Jeff is nearing age 50 and has followed one passion after another into a variety of careers. Although each choice made perfect sense to him, his parents and friends keep asking when he’s going to get serious and rise to the top in just one profession.
The old saying: Jack-of-all-trades, master of none! reveals the bias against those who choose a varied work life rather than committing to a unidirectional path. There was a time, however, when society admired such a person. In fact, some of our greatest contributors have been talented in a variety of areas.
Leonardo da Vinci, painter of masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, also designed and built bicycles, canals, musical instruments and flying machines. Benjamin Franklin not only helped draft the Declaration of Independence, he was also an inventor, statesman, printer, scientist, author, and student of French culture and language. More recently, Maya Angelou, best known as an author and poet, is also a successful songwriter, journalist, actress, singer, dancer, civil rights worker and professor. And she speaks eight languages!
Margaret Lobenstine, author of The Renaissance Soul–Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One, identifies five signs to help determine whether you are a “Renaissance Soul”:
• The ability to become excited by many things at once, often accompanied by difficulty choosing
• A love of new challenges; once challenges are mastered, you are easily bored
• A fear of being trapped in the same career or activity for life
• A pattern of quick, sometimes unsatisfying flings with many hobbies
• A successful career that has left you bored or restless
There is Nothing Wrong with You
People who recognize themselves in that description often feel that something is wrong with them, that they’re not normal. They may be accused of an unwillingness to grow up. They may be called irresponsible, a dilettante, or told they have Attention Deficit Disorder.
If you fit the above criteria, take heart. Support is available to help you embrace your strengths and stop trying to fit into the mold of someone you are not. In fact, your traits make you an ideal candidate for work that requires flexibility, adaptability to change, and a broad skill base. Renaissance Souls are often ideal entrepreneurs since they typically wear many hats in their own business. Public relations, marketing, consulting and project management are other good choices. Because of their multifaceted abilities, they may also adapt better in today’s shifting financial climate and global economy. What’s more, their passionate nature and curiosity are truly an asset in any arena!
How to Handle Your Passions
In her book Refuse to Choose: A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love, career counselor Barbara Sher provides dozens of tools for dealing with a multiplicity of passions and also divides what she calls “Scanners” into nine categories. The “Double Agent” is torn between two interests, while the “Sybil” is drawn to so many things that she’s often unable to choose anything. The “Serial Specialist” and “Serial Master” often stick with one career or project for many years until they’ve gained all they desire from it, and then move on to master different occupations. Understanding your type can help you recognize strengths, get support, and choose work that suits you.
Along with clarifying your core values, Margaret Lobenstine’s “Renaissance Focal Point Strategy” recommends choosing a “sampler” of four interests and then rotating them. For example, you might work on a new business venture, volunteer to teach reading in your local school, take acting lessons and study Italian. If you want to, in six months you rotate some of those out and choose others. That way you’re moving out of indecision and into action, honoring your renaissance soul, and accomplishing goals. A journal and 3-ring binders can help you track your numerous ideas and keep your projects organized.
Often all it takes is a shift of attitude to embrace your renaissance nature. Learn to honor its ways and you may find that your many talents lead you to a fulfilling, passion-filled life.
Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications