I once met someone, a multipotentialite, who had had an intimidatingly impressive career. He had worked as a spy at an organization that is known by its 3-letter acronym, which I was asked not to repeat. He had an MBA and built huge businesses, he scuba dived. He was the kind of person I didn’t meet often, but he was kind and open, and the more he shared, the more curious I became.
During our conversation, he said something that stuck with me more than his specific accomplishments. He said: “I like doing hard things.”
People often assume that multipotentialites quit when something gets too hard. I’ve found that, in most cases, it’s the opposite. We quit when something is no longer challenging, when it becomes too easy.
This isn’t true of every multipotentialite, but it’s a pattern I’ve seen repeated in many. We crave challenge, and once we reach a level of mastery, we want to do something radically different, something that’s challenging in a new way.
This was partly what drew me to law school. It was hard, new, and rigorous. It’s part of why I loved preparing and delivering my TEDx talk — that was incredibly difficult. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Of course, a new area can’t just be difficult for us to want to pursue it. It also needs to fascinate in some way.
Maybe we’re just masochists. Or maybe we’re on to something.
Are you drawn to subjects or projects that are particularly difficult?