How Specialists Help Make Us Better Multipotentialites
Photo courtesy of Craig Anderson.

How Specialists Help Make Us Better Multipotentialites

Written by Emilie

Topics: Creativity

I was working with one of my coaching students a couple weeks back, and the topic of Paleo came up (she has interests in health too). I mentioned that I’d been blissfully submerging myself in all kinds of podcasts, books and blogs about the Paleo lifestyle.

Then my student said something that caused me to pause for a moment: “But see, you’re into Paleo, and that’s quite specific.”

Well, for one thing, Paleo is actually a pretty broad subject that encompasses many facets of life (nutrition, exercise, lifestyle), and is a total smoosh of evolutionary theory and modern-day science. But lets leave that aside for a moment, becuase she got me thinking.

Just because you’re a multipotentialite, that doesn’t mean that the only content you consume is created my other multipods.

Often it is. I do tend to prefer disciplines that exist in the intersections. (It’s no coincidence that when choosing a gym here in Portland, I was drawn to the Green Microgym.)

But yes, even within Paleo, I appreciate that there are experts, scientists, and academics out there writing books on the subject. When I was learning jazz guitar several years back, I appreciated that my teacher was a stellar musician, who had clearly devoted his life to jazz guitar. And when I was in law school, it was nice to learn about contracts from someone who lived, breathed and ate contracts (ew).

I’m grateful to specialists because they help me learn, which is something that multipotentialites love to do. In short, specialists make me a better multipotentialite.

Specialists Can Help Fuel Your Multipotentiality

Specialists can provide you with deep information to absorb– information that you can then take and synthesize with other ideas you got from other specialists. They can help you develop “good enough” skills that allow you to go further in your own projects.

Steve Jobs’ story illustrates this approach. He learned calligraphy, presumably from a specialist, and then took the ideas from that class and integrated them into his own project years later, to create beautiful typefaces for the Apple computer.

I could make a joke and say that specialists are simply there to entertain us. Heh. But the truth is that it works out nicely for us both. Specialists love digging deep and sharing their expert knowledge. Meanwhile, we love taking that knowledge, absorbing it, playing with it, and applying it elsewhere.

Sounds like a working relationship to me.

Your Turn

Has the work of specialists helped you develop as a multipotentialite?


  1. YES! I love this post. One is not better than the other and without each other, our lives wouldn’t be as amazing as they are. Art can’t exist without science. Introverts and extroverts balance each other out… same with creative and logical minded folks (I’m sure there’s a term for that but I can’t think of it).

    I agree, I love learning from specialists because they KNOW everything about something. I love partnering with my VA because she KNOWS how to set up an e-store, integrate with mailing lists and membership plugins. I get the gist, but I don’t need (or want) to be an expert. So it’s so helpful that she IS one in that one specific area.

    And now even, brainstorming a big revolutionary idea (nonprofit), I couldn’t make this happen without all the brilliant specialists out there. No way. :)

    • Emilie says:

      Absolutely, Stephenie. I didn’t even get into team work, but as you mentioned with regard to your VA, a multipotentialite paired up with a specialist can create magic.

  2. Stuart says:

    That’s how Apple came to be. Woz was the specialist with the circuit boards and engineering and Jobs took it to new levels.

  3. Renee says:

    I’m still exploring the idea of merging my many passions together, some I have put aside a while back, and almost forgot about them in the process (isn’t that funny forgetting your passion, whooh!?!), so I am back and forth between the world of drab, ruthless certainty, and the world of creating life by acknowledging one’s passion, but I can definitively say that learning from experts is the one constant in my life. I adore to learn from the best. And I think this is why Emilie is so great as she has acknowledged the right to be multi-faceted and learned to thrive as a whole person. Thanks for the illumination!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Japanese Embroidery. My mom got me started in Japanese Embroidery when I was eight years old, and wow, that is specialized… in Japan, if you’re an embroiderer, you REALLY live, eat, and breathe it for your whole life (in fact, if you aren’t born into an embroidering family, but want to become a master embroiderer, you practically have to marry into it). Even though I was good at it, and even though part of me really wanted to try apprenticing in Japan, that was exactly the problem – only part of me wanted to. Sitting, quietly stitching away for hours, every single day… it would have absolutely driven me crazy.

    At any rate, I continued embroidering regularly until I was probably 13-ish, and I currently have two projects that I’ve barely made any progress on since then (much to the annoyance of my teachers). Someday I’ll finish them, I’m sure.

    BUT. That exposure to Japanese culture and art has totally colored my art style. The different techniques have heightened my appreciation for unique textures. And without those specialists, whose entire lives are dedicated to Nuido (“the way of embroidery”), I would not be the same person I am now.

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