SLASHERS UNITE!!!!

SLASHERS UNITE!!!!

Written by Emilie

Topics: Scanners

You may have seen Mars Dorian’s post yesterday about how “slashers” (those who describe themselves using many labels– i.e. MULTIPOTENTIALITES) are screwing themselves out of a career.

I tried to bite my tongue– I really did. But you guys just kept cc’ing me!! Heh

Baker over at Catfish Parade published a response post and I couldn’t hold back any longer. I had to comment.

Alas, I might be igniting a fire with this post, but what kind of multipotentialite tribe leader would I be if I didn’t defend my peep!

Let me begin with a quote from Mars’ post:

There’s one thing that’s bothering me lately, and I see it EVERYWHERE nowadays. I see it on Facebook accounts, Twitter profiles and about pages. I see it in email signatures and tweets. It’s making me want to vomit in my mouth, and it’s keeping YOU away from success.

What ?

It’s a terrible description that more and more people give themselves.

It goes like this:

I’m a writer / entrepreneur / traveler / consultant / designer and blogger.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaang.

That’s the sound of shooting yourself in the foot.

You know what this tells me ? That YOU suck at each and everyone of them !

(Offended yet?)

And now, a quote from Baker’s response:

My main thing is writing. And I do put all my eggs in that basket.

But the long list of other things I do? That’s PART of being a writer for me.

I love music and playing music. Listening to great songs and playing guitar make my sentences have better sound and rhythm. I love cooking and do it well–and that helps me describe things with words that bring your taste buds alive. I have some of my best ideas for plot while I’m swimming laps. I like sports and people-watching, and those help me think deeper about characters. I like eavesdropping and catching curious turns of phrase, and that helps me write better dialogue.

That’s the value I see in being multi-passionate and describing yourself with lots of slashes. Creative people and independent thinkers use the world around them–including all the things they like to do–as inspiration for their main gig.

And that’s true for every creative person I know. No creative person who is any good is just creative in one way. Many of our extra creative acts like playing guitar and drawing, and even sometimes mundane everyday stuff like doing laundry, somehow feed into our big creative outlet. We might not even know how, exactly, but they damn sure do.

My Response

(A slightly modified version of my original comment on Baker’s blog)

First of all, Mars got his facts wrong. Seth Godin is a self-proclaimed master of all trades. His MESSAGE revolves around marketing, but his MEDIUM (actually that’s media– plural) involves writing, speaking, entrepreneurship, consulting, and so on. He wears many many hats. In his own words: “On any given day I probably have fifteen or twenty “occupations”.”

I like Mars. I think he’s an insanely creative dude with a lot of brilliant stuff to say. But he’s clearly not a mulitpotentialite and doesn’t get it. When he sees “slashers” on Twitter, he thinks they must suck at everything they do. He wants to “vomit in his mouth”. But when I see slashers, I think, “there’s one of us! An interesting, multifaceted, multi-talented person. That’s someone I would want to work with!”

If society automatically assumes that having many skills makes you a dilettante, that’s a problem with society. It’s a socially-constructed stigma that’s beaten into us from childhood and throughout the school system. And it’s totally culturally-based.

Back in Renaissance times, for example, people were encouraged to become highly skilled in many different areas. They believed that humans are “limitless in their capacities for development”.

I also believe that having multiple skill-sets will help you STAND OUT in a sea of specialists. It might even be necessary these days!

I’m so glad Mars’ post didn’t intimidate you into shying away from your true nature, Baker. Embrace your slasherdom!

That goes for the rest of you too. Do not be intimidated by the specialists. They are everywhere, repeating their mantra (“YOU GUYS ARE NON-COMMITTAL LOSERS.”)

You’ve probably heard from them your whole life. Please don’t let them scare you into conforming!!

65 Comments

  1. Morgan says:

    Right on!!! I would hate to be tied down to one specialty. I have many passions and they all fuel each other. You are right, its a society issue. And its also an issue for those who aren’t able to handle more than one thing at a time.

    I can see the slashing becoming a problem when they half Ass it, but if you’re using all your skills and passions in life to the best of your ability to fuel everything you do; you’ll be more profitable than anyone.

    Thanks for sticking up for us! :)

    • Emilie says:

      For sure. Some people are wired to be specialists, and we need those people. But others are wired to do many thngs. Your diverse skills can come together in interesting ways, yes (and they almost inevitably do). But they can also stay wonderfully separate.

      There are examples of people with multiple careers all over the place. In a past episode of Undeclared for Life we referenced Debbie New, who published a book on knitting and holds degrees in Microbiology and Education, has worked as a musician and inventor as well as in the field of biomedical engineering, and is a mother of 8!

      (found her when I was searching for lesser known multipotentialites).

      Anyway, all I’m saying is that there are various ways to deal with being a multipotentialite. You can have one umbrella career or multiple careers, either simultaneously or sequentially. Both work.

      Thanks for the input Morgan!

  2. I read Mars post and thought, damn he is right! So I quickly dashed over to my blogs about me section and then realized, wait, I like it how it is.

    So I thought, yeah, I like Mars, but he is wrong on this one.

    Seth Godin is huge. Everyone knows about him. He built a name for himself being everything. But I’m sure when he started out, he had to use slashes too. And you know what, I like seeing how people self-identify.

    Thanks for sticking up for it too!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks David! I’m glad you found me. Abe (below) suggested I “mine Mars’ comments for dissenters” heh… But I figured it would be more effective to just write a response post and see who turned up. :P

      It’s easy to question yourself and have doubts when someone you look up to tells you you’re doing things wrong. Believe it or not, my first instinct was to look at my own Twitter description! Especially after reading all those comments from people agreeing with Mars… But I quickly came to my senses and was like NO, wait. I can identify however I like!

      This whole thing was a good reminder to trust yourself, even over the supposed experts.

  3. Funny that we both said thanks for sticking up :)

  4. Michelle says:

    I’ve got a couple of comments on this:

    1. I think that often people who AREN’T Scanners/polymaths/etc. mistake the fact that we have multiple interests for thinking we might not know very much in any one of them. Right? But this is a huge mistake. Obviously there are several different kinds of us, but one reason I’m a scanner is that I have an amazing ability to process a lot of information, fast. (Which leads to boredom, which leads to scannerdom.) When I get obsessed with a subject, I will read everything – EVERYTHING – that I can get my hands on about it. We’re talking several interlibrary loan requests, coming home from the library with a stack of 10 books that’s devoured in a week, eight hour internet reading binges.

    So yeah, I’ve been interested in a lot of different things, but I have a pretty deep knowledgebase on any one of my obsessions. My husband (also a scanner) put it really well one time, when I was miffed at what I perceived as someone being patronizing towards me. He goes “You know, I’d never thought about it this way, but I think it would be really easy to be patronizing to you on accident. Because you just know SO MUCH about SO MANY different things.”

    (Michael Martine kind of touched on this in his comment over at Mars’s blog – kudos, Michael!)

    I think that when people see someone with multiple interests, they assume that that person must only know a tiny tiny bit about each one, and with a lot of scanners, that’s just not true.

    2. Being a Scanner is a HUGE thing for me because it helps me see connections that other people miss. Baker talked about that pretty thoroughly in his post, but it’s true & worth repeating – I can draw connections between what works in style and what works in life, for example (which is my post going up tomorrow) that others might have missed. Or justifying the price of shoes and feeling like you have to justify other choices in your life (which was another post I wrote a few weeks ago :P ).

    We see patterns and repeating problems that others might miss, which means that we can fix or change those patterns while other people are still scratching their head and wondering what the hell is going on. Do you think da Vinci would have been such a great inventor if he wasn’t a painter and scientist, too?

    In fact, I’d love to see what an anti-slasher person would say about a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.

    They must suck at all of them, right?! Aaaand you just dissed one of the greatest minds in history!

    I think a lot of this comes down to your perfect people, too. If someone is a specialist to the point that they scoff at anyone who wears multiple hats, they’re not my people, and I’m not their’s, and that’s ok.

    I would actually hold Seth up as one variety of scanner. And I love your point about society/culture; people tend to assume that specialists always reigned supreme when it’s definitely not the case.

    I actually didn’t even read all of Mars’s post to be honest – I read a few comments, but as for the post, I got to the end of the part you quoted & said “All right, not for me!”. But at least it spawned some interesting responses, right? ;) (And, um, REALLY long comments…)

    • Michelle says:

      Also – I think it’s funny that the original phrase was “Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than master of one.”

      And yet people still use “jack of all trades” in a disparaging manner…

      • Emilie says:

        Wow Michelle! This is it’s own blog post my friend. :)

        I agree with everything you wrote. I think there are different kinds of scanners too (Barbara Sher actually sets them out in her book). Some of us bring all our interests together under one “umbrella career”, and others dive deep, obsessively deep into something, master it FAST, get bored and move on. Then there are all shades in between. Plus some of us dive into 1 thing, others into 2, some have interests that cycle in and out, and so on. Many shades of the multipotentialite rainbow, if you will.

        Thanks for the wicked comment!

        • Michelle says:

          Yeah, I remember her describing different types – I’m kind of a mix of two, in that I have several different interests that I juggle at the same time but I also tend to go through periodic obsessions where I’ll do info-binges and then get bored when I’ve read everything I can find. I should reread Refuse to Choose, I remember really, really liking it.

          It was definitely a long comment, I might turn this into a blog post of my own as well!

      • Ian says:

        Wow Michelle, I never knew that there was more to that phrase! Thanks….. Google. Ok, I’m back ;-)

        Being, a Bricklayer, carpenter, joiner, roofer, tiler, kitchen fitter, bathroom fitter, plumber, electrician, painter and decorator, gardener, landscaper, mechanic,

        Oh,

        and a Trauma and Disaster ‘specialist’ and humanitarian (east Africa),

        oh

        and a webmaster, writer and code monkey; the term has, more than once sprung to mind……NOT the master of none bit, obviously :-)

        So glad I found this community! Reading hundreds of books and being a very keen autodidact does make one feel isolated from the regular Friday night crowd sometimes,

        Kudos Michelle (and Hi Emilie!)

        • Emilie says:

          That is a hardcorely awesome self-description Ian!

          I too frequently stay in on Friday nights to “work”. I put work in quotation marks because it’s really FUN. Doesn’t feel like work. It’s a total choice. I’d much rather stay in and work on writing my book or a website than go at a pub and lose my most productive hours (+ many hours the next day due to hangover).

          It can make one feel isolated though, certainly. But that’s what online communities are for. Also having a bigger picture vision- something you’re working towards helps.

          Thanks for the comment Ian!

          • Ian says:

            Hiya Emilie, at least you can put up a self description (like ours) on here without sounding like you are just bragging lol!

            I have little kids, so my Friday night/Saturday morning hangovers are pretty rare these days.

            Kids are sooooo unsympathetic/intolerant of hangovers…….

            Oh, and they make far to much noise for anyone with a self induced headache :-)

          • Emilie says:

            Haha.. Fair enough Ian. :)

  5. Brian Gerald says:

    Say it again, sista!

  6. Holli says:

    I am so glad you and others have spoken up. I was a bit frustrated, I mean a LOT, by Mars’ assessment. I cannot pick one thing. That’s been a life long battle, one I am choosing to not fight anymore.

    Awesome post, and shares! Go peeps:)

    • Emilie says:

      I’m sorry you were hurt by his post. That’s really the reason I felt like I had to respond… Not so much for me (though I was a little peeved), but for other scanners who may have felt slighted. I wasn’t sure how many multipotentialites had actually seen his post, but after reading all the comments here, I can see there were quite a few.

      Anyway, I’m glad I could do my part to help. Talk soon Holli! (p.s. looking forward to brainstorming your Renaissance business tomorrow! :)

  7. Julie says:

    All I can say is that here in ‘the middle of nowhere’, where the average population of our towns is 1000, if we weren’t multipotentialites we would not survive! Period. People can’t afford to specialize here, there just aren’t enough people to market your specialty to? I for one own two businesses and have a part time job just to make ends meet. I am an artistic person who loves working with numbers and have managed to build 3 careers in which I can use these talents. Sorry Mars, I’m with Emilie on this one.

    • Emilie says:

      Really good point Julie! Being a multipotentialite is an enormous advantage in the modern world. It allows us to leverage different skills and work multiple angles/revenue streams.

      I’m super thankful to have my writing, web design, film making, audio production, and law skills. Sometimes they mush together (like when I registered my web design business and applied for a trademark: law + web design), other times I use one skill on its own (freelance video editing for example). Both work.

      But yeah, HUGE advantage when it comes to paying the bills (and not getting bored)!

  8. Abe says:

    Maybe that was his #failweek post?

    :)

  9. I must confess, I read Mars’ post and immediately went to adjust my twitter bio. He got me :(.

    However, I couldn’t swallow it that he was correct. I was still battling with the thought that is their another way of looking at it besides how he painted it.

    Alas! Emilie and baker responded!

    Then! ((((Bannnnggggggg)))), I slapped myself.

    I belong to this tribe. I can never be a specialist of sort. I have multiple interests that can weave into each other to form a bunch of talent and creativity.

    I also agree w/ Micheele. The enthusiasm that some of us take to a project and devour it may cause us to get bored w/ it eventually. Also their are different types of scanners.

    Thanks Emilie for providing this avenue for us to meet and interact.
    I wrote a post too – Slashers vs Specialists –

    http://jesseoguns.blogspot.com/2011/04/slashers-vs-specialists.html

    • Mars Dorian says:

      Hey Emilie,

      like I said before – it’s not about being a specialist with one skille but rather owning your career -your “ONE” thing – your legacy project.

      And since everyone is referring to Seth Godin as well, check out his short talk in the link. Especially starting at 4 minutes straight reveals the treasure…
      http://vimeo.com/11706360

      • Emilie says:

        I STILL disagree. I think you can dominate in more than one area. I also think you can have more than one career either simultaneously or sequentially and be really good at both/many of them.

        My dad won the world scrabble championship in 1999 (wiki “Joel Wapnick”) and he’s a top music professor at one of most prestigious universities in North America. Now he’s finishing up his first novel, which is pretty damn good too.

        And that’s just one example.

      • V says:

        Just because you can’t do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Some of us are just up for the challenge. If you aren’t, that’s okay. We need all types in this world. Just because someone is different than you, doesn’t mean they are wrong. Try being a little open-minded. Us multipotentialites appreciate you specialists, it would be nice if it went both ways.

      • Betty says:

        Another thing I get kind of tired of is this idea that you have to be the ABSOLUTE BEST at something. Not every situation calls for the absolute best of something EVAR. A lot of situations just call for getting the job done well (at a reasonable price, etc.). I’m not looking to be the best. I’m looking to be the right fit. If I’m the right fit with my good-but-not-the-absolute-best-in-all-the-galaxies, that kind of makes me the best for THAT situation. And, again – if it ruffles someone’s feathers that I don’t fit into this perfect little box of the prefab convention society tells us we are supposed to fit into – well, that’s not my problem if at the end of the day I did what I wanted to do and helped someone with what they wanted help with. Others can go right on ahead being neurotic about their legacy. It’s not my motivator.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Jesse,

      Yeah I saw your initial comment on Mars’ post and was a little confused… But I’m glad you figured things out. :)

      Love your response post. Thanks for jumping in!

  10. gutsygeek says:

    Hey Emilie,

    Again, I totally agree with your magical post. Here are some examples of great people who have left huge legacies in several different categories each.

    -Bo Jackson, super famous in the 80s and early 90s. He was the first athelete to be named an All-Star in two major sports, baseball and football. He paved the way for many others. His thing would be baseball/football.

    -Neil Strauss, the world’s greatest pickup artist, and also a fantastic writer. He started his own online pickup school, which is huge, and he is an awardwinning and bestselling author for his biographies, Rolling Stones articles, celebrity interviews, and his book on pickup. His thing would be writer/pickup artist/survivalist.

    • Emilie says:

      Haha nice! Yup, it is true. You can indeed be a freakin’ ROCK STAR in more than one area.

      (it all comes back to Neil Strauss though, doesn’t it. ;)

      Thanks Rami! Stoked for your launch on Thursday.

  11. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this.. those of out there who have many passions and pursue them needed to hear that we weren’t “shooting ourselves in the foot.” :)

  12. AKA Byronious says:

    Are you all the ones sitting at the coffee shops pecking away on your lap tops?

    • Emilie says:

      Is this spam? LOL

      • AKA Byronious says:

        Yes, Emillie.. my spam-a-gram.

        Come of folk – I wished yawl would spend some time volunteering instead of tripping on Mars.

        • Emilie says:

          Just standing up for my peep Byronious.

        • Layla says:

          Ohh, and how do you know many of us AREN’T volunteering??

          I’ve spent SOO much time volunteering in the past 4 years people have become angry with me for doing so much for free!! lol!!

          don’t make assumptions if you don’t know the people you’re talking about..

    • Layla says:

      hehe, I’m not in coffee shop on a laptop…

      Though sometimes I’d wish to be haha!
      (we don’t really have coffee shops as such here in the countryside.. :)

      Byronious, it’s not just Mars – it’s a big part of society, including parents/family/neighbours/friends… who wish us to ‘specialize’ and ‘settle down’ and for some scanners (like me) it’s just kinda, uhm, impossible, ya know?

      When you have so many interests and things you’re good at, or potentially good at – or especially if you’re really interested in the things you haven’t mastered yet, this is an important question. One that we have asked ourselves many times. It would be muuch easier sometimes to just ‘go with the flow’ and be ‘normal’ (though who wants to be??)

      And yup, I’ve read advice to have separate websites for separate interests/skills, to prevent this kind of attitude (that one is a ‘dilettante’ or not expert enough..) For some people this may work.. for others, combined skills can make them even more attractive..

      Even ‘expert advice books’ for writers (eg by Kelly James Enger) say it’s more lucrative to position yourself as ‘expert’ in several specialized fields – and that you get more credit writing about eg scuba diving if you actually do scuba dive.. And that speaking is a natural extension from being and expert and writer.. (It just tells people you’re comfortable presenting ideas in spoken language too!!) So I don’t understand why this would be a problem??

      Maybe Mars was frustrated with the ‘so many people’ aspect of it – it could speak of ‘market saturation’, a bit..
      writer / entrepreneur / traveler / consultant / designer and blogger – those seem to naturally complement each other… I don’t see a problem??

      Different things may upset different people, but if I’m not mistaken, Mars himself seems to be one too??
      (Is it just about being afraid of competition??)
      Must read original blog post now though, lol.

  13. amber says:

    Hell fucking yeah, sister! Mars’ post left me fuming, and a little disappointed. I expected someone that talented and creative to be a bit more open-minded to other paths of life. There is no one right way to live!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Amber! Yeah, I felt a little betrayed too. I’ve always really liked Mars’ stuff. We’ve chatted on Skype before and I think he’s a rad dude. So yeah, I was surprised too. I think he just maybe didn’t think this one through fully…

      Anyway, thanks for the comment! Excited for Portland??

  14. Lynn Fang says:

    Right on!! Like the above commenter, I felt totally betrayed. Hey, I love everything under the sun, and I’m going to be a success in multiple fields. And anyway, like I said in my comment on his site, it is the polymaths that truly change the world.

  15. Layla says:

    hmm, I actually read his post, and he does make a point – or a few :)

    You can definitely be *too* scattered – been there!! Some scanners/multi-interested people can be ADD too, or just lack knowledge of certain fields or how to delegate well or may have too much anxiety or social anxiety to do well etc. – then again even specialists can have this problem too!! (Commented over on his site too, not sure if the long reply disappeared or will get posted:))

    So, some focus is good – the question is how to achieve a good balance between things done for $$$ and things done for free, effective time and overwhelm management and project management etc.

    I agree with Mars that sometimes other interests can be used as an excuse or ‘escape’… some scanners even found that they could settle for one ‘good enough’ job after years of therapy.. :) (check Barbara Sher forums if you wish :))

    Some people can know A LOT about multiple fields, some may be clueless about anything.. so yup, we’re all different..
    I read a ‘fat’ book in 1 day, some people may read a book a year – or in their lifetime!! We’re all different – and how boring the world would be if we weren’t!! :)

    Great post Emilie & Michelle too, yup! :)

    • Emilie says:

      Oh absolutely. That’s the challenge of being a slasher/scanner/multipotentialite, learning how best to organize your life and which skills to monetize, which to leave as passion projects, etc. It’s the reason I started Puttylike. I wanted to learn how to take my multipotentiality and make it work for me. But it’s certainly something that takes some conscious work!

      I’m not denying that we tend to be scattered or disorganized or don’t have resistance/focus/anxiety problems. What I’m saying is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with having many interests. You just need good systems in place to make it work for you.

      Thanks for your input Layla!

  16. Add mine to the list of voices disagreeing with Mars. He’s welcome to his opinion, but there are too many examples that prove him wrong (such as the ones you’ve pointed to, Emilie)

    That said, not ALL multi-passionates are going to excel at their various pursuits… but neither or sole-interest folks all going to excel at theirs! And automatically condemning people for having slashed titles seems a rather silly exercise.

    (It sure got a lot of blog comments, though, I’ll give it that!)

    I agree that finding a larger umbrella under which to define yourself is probably a benefit for anyone trying to have a successful career. But I would hesitate to make a blanket statement that ANYTHING will lead to either disaster OR success! I just think we’re too complex for that to make much sense.

    Ultimately, find what works for you. Period.

    • Emilie says:

      Well said, Melissa. Some scanners are perfectly happy NOT excelling at every pursuit. And who cares? As long as they’re happy and find a way to make it work for them, that’s cool.

      And I completely agree, there’s no one way to live. As someone who shares your thoughts and advice online, do you find this to be a tricky line to walk at times? I often want to say “this is a good approach, buuuut do what works for you,” however, you don’t want to totally dilute your message by sounding unsure of yourself either. That doesn’t help anybody.

      Ultimately I think it comes down to talking about your own experiences and what’s worked for you rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all solution. What do you think?

  17. I agree. When it comes right down to it, the only thing anyone can speak to with total authority is really their own experience.

    Sharing what’s worked (and not worked) for you can be incredibly helpful, and in fact I think it’s a lot *more* helpful than prescribing a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Just my 2 cents.

    So go out and share your experience — THAT’S the solution! ;)

  18. Annie says:

    Super big props to you, Emilie.

    I know how hard it is to express your opinion when it clashes with that of someone you consider a friend–I recently had the same problem with an old friend. I just had to ball up.

    And I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. Mars seems like a good enough guy, but to be honest, his post sounded just like more of the “The Question” propaganda we got force-fed back in elementary school.

    I really prefer being the way I am. Does that make me ignorant? Does that mean I’m not going to be successful? Pah!

    Besides that, I feel like Mars’ post came off as an attack on “slashers.” I found the entire thing to be incredibly offensive.

    I know he’s lost a lot of fans by publishing that post.

    Maybe you have, too.

    But it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. For that, no matter who is “right” here, I salute both of you.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Annie. I appreciate that!

      It’s never been a debate over whether multipods are BETTER than specialists or vice versa. We both exist and we’re both needed. As long as we allow each other to do our thing(s), there’s no problem. I just wasn’t exactly feeling that respect in Mars’ initial post, ya know? That’s what got to me.

      Thanks for throwing in your two cents.

  19. Rob says:

    I think I understand a bit from where Mars is coming from. I don’t totally disagree with him, but perhaps the delivery was a bit harsh. His premise seems to be to utilize a wide-variety of skills and transform that into your legacy project. I think, perhaps, that this legacy is meant to mean something of a grander scale than just, say, one sole career path. This community, for instance, was the culmination of your web design prowess, community-building, artistic, logic, sense of empathy, coaching abilities, writing, networking, etc. etc. It can contribute towards your larger legacy of what you keep building.

    I disagree, though, on what he seems to think the legacy ultimately is. Is it a sole entity? Perhaps for some. I have a wide variety of talents that I would like to eventually draw upon towards a project. But I will not be satisfied with that sole project- I plan on working towards multiple legacies. I do appreciate, however, that this path is not for everyone and that some people are perfectly content mastering a sole capability.

    It’s great to stir the pot once in a while, Em. And I think this post rightly did so. Moreover, it caused you to reflect and reiterate everything that you’ve grown to accept. It also afforded the wider community the same opportunity. For that alone, you (and everyone else) should be very proud.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Rob,

      I agree with you. I saw where Mars was going with it once he explained himself a bit. I don’t think his point came across in the initial post though. Kind of got lost in all the talk of vomit and foot shootings…

      I agree with you though that you don’t need to only have one project that your life “stands for”. But each project on its own can have a synthesized theme. That’s not a bad idea. Actually, finding a common thread between multiple skills/interests is a lot of what I do with my students. Nothing wrong with that.

      It’s more the one-size-fits all prescription that bothered me about his post. Nobody should be made to feel that due to wanting to excel in many areas or pursue many careers, their impending failure is inevitable. That’s just not true! There are too many examples proving otherwise.

      Thanks for the comment. :)

  20. Angela says:

    This may be covered in the comments (no time to read them all), but I think the sting against scanners is the list of seemingly unrelated skills all jumbled together. Emilie has talked before about finding an underlying philosophy to tie together what all you’re good at, so as long as you show a relationship between your skills you might not overwhelm or confuse others as much. I hope that makes sense.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Angela (and Emilie),

      “…the list of seemingly unrelated skills all jumbled together. Emilie has talked before about finding an underlying philosophy to tie together what all you’re good at, so as long as you show a relationship between your skills you might not overwhelm or confuse others as much.”

      We go to school as kids, and we learn that math is separate from history which is a totally different thing than English. And yet, the problems in today’s world are complex, we cannot afford to go on pretending things are separate (e.g. that the economy is separate from the environment or human rights)

      I support simplifying understanding and finding unifying threads as much as possible. I also understand (and experience) that modern life consists of being exposed to more and more information competing for our investment of time, effort, money, energy, etc.

      However, the fact that this makes the best “sound bite” the winner…is that really a good thing?

      What does it say about us (society) that people are unwilling to take the time and make the effort to understand complex or uncertain information?

      I dislike bamboozling (or using big words just to sound smart) but is it truly in everyone’s benefit, long-term, if we are reducing things to a sound bite in order to sell a product, when that does not do it justice because the issue truly is a complex one?

  21. Lem says:

    Interesting. I’ve somehow managed to not come across ANY such complaints (maybe it’s because I come from a liberal arts college, where people prioritize breadth over depth, and are actively encouraged to become Renaissance people?)

    I’m actually a specialist (writer and I suppose Internetter, if that’s even a thing) aiming to become better skilled at more things than just writing, because *putting all my eggs in one basket has not served me all that well*. So far, I’ve specialized because I come from Hong Kong and the education system there encourages specialization at an early age (choosing Arts or Sciences at Grade 10, narrowing that down to 3 subjects in Grade 12, and picking a specialized course like Marketing or Business Management at the college level).

    But what I’ve realized is that *most jobs call for skills in many different areas*. Especially in the advent of new media, it’s not enough to just be a good writer, you also have to be a good multimedia artist or self promoter or whatever.

    …Yeah, I feel like those comments you posted are just specialists trying to make themselves feel better :/

    • Emilie says:

      Wow, that’s so interesting Lem. I think it’s great that you’re actively trying to become more versatile.

      Actually, I believe it’s Michael Martine who has this theory that all people are born multipotentialites. And depending on the environment we’re raised in, we may continue on as scanners or be encouraged to specialize.

      I find that so much of my own growth in the last few years has been about getting back to who I was as a child, before society began instilling all these false beliefs and insecurities.

      I bet it won’t be very hard for you to embrace your multipotentiality. The drive to push yourself and explore is really what it’s all about, and it sounds like you already have that. :)

  22. Juventud says:

    I was going through the posts and came across this one, only to realize that I am a Multipotentialite..darn! I wasn’t even aware of this term before. The fact that some years down the road my peers will have lucrative careers, kinda always gave me goosebumps. I was always scared that I am not doing anything good with myself. I have dissed many potentially good careers for myself looking for something more intresting as a career but couldn’t stick to one. Now i feel a little confident that I am not alone. And yes this is not our problem but society’s. But I am always scared as to what i will do for a living when i get old. Folks forgive me for my bad grammar as english is not my 1st language.

  23. Daniel says:

    I guess I’m a slasher without really knowing about it. There is something to be said for picking one or two things to get really good at, but as long as people do what they love I don’t see any reason to bother them… Anyway, I like your blog, I just discovered you through twitter.
    Daniel.

  24. V says:

    I think I would much rather be someone who is actively interested in learning as much about this world as I possibly can and trying as many different things as possible before I die than be someone who is perfectly okay with settling. Some people are okay with doing nothing at all with their lives (I know, there are a lot of them around me all the time, some are friends or family), just getting up every day to do the same thing. Eat, work, watch TV or play video games, complain, do it all over again. I only have one chance to actually experience life. I don’t get to choose one thing this life, then start over with a new one next life (or maybe I do, but I don’t remember any past lives). Those obviously aren’t the only two types of people in the world, but for me, I am happy with my path.

    I also want to say how horrible it is to hate on an entire group of people. Just because you do things differently, don’t understand, and/or don’t agree, doesn’t mean you are the right one and we are wrong (and therefore should be beaten down and punished for being who we are). This has been happening all through history, and it’s not okay. Prejudice is prejudice, and in this day and age, it cannot be tolerated.

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