Are Polymaths Born or Made?

TL:DR | Is this another chicken and the egg situations? What comes first? Are polymathic people trained to be that way, or are they naturally inclined to be this way?

2 min read
Are Polymaths Born or Made?

Creating the life you want to live is the challenge we all face, but what if we are naturally multidisciplinary?

Not only individually, but even as a species? Generalism has been with humanity since our inception. Yet, over the last 100 years we have as a society focused solely on the specialists.

Over time however, either through entrepreneurship, or going against the grain in some way. Generalists have thrived on their own accord, and become polymaths. We saw this with people like Steve Jobs, Donald Glover, Dr Merritt Moore, and even more.

Is it a natural inclination or product of multiple careers?

I think there is both. I know that many in the polymath community (including the multipotentialites and generalist groups), they believe it is more of natural state.

Meaning that you are "born that way". However I think it goes beyond that, and you can create yourself INTO a polymath.

There are a lot of people I find that actually do this, and maybe they are naturally polymathic, but they do not see themselves as such. Thus that dissonance of having multiple expertise or careers, but not concluding they are indeed a polymath. Makes them not born that way, they just came into that life through their choices on their own path.

The Designation of What IS a Polymath?

There are plenty of researchers and even a few content creators like myself, that are trying to define what it means to be a polymath.

One consensus that is clear is that the person is an expert in 3 or more areas. Maybe not the best in their field per se, but certainly deeply knowledgeable well above the rest in those areas.

The other criteria is that they are insatiably curious. Making anyone who's an autodidact or generalist, well on their way to becoming a polymath. At least from my point of view.

What is the answer?

Personally I don't have the right answer, but I do think that yes people like us are born that way. There is a natural curiosity that you can't fake. Although a wise man once told me that Curiosity is a skill. Perhaps the polymathic simply are better at resisting outside pressure to conform.

Basically allowing for that particular skill to flourish.

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