First of all, a warm hello to all of the new multipotentialites who have joined us here at Puttylike in the last few days. My heart has been in a state of perpetual explosion, as hundreds of emails, tweets, and messages have rolled in. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. What an honour.
When I was selected to speak at TEDxBend last winter, I was thrilled. Then I was told that my talk had to be under 12 minutes. Gulp.
Typically a TED talk is 19 minutes or less, so I was a little thrown. The outline I had included in my application would need to be cut down dramatically.
The time constraint drove me a little mad as I was writing and refining my talk, but it ultimately led to a more impactful talk (and I did go over time, but, luckily, there were no shepherd hooks backstage to reel me in…)
The point of a TED talk is to share an “idea worth spreading.” It isn’t the place to go into great detail or offer a lot of How To’s. The speaking committee kept prodding me to narrow in on my idea worth spreading and cut anything that didn’t contribute to it directly. I finally landed on the catch phrase “embrace your inner wiring,” but really my idea worth spreading had more to do with the idea of the multipotentialite itself; that’s what I wanted people to walk away with.
Since everyone’s talking about the TED talk right now, I thought it would be a good time to write a post about the things I didn’t have time to say in my twelve minutes.
1. Embracing your multipotentiality is just the first step
People usually feel a profound sense of relief when they realize that there is nothing wrong with them, that they aren’t flaky or indecisive, they’re a multipod. It’s powerful to learn that there are many other multipotentialites out there, that it’s a good thing, and that it’s possible to be successful (an innovator, even)!
But once you realize that you’re a multipotentialite, and that you’re okay, there are often a slew of questions that follow. These questions tend to fall into three main categories: work, productivity, and confidence.
How will you get the variety you need into your life and career? How will you make time in your life for your many passions? How will you deal with self-doubt, the fear of not being taken seriously, or the people in your life who don’t understand?
I see career, productivity, and confidence, as the three largest multipotentialite challenges. These are areas we each need to address and find workable solutions to.
2. In order to flourish, multipotentialites need three ingredients in their lives: variety, meaning, and money
While researching the book I’m writing now, I interviewed a lot of multipotentialites who self-described as being both happy and financially comfortable. They all had something in common: they had lives and careers that provided them with variety, meaning (a sense of contribution), and money. Each of these ingredients had to be present in the amounts that were right for them.
Money and meaning aren’t requirements that are unique to multipotentialites. Specialists need them too. But variety? That one’s pretty multipod-specific, and we’re lacking resources. There aren’t many career counsellors or guides that can help you design a career that contains variety. Usually they help you narrow your choices, not broaden them.
3. There is no one ideal career for a multipotentialite, but there are four work models that are commonly used to get variety into ones life
While conducting my interviews, I realized very quickly that there are some surprisingly predictable ways in which multipotentialites make money. They tend to fall into one or more of the following categories:
Work Model #1. The Group Hug Approach: one multifaceted job or business. This might mean working at a startup or organization that is forward-thinking and wants you to be involved with several facets of the business. It could also mean running a Renaissance Business.
Work Model #2. The Slash Approach: several distinct jobs, businesses, or revenue streams. The slash approach works best for people who like switching between radically different subjects on a frequent basis.
Work Model #3. The Einstein Approach: one day job or business that you enjoy and that provides you with stability as well as time and creative energy to explore your interests on the side (Barbara Sher refers to this as the Good Enough job). Albert Einstein worked at the patent office. This was a notoriously slow-paced job, but it paid his bills, provided him with benefits and left him with plenty of free time to work on his theories.
Work Model #4. The Sequential Approach: diving into one field for several years and eventually switching gears to begin a new career in a different field. This approach works best for multipotentialites who prefer focusing on one thing at a time and diving in deep before moving on to the next. It doesn’t work as well for plate-spinners who like having many different projects on the go at once.
Note: it’s okay to pick and choose elements of each of these models, blend them, or take some time with one before moving on to the next. Many of us are hybrids. They’re just delineated this way to give you a place to start, but I wouldn’t DARE tell you to choose just one. 😉 Anyway, it’s not necessary.
As you can see, there was no way I was going to fit all of that plus everything I DID say into the twelve minutes. But here on the blog we can, and do, unpack these issues. I also dive much deeper into this stuff in my book, How to Be Everything.