Why It Sucks to Be Good at Everything

First, let me share this sentence which completely destroyed me:

“I see it as a curse, rather than a blessing, to be good at more than one thing.”
— Twyla Tharp

Some quotes thrust you forward. Others spin you in circles.

This is one of the latter.


The first time I heard Emilie Wapnick use the word “multipotentialite,” a switch flipped inside me:

“Yes!” I thought. “Thank God someone understands!”

So I continued in my little multipotentialite ways — writing when I felt like it, editing video when I felt like messing with Adobe, playing piano when I got it in my head I could drop everything and become a pop star, taking my clubs into the yard for hours at a time when I remembered I used to be pretty good at golf and could definitely still make a run at winning tournaments if I just had the time to put some work in.

It’s possible this behavior is an extension of the philosophy borne from my schooling, when straight As were expected. And I had all the answers!

I was good at everything.

No, that’s not right. I wasn’t good at everything. I just mastered the three R’s of public education. You remember the three R’s, right?

  • Review
  • Regurgitate
  • Release

In other words: learn material long enough to pass the test, and then move on. These three R’s encompass everything required to succeed in school. Mastery? Who needed mastery when I could learn just enough to get by?

(Oh, and also who needed it when I sat next to our valedictorian Kaci and I could look through the gap in her arm to see the answer to Question #4?)


As usual, I have led you here with a question I have no answer for. Sorry about that. Instead, another quote from a creative master:

“I didn’t choose to become a dancer… I was chosen to be a dancer.
I live and work out of necessity, as deeply and committedly as an animal. There is no choice.”
— Martha Graham

Graham was a dancer and choreographer born around the turn of the century. Without her, modern dance does not exist. Although we don’t know exactly how many dances she masterminded in her 96 years on the planet, it is somewhere around 200(!). Day in and day out — must dance.

Through this single-mindedness and sacrifice and dedication, Graham changed the world.

But that was the old days! Now that we are in a new century, we can be as many things as we want to!

Right?


No matter what opinion you hold on the issue, here is the only question you need to answer today:

Are you using multipotentiality as an excuse?

It is one thing to have multiple interests. It is quite another to abandon ideas when you are stuck, shirk responsibilities at the first sign of difficulty, or refuse to press on to the end of a project, even though it may be just around the corner.

Sometimes ideas are the enemy.

Sometimes discipline is needed more.

Much love as always,

— Todd B


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