Don’t have a true calling? You may be a multipotentialite

For a long time I wondered why all my jobs were different in the core nature of it, and none was exactly what I studied.

There is a stigma in being a Jack of all trades but master of none. We are taught by Jack Welch that it’s important to be either No. 1 or 2 in our area, if not, don’t bother.

Sometimes when people ask me what I specialise in, I don’t know how to answer them, because I can do quite a few things, but I’m not a world expert in any specific area.

It is stressful to the average person that he or she hasn’t exactly found their niche yet, and settle in it. We are also told by governments that we need to have other deep skills / second or third skills which are good enough to form the basis of another career should we be retrenched and cannot find a similar job.

It’s all these seemingly conflicting directives and anxiety of not being able to pinpoint what’s I’m really good at that causes a bit of inner tension when people look at me and expect me to justify my existence in this world.

Surfing on Facebook, I came across a Ted talk by career coach Emilie Wapnick on people who don’t have a one true calling.

These people are classified as multipotentialites, or people who have many interests and pursuits.

Wapnick shared that multipotentialites have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime and have 3 key strengths: generating ideas, learning quickly and adaptability.

1. Generating ideas
Multipotentialites combine 2 or a few seemingly unrelated fields to create new ideas, concepts or products.

2. Learning quickly
Multipotentialites are used to starting from scratch so they are more positive towards learning something new as they do it quite often.

3. Adaptability
Multipotentialites are OK being the bao-ga-liao person or the odd-job labourer, just taking on whatever comes their way if there is a small chance they can contribute. They know situations change often and it’s part of life to go with the flow.

It is a small comfort to know that there are other people out there who haven’t exactly figured out what they were born for, but they think it’s OK to not stress out so much over this.

I’ll leave you with parting advice from Wapnick:

Embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be. If you’re a specialist at heart, then by all means, specialize. That is where you’ll do your best work. 

Embrace your many passions. Follow your curiosity down those rabbit holes. Explore your intersections. Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.