Multipotentialite: Boon or Doom

At the age five: I want to be like Santa Claus or I want to be like Hanuman or Chotabhim (If that kid is in India). At the age 10: I want to be a Doctor or an Engineer or a cricketer. At the age 15: I want to be  an Actor. And in this way, for most of the people, with respect to age, the  goal of the future is constantly going to pivot.

But have you ever tried to think that, “I want to become Engineer, Novelist, Entrepreneur and Comedian”, all together?.  Of course, we can not expect such kind of thinking from five-year-old child despite  their innocuousness. But as we grow up with changing interest in the life, such kind of multi-targeted goal must have crossed everyone’s mind, albeit once. Although, why we don’t see so many examples of such multi-passioned people in everyday life? The answer is OUR CULTURE.

The notion of narrowly focused  life is highly romanticized in our culture. When people ask, “What do you want to become in your life?”, the usually expected response is one specific goal. Many people, for what it’s worth, most people in their twenties do not have an idea about what they want to do in life. There is probably two reasons for this kind of response. Either they don’t have an interest in any area of the life or they have an interest in more than one area of life but they can not decide in which field they should pursue their goal, let’s just go with the letter. If  you don’t have the idea about which category you are falling in then do this simple reconciliation. Suppose,  you  felt that you are interested in specific work and then you became so much involved in that work but after some time you felt that you were reaching a saturation point and you need to pivot to another field. If you ever had such feeling then, hey, congratulations, you are not alone in the world. Such kind of people is called, “MULTIPOTENTIALITE”.

A Multipotentialite is a person with many interest and creative pursuits. Many would say that being distracted in too many areas may diminish your efficiency of doing specific work. Hence, this can be easily seen as a limitation or affliction you need to overcome. But, Multipotentialite has also tremendous skills which one should not forget.

The first superpower of being a Multipotentialite is IDEA SYNTHESIS. Suppose one such Multipotentialite will have some area of expertise and when he or she combines idea with other such person having his/her own areas of expertise then there would be a whole lot many common areas of intersections of their interest in which they can ace the field. Innovation always occurs at the point of intersection.


The next major strength any Multipotentialite possess is RAPID LEARNING. The learning process is sometimes can think of as an S-Curve. During the initial phase, one first get acquainted with the process and path to achieve the goal and then it elevates to a next level. But the fact is that Multipotentialite persons had become so used to this beginner of any learning process that they can learn fast and hence this gives them an advantage over the other people. There are many skills which can be transferable across disciplines and they bring everything they have learned to every new domain they start to conquer, hence they rarely start from scratch.

The third super power of Multipotentialite is the ADAPTABILITY. It is the ability of a person to dwell into whatever characteristic requires in a given situation. The Fast company magazine has identified adaptability as a single most important factor require to thrive into the twenty-first century. If you take the example of any company such as Facebook, although, it was started as a social network but in order to survive in the rapidly changing economy of this modern globe, they have now entered in many diverse areas such as Virtual Reality, Free basic services on Internet i.e. and so on.

However, all these does not mean that one should only become a Multipotentialite  and not so much as a specialist. Specialist and Multipotentialite can make quite a team if they combine together.The specialist has a keen and deep thinking about the idea while on the same time Multipotentialite can bring the wide spectrum of his knowledge from the different area to the given project. Hence, our society, our culture should encourage every person to become according to how they are wired instead of crawling them to the narrowly inefficient field for them.

If one take the example of Elon Musk, CEO andFounder of the Tesla Motors, SpaceX, he has done his graduation with physics as a major but he is the best example of a Multipotentialite person anyone can give at the current time. He not just have founded PayPal, but then he founded electric car company ,Tesla Motors,  then by following his dream he founded SpaceX, company that makes reusable rockets,  a completely different project than earlier. He is also been involved in Solar city project and most recently into the project called Hyperloop, the fifth mode of transportation through vacuum tubes. Many a time his company faced failures and even came on the verge of bankruptcy but he did not give up on following his passion and now he is the Ironman of the world. Hence it can be said that it is hardly a waste of time to pursue something you are drawn to, even if you end up quitting.

In a nutshell, this all discussion can sum up to one point: Embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be. If you are a specialist then you must continue to go deep down in the area of interest and if you are a Multipotentialite then embrace your many passions, explore your intersections and follow your dream down to that rabbit hall.

#BY:-  Bhargav Lakhlani

# This article is merely a recapitulation of TED talk by Emilie Wapnick.