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Are you a multipotentialite, too?

By Kay Hannaford

Someone has finally come up with a name for people like me and I’m thrilled. Anyone else wonder what you want to do when you grow up? Join the tribe!

Multipotentialites, that’s what we’re called. People who change direction a number of times, often get bored when they’ve mastered something or learned /achieved as much as they want to and start looking for the next thing.

I’ve been thinking about this because my brother Robert is having a major exhibition of his life’s work at the Art Gallery of South Australia. I’m bursting with pride and admiration for his artistic achievements and his sheer perseverance, practicing daily a calling he’s had since early childhood to make sense of the world through his art.

I’ve also been reflecting on how, as kids, we sat together at the kitchen table drawing and colouring in for hours on end, even winning prizes in the Sunday Mail Possums Pages colouring competitions.

While he remained faithful to this calling, honing his skills all over his school books and on any other available surface, I discovered that I also liked writing and playing the piano. Then I learned to cook and knit and crochet and design and sew my own clothes, play guitar and, later, flute. In other words, I was drawn to diverse interests and creative pursuits and he was rightfully labeled ‘the artist’’.

So, while he has devoted his life to his art, I’ve evolved through a series of careers and roles including teacher, driving instructor, nanny, advertising salesperson, television producer, entrepreneur, tour guide, PR consultant, writer, management consultant, board director, art therapist, executive coach and mentor. In retrospect, establishing and running businesses has been by far the most creative thing I’ve done (so far) but I also love taking photographs, making mosaics, cooking, embroidery, playing with plasticine and colouring in (again).

At times, I’ve felt confused and little embarrassed about this apparent lack of clear focus even though I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed (and learned an enormous amount from) every single role I’ve had. However, now that I’ve found the tribe of multipotentialites, I’m feeling elated about what’s possible in the future.

The wonderful Emilie Wapnick has a website www.puttylike.com where you can find out more about multipotentialites. You can actually join up to receive reassurance and ideas for how to optimise your creativity and integrate all your disparate talents. Yippee!

Wapnick offers this definition:

” A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.
Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).
Multipotentialites thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. We are excellent at bringing disparate ideas together in creative ways. This makes us incredible innovators and problem solvers.
When it comes to new interests that emerge, our insatiable curiosity leads us to absorb everything we can get our hands on. As a result, we pick up new skills fast and tend to be a wealth of information”.

So if the cap fits, wear it with pride!

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It’s not just multipotentialites who are unsure about their career options, future direction or simply what to do next. It’s one of the most vexing questions that many of us face at some point in our careers.

So, as our contribution to making people’s working lives more fulfilling, Andrew Stevens of Uncharted Leadership and I are offering a FREE half day event “Finding Meaningful Work” on 27th September from 9:00am – 12:00pm.

If you or anyone you know would find this helpful, register now at http://findingmeaningfulwork.eventbrite.com.au.


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