Before he grew wise to the notion of multipotentiality, my husband would often tease about my ever-shifting curiosities. I became familiar with the Scottish novel The Wind in the Willows because he insisted I had the same brain as the character Mr. Toad.
Toad is an anthropomorphized wealthy frog who becomes completely obsessed with the next new thing. Toad has no shame about moving on when his latest pursuit no longer interests him—which is a skill I, myself, have yet to master.
Mr. Toad’s buddies, Mole, Rat, and Badger worry that these obsessions will ruin the amphibian. Might I suggest that all of Toady’s animal friends take a front row seat for Emilie’s TED Talk, then mind their own paws!
I would be remiss if I did not confess that, from time to time, I too worry about my Toad-like brain. To still my mind, or help focus my attentions, I engage an assortment of activities. Meditation, conversations with trusted friends, or quiet journaling all help me prioritize and weed out the passing fancy ideas from the ones I should actually pursue.
When I become obsessed with too many ideas and can’t let go of any of them, I use other tools to help whittle things down to achievable size. Since I lean heavily toward the sequential side of the multipotentialite spectrum, I do my best work when I embrace one idea at a time. Grabbing a few books on whatever the subject has me enraptured works. If I find my eyes constantly drifting aways from the page, then the concept is a temporary preoccupation. If I finish the book, the new interest has merit.
But reading can be time consuming. While I love to dive into a good title, there are days when the clock is ticking and I can’t sit with any book – even the ones that hold my attention.
My husband loves a good masterclass. He’s a specialist who always has some video lesson playing to help him deepen a skill for his chosen profession. I’ve paid for my fair share of Skillshares and video courses that I don’t ever complete. I simply don’t have the discipline to stare at other people doing things that I’m not actually doing myself.
So, when I need to make a decision and I only have the capability to invest time and energy into one option, I turn to podcasts.
I can listen in on a podcast while engaging other responsibilities—washing the dinner dishes, walking my dogs, or shampooing my growing collection of wigs. I head to my chosen platform, type in my latest craze—be it sustainable farming or sound bathing, textile design or teaching others to design a life they’ll love—and tune in.
Listening to folks who are already knee-deep in the profession or hobby that sparks my curiosity allows me to get a sense of the pitfalls ahead or the glories that await.
I tend to plunge into podcasts when my life is in need of a major pivot and I don’t know which direction will make the most sense. The last time was a couple years back, in 2019. Holland, where I live, had me head over hills in love with floral design. I listened to podcasts about running a flower business. I learned the different systems florists use to manage client projects. I discovered the many angles I could approach for a new life in flowers—buy some land and grow from seed (maybe), write about flowers and florists as a blogger (possibly), become a floral photographer (most likely to succeed).
I tried the latter option for a while. Filling my house with blooming buds, ready to make gorgeous floral portraits, I quickly discovered I was completely allergic to the most affordable and accessible varieties. Geez!
I tried working with artificial leaves and silk recreations for a while, but fake flowers just didn’t do it for me. While flower portraits were behind me, I still had my camera and needed to figure out what kind of photographer I would be. So I listened to more podcasts.
Street photographers, their practice felt too invasive. Food photography felt phony for me; I love to eat, but can’t be bothered with cooking. Documentary photography wouldn’t allow me to make things up. Who wants to live without a touch of fiction?
After listening to a number of interviews with narrative photographers, I finally began to feel at home. I also began to abandon whatever domestic thing I was doing and purely listen whenever a podcast episode featured narrative photography. Bingo! I had uncovered my new direction.
Podcasts did not exist when our friend Mr. Toad graced the halls of his estate, with its magnificent collection of the latest fads. Toady had to wait for his next new thing to literally pass him by—a boat, a horse-drawn caravan, or a fancy motorcar. But you, multipotentialite friends, have the modern day benefit of the podcast.
You don’t have to settle for being a podcast listener alone. Becoming a podcaster is a cool way to explore the various topics that interest you. Three members of the Puttyverse, co-host a podcast called The MultiPod. Hosts Ted Cragg, Vanessa Hennessey, and Flo Stummer featured Puttylike founder Emilie Wapnick in episode 069, and have profiled many other happy generalists across the dozens of episodes published since they began two years ago.
If you’re looking for more multipod-friendly content, NPR has a show called “How To Do Everything”. Their hosts cover a wide range of topics from how to open a “Velcro bag quietly” to how to “write gooder” or “how to listen to someone describe their dream.” I sent the dream episode to my spouse 😉
Still not sure where to go next? You can always browse podcasts to check out what’s not being done. Has your new interest already oversaturated the marketplace? Or is there a vacancy that only you can fill? Are you meshing together some unique idea that no one is really talking about yet? If yes, then you might be onto a fresh and exciting new idea. I’m already ready to tune in!
Have you listened to podcasts to try out a new hobby or entrepreneurial endeavor? Recommend your favorites for other multipotentialite listeners. Do you host a podcast yourself? Let us know in the comments.