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Time of The Multipotentialite

This article has been sleeping in my draft for a year till I was triggered recently by a colleague at work and I felt it was time to air my opinion and this might help someone out there.

What does being a multipotentialite really mean?

A multipotentialite is someone with multiple interests. Multipotentialite is like the opposite of the specialist because, unlike the specialist, a multipotentialite has no “one true calling”.

Multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistical curiosity, to excel in two or more fields.

It can also refer to an individual whose interests span multiple fields or areas, rather than being strong in just one. Such traits are called multipotentialities, while “multipotentialites” has been suggested as a name for those with this trait.

By contrast, those whose interests lie mostly within a single field are called “specialists.

Source: Wikipedia

As a kid, society made me believe I had to be a specialist to succeed. So I kept looking for that “one true calling”.

I look around and I see my peers choosing a path and excelling at it with no distraction. In my case it’s different, I start a lot of stuff but I never see them through till the end. Don’t get me wrong. It is not like these things are difficult, the thing is once I am curious about something I go all in. As soon as everything starts to make sense and I am comfortable, I move to something else that catches my interest.

Family and friends tell me “Ibrahim, you do too many things, stick to one”. I can’t count how many times I tried so hard to stick to one but it never happened. Everything changed when I stumbled on a TED talk video by Emily Wapnick titled Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling, then it all made sense.

Honestly, I was amazed it was even a thing, before then, I used to think something was wrong with me because I had commitment issues, like serious commitment issues, and it affected my self-esteem.

The gatekeepers are trying to force a belief that being a specialist is the only way to succeed but that is not true. We can’t all be specialists, some of us are wired differently and I have learned to live with that. It is sad to see my friends who are engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc., being boxed by society because they have to be a specialist. Of course, some of them are happy being specialists but trust me a lot are not.

It is okay to be an engineer and a poet, a doctor and a photographer, or a lawyer and a designer. You can be anything you want to be. We are at a time where problem solvers are really needed and only people with multiple interests can solve them because when a problem is given to them, They look at it from multiple angles and this is where their interests come to play.

Sometimes a multipotentialite is referred to as a spanner, renaissance soul, or polymath. Some of the greatest minds that ever lived had multiple interests too and that made them Exceptional.

Portrait attributed to Francesco Melzi

Leornado da vinci (1452- 1519) was an inventor, engineer, astronmer, anatomist, biologist, geologist, physicist and architect.

Portrait of Newton by Godfrey Kneller, 1689

Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727) was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and alchemist. His 1687 publication of principia is one the most influential books in science. It is in this work that Newton described gravitation and the three laws of motion.

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra

Michelangelo di lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475- 1564), painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer.

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis, 1778

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was a politician, civic activist author, printer, scientist and inventor. He invented the wood burning stove and bifocals.

Look at the world, people skilled in more than one field are building groundbreaking solutions. A notable mention is one of my role models, Dr. Stephen Odaibo an ophthalmologist, mathematician, computer scientist, and a full-stack AI engineer(The only full-stack AI engineer I know).

Dr. Stephen Odaibo

He is also CEO and founder of RETINA-AI a startup that develops artificial intelligence software for diagnosing retina and systemic diseases from images of the retina.

There is no one way to manage your multiple interests because everybody is different but the link below should help.

1. Making Sense Of All Your Talent — Akinlabi Akinbulumo

2. Six Ways to Manage Your Multiple Interest — Dasanj Aberdeen

3. People Who Have “Too Many Interest” are More Likely to be successful according to research -Micheal Simmons

It’s a battle every day but embracing being a multipotentialite is the only way I can be sane. I am a software developer with an interest in AI, writing, design, fashion, photography, and podcast.

There is always a pattern in everything you do, find it.

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