How many years has this page from this self help book (and many more like it), kept me from achieving my full potential?
Friday, while searching the web for help on “sticking to one thing,” I came across a website, puttylike.com. It was a revelation…an epiphany.
But let me back up just a little.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the intense drive and desire to do something special with my life. But time and time again I’ve found myself going through the same pattern:
- The Jump: discover (or rediscover) something with which I’m truly passionate.
- Emersion: pour myself into that thing with all my energy.
- Absorption: learn an incredible amount about my passion in a relatively short period of time.
- Saturation: hit a plateau where I am still try to maintain my interest in the subject at hand, but I don’t feel the same passion as in the beginning.
- New Spark: something catches my interest and I begin to think more of it than I do of the thing in which I’m immersed.
- Transition: sometimes its gradual but usually it’s abrupt, without much continuity. Go back to step one.
To say that this has been a source of pain and frustration would be a gross understatement. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that this one aspect of my life is possibly responsible for more depression, anguish and self loathing than any other aspect.
So imagine my surprise and confusion when confronted with the idea that not only am I not alone in this way, but that perhaps (just perhaps) I’m okay the way I am. I’m not defective. This is not a curse, but a gift.
I’m 44 years old. I read the page above when I was 21. That was more than half my life ago! Worse yet…I believed it and all the other ’self help’ literature that says that we must select one thing and focus on it. For most if not all my life I have lived under that assumption that I must focus on one thing only, in order to ‘be successful’. I must specialize.
What if it’s not true? What if I’m okay the way I am. Better yet, what if I’m supposed to be the way I am and synthesize my interest, knowledge and passions into something that is truly unique to who I am?
I know that while reading this, you might be saying…duh! of course you can and should be doing that. But it has never been obvious to me. In fact, just read the text in the picture above…read what it says… It says I can and must choose one passion. What if you have been told that all your life? What would you think? Would you not think that you must choose and if you can’t you are somehow defective?
The site puttylike.com and it’s founder Emilie Wapnick introduced me to the idea of the multipotentialite, “An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.” – See more at: http://puttylike.com/terminology/#sthash.JVaMzDkk.dpuf
This isn’t the first time I’ve considered integrating my interests. I’ve thought about the idea before. I’ve even tried to figure out what that hybrid of my interests might look like. I suppose I’ve had limited success. But I’ve never tried a full on integration of my interests.
This promises to be different because the site puttylike.com is by people like me (the multipod) for people like me. It promises to to be a source of information, insight and support. Ultimately the proof will be in the results. Will I learn to integrate my interests into a path that is not only successful but also true to who I am? And more importantly, can I learn to accept and embrace this multipotentialite nature of mine and eliminate the feeling that I’m defective? I sure hope so! I don’t think I have another quarter century to waist believing the wrong advice.