts and souls of the ones choosing to be critical.

  70. Denny says:

    “Cogito, ergo sum” in Latin which means “I think, therefore I am” said by Descartes a french philosopher lived from year 1596 to 1650. I think multi-pot is very similar to left-hander, either we lived it or we don’t, regardless of the ‘label’ and knowing that we constitute a ‘smaller’ group or ‘not the norm’.

    I like to believe each of us have the potential to be a multi-pot OR choose to specialise on a single career track. The difference is in our ‘being’. Whether we can muster the energy or curiosity to ‘start new again’ each time and ready to let go of acquired status quo.

    IMHO this is what ‘differentiate’ an individual whom have latent multiple potential from an individual who constantly re-invent themselves. Either in life or professional work.

    So, yes Emilie, whether we have a label or not – the current rapid changing and developing world is pushing us to constantly (re)adapt and soon, if not already now, we are all more or less multi-pot, if we want to stay ‘afloat’.

    How’s that for the detractors?

  71. You rock. You also rule, dominate, represent, testyfy, signify, and pone!
    Thanks for all you do, and synonyms ARE a thing!
    Also, calling one’s self a polymath can sound a little hifalutin even (or especially) if true. Yours is a more nuanced term that leaves just enough to the beholder. BRAVA!

    Mac,
    Polymath, Mmultipotentialite,Renaissance Man, and Much, Much More!

  72. Dave W says:

    POLYMATH? I thought that was a parrot that could add up!
    Seriously though, good answer!

  73. Erin says:

    I love the word Multipotentialite. It resonates with me so happily.

    I had read Barbara Sher’s work before yours, and it clearly applied to me, but Scanner didn’t resonate–that feels like the opposite of what I do, I sequentially go deep. And I agree with your impression of Polymath, I don’t feel like I have the credentials (although my list of random-seeming impressive credentials is long).

    Multipotentialite is how I feel, like I’m bubbling over with multitudes of potentials.
    It’s empowering for those of us it applies to!

    Also, making up words for new concepts is how language develops. I know, I have a BA in English (#3 on Random-Seeming Impressive Credentials List).

  74. Sarah says:

    If they can put garbage like “selfie” and “lol” (and other text shorthand) in the dictionary as well as shorten average size words to “toats”, “cray-cray”, “fab”, you go right ahead and do your thing. Philly area people make up words all the time. Look up “jawn” sometime. People just like having something to complain about. :)

  75. Eileen says:

    You can’t invent a word? Really? So the 2016 version of Webster’s dictionary was the same size 10,000 years ago? New words and ways of communicating are growing exponentially. I would suspect new words are created (maybe not “approved”) daily in multiple languages. I for one appreciate your words and encouragement Emilie. I come from a pack of siblings that are well known for their specific potentials. Me? I’ve always been the one that didn’t fit in any one box. Just didn’t know how great that was until I turned 62.

  76. Connie says:

    Well, almost anything is better than “flaky”.

    • jahna says:

      unless one is a delicious pastry! Flaky can then be quite the compliment…

      And isn’t THAT the whole point?? There is ALWAYS another side to every point of view. And we multi-poS may ONLY be experts at realizing EXPERTS and SINGLE SOLUTIONS aren’t EITHER!

      :-)
      Peace: there’s a Word to Love!
      jahna

  77. Jack Wu says:

    Thanks for your TED speech. I had some frustrations in my early career, just because I didn’t realize the multipotentialite character that I have and didn’t know how to embrace it. I wish I could know about this earlier. Thanks for your effort to spread this idea. I think it would help lots of people .

  78. Traci says:

    “Synonyms are a thing.” <<<made me laugh very loudly! Also, and more importantly, I would NEVER identify with the word polymath. I've actually never heard it before (oops) but the pure, one and only fact that matters to me is, it contains the letters MATH in it. That doesn't exist in my vocabulary. As analytical as my brain is, I cannot stand "math." Therefore, I'll stick with Multipotentialite thank you!

  79. Hello Emilie, hello all!
    I live in Auckland NZ and for years I struggled though I managed to excel in most of the things I did.Soon, I will be 50 and I wondered why I am still struggling trying to find out what exactly I should be focusing on and why I am still so keen to explore and get involved in so many other things.
    I am an exhibiting artist, a song writer, sometimes singer, morale booster, activities organiser, owner of a small and rather new Bali restaurant, fashion designer wannabe, teacher, trainer, wannabe writer (started a romantic comedy years ago), employee at a hardware store etc.
    Being tied to my employment for past 8 years… I have had a steady income but it robs me of time to invest in my own businesses. I love my job, but I need to be free to make my other businesses successful.
    I wish to quit my job, but my family will think I am mad as I have a huge mortgage.
    Knowing that I feel and do what I do is a good beginning. I am going to buy your book and find out more. :)
    Thank you!

  80. Anurag says:

    Hey, Emilie
    TED speech was just amazing. I was very upset before I heard your speech. It was like whistle-blower in my head.
    I have completed my civil engineering in 2015 and I did was, for the sake of doing it. I realised my mistake when I was a sophomore, but then I really couldn’t leave it in between. Now, its been 6 months that I was confused because I couldn’t decide what is my one thing that I would like to pursue. I am attracted to so many things like cooking, travelling, photography, djing, poem- writing. The interest I have mentioned, are the ones I regularly do. To be honest, I still don’t know from where I am going to start and be a professional.Please guide me and help me out.
    But definitely, I am seeing myself in a positive manner and this could happen because of your TED speech and word- “multipotentialite”.

  81. Linda says:

    I think it also shows peoples lack of understanding – they are not multipods so it seems like meaningless noise.

    I have often been upset by wank words, people using long words when a perfectly fine short, common usage word exists – the all time classic for me was cockroaches are thigmotactic… i.e. they respond to stimulus!! But at the same time, I get upset when people don’t understand something I do – they stand out because they don’t know the correct language.

    One thing I have learned is that the deeper you get into something, the richer the language you need to talk about it. So yes, Im a multipotentialite! :)

  82. Alex Gros says:

    LOL,i love this lady, perfectly written response, and i resonate with your words yet again when you wrote:”our accomplishments are not our defining feature.If anything, our curiosity is” Thank you yet again for eloquently putting into words what is in my head! :)

  83. Libby says:

    Polymath is, well, boring.

    BAZINGA!

  84. Laurie Sotro says:

    Hello,

    I’m new to your site, just heard a podcast you did with Jeff Goins, loved it, and looked you up. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about “multipotentialite”. But what I DO know is that someone (that would be you Emilie) finally described me perfectly! I love the word! I’m a self described butterfly, because I never land on a flower for very long. Just have to keep moving on, exploring, doing, experiencing. Sometimes mastering, sometime failing, but always learning. Anyway, thank you for your work. Thank you for your word!

  85. Laurie Sotro says:

    Please forgive me for spelling your name incorrectly! Sorry Emilie!! How can I change the post?

  86. Rob says:

    My biggest criticism of this whole “Multipotentialite” movement is that it plainly seems to be narcissism. You guys seem to have this odd sense that being talented at many different things is such a difficult burden which you must suffer through, so you form an online community where you pat each other on the back. But really it’s more like stroking each other’s… ahem… egos.

    Yes, people can be good at lots of different things and yes, interests can change over time. I’m not sure the benefit of calling so much attention to it. Just do your thing. And when your thing changes, do your new thing.

    Anyway. You mentioned in your article that you delete critical comments. Judging from the singularly-minded comments section, it appears that you do.

    Best of luck in all of your endeavors.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Rob,

      I actually block very few comments (maybe 2%), and I only block comments when they are plainly disrespectful and/or don’t contribute to the discussion. I think I blocked 1 comment on this post, because the anonymous writer left a comment about how I should use a different photo in my profile. It was rude and entirely out of context. All of the other comments that came through were approved. As a general rule, I welcome thoughtful, constructive criticism, so thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      The reason there is so much mutual support (or back-patting as you put it) around here is that many multipotentialites have been told our whole lives that there is something wrong with us and that we need to change if we ever want to amount to anything, or even matter. This can lead to very real mental health challenges: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or just a deep sense of “not being okay.”

      A lot of people discover the concept of multipotentiality and feel, for the first time in their lives, that there is nothing wrong with them. I’m generalizing, as there are certainly people who grow up in more supportive environments. But these years of being pressured to change and hide the breadth of who you are and what you’re capable of, are the reason there’s so much mutual support up in here. Specialists get plenty of praise and support in our culture, but this is one of the few places where multipotentialites can find understanding, encouragement, and resources.

      In my experience, most multipotentialites are very humble, and actually discredit their accomplishments far too much.

  87. Emil says:

    Hi Emilie,

    You are doing a fantastic job raising awareness about the antithesis of narrow specialization, which is great because the Renaissance approach seems so underrated nowadays. I am personally grateful for my liberal arts education and have seen it pay off again and again in my work.

    I agree with your definition to describe our approach and I agree we need another word for it, but the word multipotentialite is too awkward (as you say in your Ted talk, a mouthful). If I may offer some feedback on your piece, I would contend that the word we use does matter. The general idea of broad interests and dot-connecting is what unites us, but I’m afraid that without a useful word to express that idea, we will remain limited in our ability to advance the concept. After all, our human understanding is based on language, names and categories we give things, no? And it is a common name that helps people realize this is actually a thing, and unite under that banner (as your word “multipotentialite” has probably done to some extent?)

    It’s possible that something similar happened with feminism in the 60s and 70s when the word took a diffuse set of issues (housework, child-rearing, equal pay) and united them under a common banner and gave the movement the broad support it needed.

    And finally, a common, positive word would help us convince others that our approach carries validity. It would help us convince people to hire us and work with us. I’ve personally struggled to convince skeptical colleagues who often cast it as a dichotomy between being a specialist and a generalist (“generalist” in my mind is somewhat disparaging in that it evokes shallowness).

    So we really need a common word that as many people as possible would actually use. For it to be able to stick, it would have to sound natural, have a ring, if you will. Sadly, I haven’t yet found that word.

    I hope that’s useful. Would be curious to hear your thoughts.

    Emil

  88. Marciana says:

    I am amazed. I am a romanian Law school student…and I’ve always thought that is something wrong with me. All of my coleagues have really big grades and they are selected to go to law firms..and I’m not like them. I find myself as being mediocre. Weak. I get bored. I’m inconsequent. I look at myself as being a weirdo…and I have this anxiety that I will do nothing with my life..

  89. Carmen Martins (From Brazil) says:

    OMG! I’m sorry to know that. You know what? I believe people can “give” only what they are made of so if some stupid hater says something idiot like you sad this did, he (or she) is just poor minded like his/her sad words. Haters are always gonna hate. Period! You are just amazing, you just made me (and thousends) feel “normal”, I’m reading Barbara Sher’s books too because of YOU, Emilie! Please, get upset for a moment because it’s anoiyng but let it go!! You deserve all the best things!!

    Love,
    Carmen

  90. I have to tell you, the word “Multipotentialite” changed my life.

    For one thing, I never hear of the word Polymath before that, so if it’s supposed to be so ubiquitous, it was lost on me, and I have a fairly large vocabulary. Plus, I get a connotation of math, which has never been a pleasant association for me.

    But when I was describing to a friend my frustrations at finding my one true mission in life, or following my passion, she gave me the word Multipotentialite” and it was like my whole world lit up. Having many potentials is a concept that has revolutionized my thinking in so many ways.

    Like you, I tweaked the received wisdom and invented my own word, Multipassionate. I don’t think it’s exactly the same as Multipotentialite. My focus is on pursuing those passions which excite me. My word resonates with me as yours does with you, and that’s good. It’s something positive we can contribute to the world.

    Glad you’re sticking in there with your passion of being Multipotentialite. Keep it up.

  91. J O says:

    Well, unnecessary isn’t in itself a bad thing. It must be up to every person themselves, if they find it necessary or not. If it motivates people, then that in itself is all the reason you need.

    However, I do think that all the labeling in general, that people put on themselves here, is actually in contrast with the concept itself.

    i.e. “I am an web designer, an artist, a writer, a cook, a photographer, a traveler, a speaker, etc”.

    In my understanding, the concept is about not having to fit into boxes, but when people label themselves like that, with every hobby/skill they have, they are exactly putting themselves into boxes

    I understand the need, both professionally and socially, but I think it’s wise to keep it to a few relevant labels, or it can have a counter productive effect.

  92. Not Jack says:

    Emilie, you’ve done it again. Sometimes, it is SO hard to ingnore ignorant detractors, you handle(d) it well.

    “Synonyms are a thing.” THAT one is specifically perfect for that situation, but I also see it as a general incongruent response to so many blatantly ignorant statements I hear.

    I’ve been geeting notices when any posts a comment to your previous post about multi-dualism, ‘Who else…’, and the occasional re-visit to your post has been an enjoyable pause for contemplation.

    Funny the latest should come when I am struggling with another annoying comment I have heard through out my life. Now, I’m wondering if all of us polymaths/multipotentialites have this in common, as well.

    I was speaking with a neighbor recently about neighborhood things, (impatience, complaints), related to my trying to restore my house and yard to some semblance of what it was before a disabling brain injury followed by a 7 yr law suit trying to keep my house from being stolen by a crooked mortgage company, (we did win) and the lack of understanding a condition developing over nearly ten years is not going to change in two or three years.

    She asked me if I needed help, (I get very tired of this stupid question, OF COURSE I need help. But don’t just ask, show when you have some free time and ask what you can do – I don’t have the time to organize people.), to which I replied, ‘Yes, I can always use help.’

    She followed this with, ‘But you’re such a perfectionist.’

    Not, ‘What can I do?’ or ‘What with?’, any of the number of things the Pres of the neighborhood association could say, or propose.

    I muttered something like, ‘There is a right way to do most things.’ But it stuck with me.

    Understand, this is a person who I have NEVER jointly done ANYTHING with. Nothing, EVER. How in the world did she form that opinion?

    Is this something you hear said of you? How about others?

    Regards,

    Not Jack
    Not Mediocre, Either.

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