You know what was really frustrating for me when I was a kid? I was good at a lot of stuff. And I don’t say that to sound braggy. What I mean is, I was good at a lot of stuff – but I wasn’t great at any one thing. It was fine when I was quite young: at nine or ten I was considered really good at art, singing, writing, drama… Basically anything creative. And then as I got older I kept trying to pursue all of these things at once, so by the time I reached high school I was only good at these things and not really good like I had been at nine. Then I met people in my year who had been really good at one thing and had actively pursued that one thing and were now excellent. It all left me feeling a bit lost.
I’ve already discussed my thoughts on being a slashie (personal trainer slash makeup artist, read that here) but I think this might be a little different.
What is a multi-potentialite? It’s a term coined by Emilie Wapnick (there’s a fantastic Ted talk you can watch here) that is described as:
“An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavours or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.”
Are you a multi-potentialite? Are you the kind of person who picks up a hobby, for example photography, buys a camera and gets really into it for a few weeks or months, then suddenly discovers painting, buys an easel and paints and brushes and all the required paraphernalia and gets really into it for a couple of months and then discovers guitar… do you see where I’m going with this? If you’re nodding along right now and remembering all the discarded projects you were passionate about for a few months, congratulations: you are multi-potentialite.
And guess what? It’s actually a good thing. I started my working life in a cafe, serving coffee to strangers. Then I did the first year of a business degree. Then I decided to go and be a personal trainer. Then I decided I wanted to be a makeup artist too. I’m sure you could probably argue that I wasted my time on all the early stuff, that I would have been better off if I’d discovered earlier on that I was passionate about makeup (perhaps before getting myself into massive student debt) because then I could have just pursued that and would probably be further along than I am now.
But here’s the thing: working in a cafe taught me how to work fast and perform well under pressure, it also taught me how to provide exceptional customer service to people who basically were treating me like dirt. The first year at business school taught me so many things, I have a good understanding of contract law and commercial law, I know how business structures work and what creates a good culture, I know how to communicate professionally. Personal training has taught me how to run my own business, not quit when things get hard, pay my own taxes, relate to people and make them feel comfortable and understood.
So now, when I’m training people, thanks to working in that cafe I can provide exceptional customer service regardless of how I’m feeling. Thanks to Commercial Law 101, when I’m getting my clients to sign a contract before they start training with me, I know my contract is solid and is going to protect me and my business.
And when I’m working backstage on a fashion show, thanks to that cafe, I can work under pressure and stay calm. Thanks to personal training, when I’m doing makeup on someone I can make my client feel comfortable and motivate and inspire her so she feels better when she heads out the door for her big event. Thanks to running my own business, when I get handed a wad of cash after doing someone’s makeup, I know how much of that gets put away for tax.
Even if you don’t stick with your current interest, you can take what you learned from it into the next thing. You can go back to it later, or you could be a slashie and be two things at once. Just remember: it is never a waste of time to pursue something that you’re drawn to.
Are you a multi-potentialite? Do you know a multi-potentialite? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know!