TL:DR | [MASSIVE RESOURCE] Whether you find Multipotentialite appealing, polymathy to be the dream, or just want to be more of a generalist. Understanding Multidisciplinary terms is key to understanding yourself deeper. Check out this finale episode of the Mini Series the Multidisciplinary Spectrum!
Here is a video relation to this post, as well as the PolyCast!
The Multidisciplinary Spectrum is a collection of terms based around the specialists and generalists of society. From the novicely jack of all trades to the Da Vincian Polymaths.
Where are you on the spectrum, and do you consider yourself to be a generalist, specialist or polymath?
In this finale post I believe you will find your answer, whether you know it now or not, and seeing this chart with all these terms will help a lot. The reason behind me creating this is to help people identify where they are on the scale of knowledge. It isn't a competition, but rather a spectrum of people, and helpful for employers as well to identify their "unicorns" in their companies. If you read this far in the series, then you know that people like us are everywhere.
Find out more in this grand finale of my first OmniContent Mini series! It is all about being multidisciplinary, and finding yourself on the spectrum so stick around!
You will find that this post is a MASSIVE resource!
This is purely because of the concept itself, as well as the list of links I share at the bottom. I did this for each episode with the links pertaining to each one. However I decided to put them ALL in this one at the end. To make it easier for you, so you will also find a playlist on YouTube with all the videos in this series, including one of me explaining the spectrum, as well as ALL of the videos in the various posts just listed out in the playlist.
You can find that right here:
The Multidisciplinary Spectrum, previously known as the Polymath Spectrum for a short time, is a curated spread of terms related to being multidisciplinary. Whether it is the infamous Jack of all trades, the glorified Polymath, the octopus-like multipotentialite, or even the renaissance person.
They all come together!
The only thing you need to do when reading or watching this episode is just think about yourself. Seriously, that is what I need YOU to do, and find what term you most identify with. Perhaps it is specialist, which is a bit counter-intuitive to the theme of this blog, but if that is the case then all the more power to you.
The primary purpose is to have you as the viewer be able to find a term you identify with, so that it positions you on the scale of knowledge and specialties. Then you can figure out where to go from there.
If you liked this content, and want to know more about being multidisciplinary then subscribe to this blog or the YouTube channel, or both!
Why is it important to find a term that fits you?
You could be just getting out of high school, or perhaps have gone through four careers in your life. The scale of years of your life doesn't matter if you don't have an identity. I'm not assuming anything about your life, but you have lived your life until this point where you were curious about this post/series.
You took your first step towards finding your Multidisciplinary life!
I felt compelled to pursue my dreams, and all of my various interests growing up. I was lucky there was a bit of a non-conformist in me. There are a lot of "rules", taboo actions, and just purely a having a multidisciplinary mindset is often misunderstood.
Even by other generalists.
It isn't their fault, we are raised in a society that endorses niching down. Hell even as a content creator we are told niche down, even when that isn't true to who YOU are. You must resist the conformity because there are greater doors ahead of you when you branch out.
How do I use the Spectrum?
The point of it is to give you the knowledge of various terms of being multidisciplinary. Allowing you to identify one that fits you best, then you can attach it to yourself. Allowing you to feel more accepted for who you are, and realizing that pursuing many things IS OKAY.
Taking the idea of LEVELING UP to another Level.
In this article (linked in image), it talks about the various levels of polymathy that this historian concluded. Passive, Limited, Serial, "Proper", all of which focus on the idea that polymathy is achieved at various levels. Meaning that you can technically be one even if you are not quite that far along yet.
The issues with that is the ego that can form, and how others perceive it. This is where I think many people should invest some time in learning marketing, and building a personal brand. That way they can explain themselves better.
If you notice the various levels also correspond to other terms that I list in the Spectrum. Of which if you haven't seen the other episodes yet, they will be listed below!
The passive polymaths are more like the T-shaped person, having one big with a wide range. Often jack of all trades fall under this area too.
Bridging the jack of all trades and the generalist is the limited polymath.
The next I find really interesting because it is the thesis of something I talk about a lot on various podcasts I go onto. The idea that over the course of your lifetime you gradually move onto the next big specialty, and so by the end or most of the way; Then you have become an expert in many areas. Becoming a polymath over time.
The final I find the most fascinating because that is the "proper" polymath, "true" polymath, or even as I refer to it the "Universalist Polymath". Someone with many deep areas all juggling at once, but successfully. The best example I can give is Da Vinci of course!
Here are all of the Terms to look out for
Let it be known that I am not dictating whether you should be in a certain role, place, knowledge level, or being dismissive of unique circumstances.
On average people of various terminologies below are at the levels of knowledge that I portrayed in the following chart (and in the video).
I based the scale off of what I have seen across the board, from interviewing polymathic people of all levels, talking to peers, and learning from the Polymath researchers.
Note: I may have missed some terms in this mini-series, or skipped over them as they have a similar one in this list. Those being Scanners, Linky-brains, Universalist, Sprezzatura, PolyHistor, etc. Usually I did put them in quotes in the chart.
The potential to do many things, and the curiosity of it driving the force forward. Could be Linky-Brains, could be octopotentialite, however I see it as the start of something more.
Some would maybe say that Multi's are around the Generalist level of knowledge, or more over just a state of being. Like being Multidisciplinary is often a lifestyle, rather than a descriptor or title.
I see it as the precursor to the Jack of all trades because like the JoAT, the Multi's have all their hands in all of the cookie jars. Experimenting, crossdiscipline thinking, and exploring their interests. It is beautiful.
Jack and Jill of All Trades
"but oftentimes BETTER than a master of one", as the saying fully goes. In this episode we talked about the misconceptions of being a JoAT, and why it is okay to pursue your various curiosities.
The belief is that if you spread yourself too thin, then you lose the depth that achieves value. However value can ALSO be attained through cross-disciplinary logic, and transcontextual thinking. Those of which you get when learning about many areas, and then comparing/contrasting them.
As you level up through the spectrum, then you go deeper in your main areas.
It is human nature to be a generalist, and this is something we explore in that term's episode. From the birth of humanity's civilization and migration, to the modern internet era. Generalists are the key to humanity's future.
Bold words, but they are true. Specialists have their roles too, but in the past 100 years have dominated the society.
Gentleman Scholar (+ Autodidact and Dilettante)
A term many people usually don't know, even in the polymath world. It harkens back to the days of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
An idea to be someone of high standard, both intellectually, and as a gentleman. This goes for other genders too, but originated by men. The idea often goes into the thought of someone who spends all their time learning.
Choosing to spend time learning more and more, but not necessarily doing much with it. This is an issue because pretty much every skill requires you to get out of your comfort zone, out of the learning environment, and learn by trial of fire.
People who are multidisciplinary or specialized can fall trap to this mentality, so just be aware!
The true philosophy of polymathy I would say, as a Renaissance man is someone who knows it all. Now semantically "knowing all" does mean something different now, for that would be an "omnimath" if you will.
However back in the days of the Italian Renaissance, it was theoretically possible to know all there was to know. At least to the degree of standard knowledge. Usually things like math or science it was only through experimentation and calculations that you could learn those areas. Rarely did you learn it in school, which is why Leonardo Da Vinci had to examine corpses in order to learn anatomy and ocular science.
Nowadays, with so much knowledge in the world, and the boundless/endless areas of specialized knowledge. You can't be a master of everything, although you could perhaps be a novice/JoAT level in everything. All the while still having time in life to master a few areas.
A person of wide ranging knowledge and/or learning, that is what it means to be a polymath. However how do you become one? This series was almost named The Polymath Spectrum after all, and it is a term that many find suits their lifestyle best. Although we gotta be careful because it takes time and effort to become one, regardless of how many areas, or how deep.
There seems to be a common understanding that it takes at least three areas, and even up to four or five.
Drawing upon a multitude of complex bodies of knowledge.
There are some great researchers in this space, that are trying to figure out how do we define a polymath? Especially in the now, as many "polymaths" were named such posthumously.
This is more of a personal one, as I use that word as a second name for myself. Although I feel that in a 100 years if someone felt compelled to use that term it would make sense. Probably more so than polymath or polyhistor. Simply because innovation has become the game changer in the world.
Whoever is "most innovative" is the one who is most successful. Hence why many people go into specialties to find the deepest areas of that field, then to try and innovate it. Ironically most of those discoveries have been made, and now the best way to innovate is to use transcontextual thinking. Using your knowledge of other areas to help your specialty.
The PolyInnovator, or polymath of innovation ideal, is to be a contributing factor to many fields over the course of my life.
One could say that all generalists/polymaths are naturally innovative, sure, but that doesn't mean they are striving towards that.
This is a bit more of a hotly debated one, as it is like the Da Vincian level, or a "true" polymath. Someone who has MASTERED many areas, not just an expert level, as the other Polymath would typically be around skill wise.
I like to think of it as the ultimate goal in a way, or perhaps a person with many (3-4 on average) DEEP areas of specialty. On top of that has a jack of all trades width in countless other areas. Taking the "T-Shaped" person to another level, if a T-shaped person is one tree, then the U.P. is multiple trees. A "forest of knowledge" if you will.
Here are the slides to my Multidisciplinary Spectrum Talk I did
You can use it to find where you fit in the world, and how you can progress forward in your various specialities.
Although I am sure that some viewpoints may not sit well with some, or perhaps the hyper-specialists will disagree. To is their own. I wanted to help those who haven't discovered their Multidisciplinary super powers yet, or perhaps they have and they think they "can't focus".
It isn't about focus, it is about managing time well enough to do all the things you want to do.
You will need grit to push past societal norms, as for the past 100 years it has been the century of the specialist. The best way to get it is through practice, and the compound effect. The more you do, then the stronger you become. That goes for any self-development though in life, for think of it like pushing a boulder up a mountain. Eventually you'll become as strong as Heracules!
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Whether you are just starting out on your journey we call life, or you have been going at it for decades and now finally have a word for how to explain yourself. Either way you are just that one step closer to fulfilling all of the potential and Ikigai.
Take a moment today to see where you fit! Are you a generalist, a specialist, a bi or tri specialist, or even a polymath?
Thank you for taking the time today to check out this AWESOME article, and the finale to my first OmniContent mini-series. Which is probably why it was so long, so good job making it through.
All you gotta do now is explore more, learn more, it doesn't matter your level there are tons of resources below that I know at least one is going to be helpful to you.
All of the Multidisciplinary Spectrum Mini Series Links:
I tried to organize them a bit, and all of the videos to the best of my ability (some got deleted in the time from conception to production of this series) are on the video playlist. All of the articles/videos from all of the episodes are here, so that you don't have to try and find them all.
WARNING: There are a LOT of links here, and I have a strong gaming rig. When I first found all of these I had around 600 tabs open to get through them all. I highly suggest doing them 1-3 at a time. You don't want to overload your PC, as even with my strong PC I had it lagging, and even crashing at one point! haha
I have no particular order to this list, as everything had its place. So I'd say follow your curiosity first, and then try to go to all.
Here is the playlist again for the videos!
Pro tip: Speed up the videos to 1.5x or even 2x speed so you can get through them quicker!
New ones from this OmniContent:
A Series from one of my Polycasts Guests, as this is how I found him even!
These were my thoughts to this article:
I do not think it is about "Knowing Everything", that is an Omnimath, which is theoretically impossible now. It is about the tools that we use (like it says in the article), as well as learning as much as we can/want in life. We can learn so many areas, to a very deep degree, thanks to the advent of the internet. We are living in a more polymathic era, than ever before. -Dustin M. PolyInnovator
Looking back, I can see why this series took me so long. I thought it solely was due to my procrastination, or even laziness, but to be fair to myself this was A LOT to go through. I am forever glad I did, and I truly hope you learned something valuable today!