The concept has many names:
Polymath, multi-hyphenate, multi-faceted, multidisciplinary, renaissance human, wunderkind…
It essentially means being skilled and knowledgable in many things. Not a genius, per se, but someone who pursues a life of learning. And behind that learned skill is an insatiable curiosity that only grows the more you know and question.
The first person that likely comes to mind is Leonardo da Vinci. His curiosity knew no bounds. On top of being a master painter, he was also interested in architecture, geometry, engineering, mathematics, music, anatomy, botany, cartography, playwright stage design and more.
Being multidisciplinary isn’t for everyone. It isn’t an easy goal to take on. You have to spend time and them some to become competent—let alone exceptional—in one skill. More than one and you’re crazy. Luckily, you are in good company. The journey may be long and hard, but that makes it all the more special.
There are many benefits to seeking a multidisciplinary life:
Greater sense of wonder and curiosity. Instead of just following the path everyone else follows, or memorizing the answers and following the rules, a multidisciplinary life gives
you a mind that desires to understand the reason behind the rules. Questions awake curiosity and the desire to figure things out for ourselves. Instead of following the path most taken you to create your own path, leading to true wisdom and a fundamental understanding of how things work.
Ability to learn new things quickly. One skill relates to others. Your previous knowledge interweaves into new things you are learning. Wisdom combined with curiosity keeps you humble and in a beginner’s mind—never too arrogant enough to think you know all the answers. And with that comes the ability to easily apply what you know to other interests, soaking up knowledge like a sponge.
More unique ideas. Because you are interested in many subjects and crafts, your ideas tend to cross-pollenate. Skills influence one another. Lessons you picked up from learning photography might go on and influence how you learn to program, or what you use programming to build (a photography app for example). Each idea leads to another which leads to —
More connections and more opportunities. By learning multiple disciplines, you start to combine, mix and match interests with each other. Your love of film combining with your love of dance and your curiosity about sunsets. Each connection creates a new opportunity for a new project or a person you might meet.
All of these leads to better and more chances to create. And it also gives you more self-awareness of who you are and what you want in life.
curiosity > ideas > insights > skills > opportunities > connections > impact > more curiosity
There are downsides too —
More on that tomorrow.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #905