Being a multipotentialite: Believing it’s OK to follow multiple passions

Heading over to the Gold Coast this month for the Problogger conference gave me the usual massive dose of new knowledge and vital inspiration. I’ve got more to talk about it in future posts but the single most important part was the keynote address from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike. She pioneered the term multipotentialite and basically I love her for it!

What is a multipotentialite, I hear you ask?

The best introduction to Emilie’s theories is this TED talk – do spend a very useful 12 minutes watching it, because I’m fairly certain you won’t be disappointed.

Basically, a multipotentialite is a person following more than one different interest or passion. For many years I felt (as this was the advice given all over the place) that I needed to really pick a specific niche to work in, rather than being a blogger, freelance writer, social media trainer, blogging consultant, speaker, podcaster and … yep, all those different things.

In fact, my problems started way before that: back at school I loved both English and maths; my teachers all pushed me towards engineering or medicine and I was trying to fight back with my creative side and I ended up doing a very muddled Science degree with three minors (mathematics, social ecology and marketing).

 Emilie Wapnick - definition of multipotentialite

Emilie Wapnick at Problogger speaking about being a multipotentialite

I’ve followed Emilie’s work for a while, but it wasn’t until having her there right in front of me that I finally listened to what she had to say. It is actually OK for me to continue following multiple interests – maybe it’s even better than OK, it’s actually very beneficial both for me and my clients/readers/listeners.

What it means to be a multipotentialite

I particularly loved this interview with Emilie on Jeff Goins’ podcast. On here she said something particularly wise:

Multipotentialites don’t usually quit when things get hard, they quit when things get too easy.

This sums me up completely, in a way that makes so much sense, but I’d never understood it properly before. It explained why until recently, the job I stayed in the longest was my part-time student job at KFC, and that my career path from then until I moved home from abroad, I needed to change jobs regularly to keep interested. I’d get a great new job, it’d be fascinating for a while, then I would have learnt most of what was interesting and new, and I’d be bored.

That’s why the work I do now is perfect for me. Working in blogging and social media means that the knowledge required to do my job is constantly changing. There are new platforms, new ways to use old platforms, all kinds of changing things which keeps me feeling like there is so much more to learn, a state I love to be in.

It also means I can combine both my travel blog with my social media and blogging work and combine all of that into speaking I do, and all of that cross-fertilisation is actually great! It’s not watering each of these things down – it’s making all of them better.

What does this mean for you?

I think a lot of my clients will identify with this whole multipotentialite thing. Many of you are working in creative industries, or doing creative work (writing, art, etc) on the side of other kinds of work, and enjoying all of it.

What Emilie’s keynote at Problogger reminded me of is that it’s important to embrace all sides of you and work with them – and this is extremely true in the social media area. If you’re running a Facebook business page, for example, then your followers will love you even more if they learn about you as a whole person, so you should feel free to expose them to all of these varied interests you have.

On being a multipotentialite

Are you a multipotentialite?

Does this ring any bells with you? Or are you someone with a very deep passion for one thing (something I’ve often wished for, to be honest, as I feel like it would make life easier)? Let me know in the comments.

 

5 thoughts on “Being a multipotentialite: Believing it’s OK to follow multiple passions”

  1. Yes this is me! I have been thinking about writing about this too – the only time I ever wrote to an author was after read the book Refuse to Choose by Barbera Sher. It is a constant journey of being in start up and being overwhelmed and busy but life is so interesting!!

  2. I can easily believe this about you Serena, knowing all the different projects you have on the go! But yes, it keeps life interesting and I’m planning to stay this way too.

  3. Don’t know how I missed this, Amanda, and I’m really glad I found it! What a wonderful concept, that of multipotentialite. Thank you for writing about it in such an interesting blog.

    I;ve been one of those since I found myself with six children to support before I turned forty. I knew I didn’t want to work to the top of my profession (nursing). In fact I didn’t know how I would ever work with six children, including a couple of pre-schoolers and my oldest not yet in high school

    So I made the radical decision to say, ‘Yes!’ to whatever position presented itself. It has made for an interesting and varied life. I will wear the badge multipotentialite with pride. Thank you.

  4. I think I just found myself! I have always got frustrated because I couldn’t find one label that defined what I do or love to do. I always dread that question “what do you do?” I could never answer it easily. I felt less than or defunct. Perhaps its okay to have a couple of passions and live them all? Thanks for sharing.

  5. Maureen: good on you. I don’t know how anyone manages to do *anything* with six kids, so well done!

    Libby: Yay!!!! Yes, knowing that other people are like this has helped me immensely.

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