A master of one, or a master of none?
What drives you to do the things you do in your life?
What if I were to tell you that the whole world has been lying to you about what you SHOULD be doing?
The premise of education, careers, and skills has been seduced by corporations and the government. The reason is actually a good thing, and not a conspiracy theory kind of thing.
During the industrial revolution we needed specialists to operate certain occupations and jobs, and so the schooling system was created in the form that is now. Created by a joint operation between companies and the government to educate a large mass of people to do the jobs. That the specialist mindset spreads like wildfire, and is what still is common today. However it is not only no longer as important, but in fact probably hindering our progress.
What is even more crucial to understand today, is that it probably is hindering YOUR progress. This is because generalists are important to society, and we are lacking the polymathic mindset in the workforce. People who display those tendencies often get neglected by the system, and to make matters worse are often forced out of their true nature to specialize. Problem is we need divergent skill sets more than ever.
NOTE: This is just ONE part of the Omni-Content Sprint that I do, meaning that if you like this blog post, then I encourage you to look at the accompanying: video, podcast, and slidedeck.
Are you a polymath, or at least a Jack of All Trades?
Now why would it matter. Why do I care. Why Should YOU care?
For one thing the idea of being a polymath is that of freedom. No longer do you have to stick to one decision for your life, and that is a really freeing notion. Additionally the idea of innovation calls for actually being knowledgeable in multiple areas, as the innovative mindset comes from the synergy of the dichotomy of ideas.
How is that the case?
Shouldn’t someone who is extremely well versed in a subject matter, be able to innovate it on their own? Sure, that is certainly a situation that has occurred. I’m sure it will keep happening, but it is not common, and we are getting to the point where careers are merging. i.e. nanotechnology, or biotechnology. Where knowledge in two or more fields is necessary for not only progression, but innovation as well.
That is what polymathy is about, the person who is a master of multiple fields.
Why is having more Polymaths Important?
Imagine a world full of Da Vincis…
What do you think you could accomplish as someone who is a “Specialist” in multiple fields. Imagine the vast amounts of innovation that could be found.
It just so happens that innovation and polymathy are my two favorite things. This exactly why I created “PolyInnovator”, named after both of those concepts.
I realized we needed more interdisciplinary people, and I wanted to help you become one.
Some would even say that a Self-Education endeavor is needed for something like this to happen.
The real thing to mention is that you have the potential. More than anything you can actually do this, and that is what I want to clarify first and foremost.
Not only do you have potential in one area, but you have it in multiple areas. You can do all that you want to in life, it is plenty long enough. There is another term I’d like you to know, multipotentialite, someone with the potential for many things.
If you want to know more, then check out this PolyCast interview I had with another polymath!
We talked about modern day potential in people, specifically in the light of polymathy. Although really in general!
One person whom we touched on multiple times in the episode was Leonardo Da Vinci. THE POLYMATH. One book by Michael Gelb, is How to Think like him. Here are the 7 takeaways from that book for your convenience.
How can YOU become one?
Becoming a polymath is not an overnight thing.
So many people think that being a generalist, or Jack of all trades, is something to be avoided because “you wouldn’t have enough knowledge to be helpful”. However that is completely further from the case.
Primarily, most people are more generalistic than they realize, especially when it comes to hobbies, or jobs they’ve had over their lives.
Additionally there is a real powerful thing that happens when you gain the width of knowledge of a generalist, then apply that knowledge towards your specialty. Width in addition to depth!
Things take time, especially good things, and so in order to become a polymath there are two paths ahead.
One of the general populace’s vision of it, and one that it is in reality.
The first is that you try to everything at once, if you have multiple skills, and trying to do all of them at once. Which if done for a couple decades would produce results, but it isn’t as fast.
Second one is more of a normal life actually, after a certain amount of time, say a decade or so; You pivot careers, change course, or pursue a new life skill. This is actually what most people end up doing in life anyways, and so many old people become polymaths without realizing it.
I personally believe in both being viable, but I think it takes a special person to be able to do the first one. Really you’d do both to be quite honest. Build up everything, AND pursue your current specialty.
This is an #OmniContent, which means it is a blog post, video, slideshow, polycast, and more. Please check out the other pieces of this post because despite it being the same “Content”, there is always going to be different things you can learn from the other forms of media!!
Scroll up to the video at the top, or scroll down for the polycast!
What is a Polymath
We talked about reasons why they’re cool or important, how you become one (at least in theory), but really WHAT IS a Polymath??
My personal definition is that of someone with quite a high level or even mastery in multiple areas (3 to 4 or more). When you achieve mastery in one area, you’re a specialist, and when you do that in two? Well you’re still a specialist, but people think you’re super niched down.
The crazy thing is that you’re double than most, but people see you as just someone in a super narrow window. The beauty of being someone of multiple areas, is that you can innovate more than most. You see the overlaps, the differences, and overall bigger picture in a new light.
A polymath is someone who can do that with MANY areas, as “Poly” simply means much or many in ancient Greek.
What is the difficulty of it? Well considering mastery comes from 8 to 10 thousand hours of practice, it is gonna take a while. No, don’t leave yet!
What you will need to do is think of your life as a big long story. How many chapters do you want? Do you want many awesome, yet different adventures? Or do you want one long boring story?
By asking yourself these questions, it will allow you to look back on your life from the end in mind.
Now when you’re mentally picturing yourself in the future please don’t think about the existential terror of dying! lol
Keep your focus on the looking back aspect, and imagine all the chapters throughout your life.
When doing this you can think about how different chapters lead into another, and how being a polymath seems more and more viable!
The next steps for global Polymathy
From the mind of your future, to the application of becoming one of many polymaths in the world (Even Steven Martin is one!). Global polymathy is a dream of mine. I want the world to be filled with renaissance individuals that are interdisciplinary.
What drives you to do the things you do in life? What are the areas of your forever interest?
Please share this post to help your friends learn what a polymath is!