Got to chatting with some Multipassionate friends, and I think I’m figuring something out. Emilie Wapnick, in Renaissance Business, talks about finding your “overarching theme,” or the commonality in your disparate interests. I listed my interests (kept adding more as I thought of them) and I became somewhat desperate to find the common thread. Then I realized that Multipassionate is actually my common thread.
I love and enjoy so many things, from music, to motorcycles, to fishing, that I despaired of finding some way to connect them. But the more I read Emilie’s writings, the more I realized that my mission in life is far more about BEING Multipassionate than about my various passions.
I’ve learned that what I really want to do is help you explore YOUR passions, not just talk about mine. I want to build a community of fellow Multipassionates, who help each other explore their own interests, whatever they may be, and however disconnected they may seem. Emilie has a TRIBE of multipotentialites; now I want a tribe of Multipassionates.
There really is a difference. Emilie’s tribe is about exploring and exploiting the potential that is in each of us. Multipassionate is more about pushing the limits of what excites us, what turns us on, what makes our lives fulfilling and challenging.
What challenges you? What inspires you to PASSION? What gives your life meaning? That’s what I want to hear about. Comment below, and let’s explore that Rainbow Life together!
Have you ever had this experience? You get up in the morning to go to work, and you just find yourself feeling like you don’t want to go? Then you feel guilty for not wanting to go. It’s a great job, or at least tolerable, and you were very enthusiastic when you started. You are good at it, and enjoy the people which whom you work. But more and more, you find yourself thinking, “I wish I was doing something different.”
Maybe there’s nothing actually wrong with you, or the job. Maybe you’ve just moved on. Maybe you got what you came for and now you’re ready for the next big thing. Remember, Multipassionates aren’t like other people. We have a variety of interests, for a variety of reasons and motivations.
Barbara Sher compares us to a honeybee in this way. A bee loves flowers. Lots of different flowers. Some types more than others because the nectar is better for honey, but never any one flower for any length of time.
The bee samples the nectar from one flower until it gets what it came for. They it moves. Same with Multipassionates. Figure out why you started this particular job, or project, or activity. If you’ve met that need, you’re finished, whether monopassionate thought says or or not. Barbara points out that sometimes you only realize what your motivation was when it has gone. So that feeling of “I don’t want to go.” may actually be your sign that it’s time for something else.
It could also be that it just wasn’t really the job for you. Multipassionates tend to be intelligent, capable, adaptable, and motivated. We fall into various jobs because we CAN, not always because we should. That feeling of despair may just be your sign that this is not your thing. Time to find something else.
So maybe this WAS your passion and now it’s not, or maybe it never was. You’re multipassionate! You can adapt and change better than most. Perhaps it’s time to do so.
As a Multipassionate, I am rarely satisfied with life as it is, at least not for long. I was speaking with a friend about the day job I am working at right now. I have worked at the same middle school for nearly six years now, and he remembered that my job had ended at one point. It had, but I was able to find another job at the same school. I’ve had five different jobs in those six years.
Emilie Wapnick talks about “transferable skills” being one of the advantages of multipotentialty. I guess that has given me an advantage in this situation. It gives all of us advantages in our every day lives. We can take risks because our unique abilities enable us to succeed in a variety of situations.
Scott explains that most of us think of risk in an entirely wrong way. We fear change, because it’s uncertain. We fear failure, because we have only so much control over what is going to happen. And so we’re frozen by our fears, not taking risks because of the negative possibilities that confront us.
But seriously, even if we never take the risk, change will come anyway, possibilities are always uncertain, we have little control over what will happen if we stay in our comfort zones. And for the Multipassionate, those comfort zones may be like the amber that traps the mosquito. Safe, but unfulfilled, not alive.
One of the biggest regrets people express in their later years is that they took the safe path, didn’t risk doing what they love. Remember Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront? “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.” How many of us look back on our “safe” choices and think, “I wonder what could have been?”
Scott makes the excellent point that taking the safe path is often the worst possible decision. He says the worst risk is doing nothing. Not acting, not choosing, not making change. What’s the worst that could happen? Things don’t work out the way you’d planned. Since when does everything work out the way you had planned? You make the choice, you take the risk, maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t. If it does, great, you’ve moved ahead with your life. If it doesn’t, you’ve learned something. You put the lesson to work an move on.
Don’t let external factors determine your path. Not taking risk is the biggest risk of all. Pursue your dreams. Still better to be a happy failure than a miserable success. And who knows, it may easily work out better than that.
I’m rewatching a video by Scott Dinsmore, called How to Find and Do Work You Love. This man is totally one of my heroes. He’s gone now, but died following his passions. His web site, Live Your Legend, always gives me inspiration and motivation. His e-mails totally motivated me to do my best, as do those of his wife since he passed.
But as I was watching the video, I scrolled down to some of the comments. Many were negative, saying he was unrealistic. And in many ways, he is. But being realistic never helped anybody find their passion.
The one that really got me though, was this.
“I don’t know what my passion is what I want to push my energy on. I love being creative but I love all of it and I can’t desire what I really should put my energy on. Drawing,singing,filming, dancing,photographing I just don’t know what to go for. I feel like if I could decide at this age I would be able to really go for it. I would do everything to achieve that but I don’t know which direction I should go.I’m scared of being stuck in the same place without being able to do what I love before I’m all grown up and my dreams and creativity disappears because of the boringness that life is. I don’t care if people say I can’t I just want to have a passion to fight for.”
Can you totally identify with that? Is this person the penultimate expression of Multipassionate? “I don’t know which direction I should go.” I know that feeling. I live with that feeling every single day of my life. It’s part of the core, the essence of being Multipassionate.
Scott is inspiring to me in many ways. But he’s monopassionate. Does that negate his impact on my life? Not by a long shot. I’m still exploring how to implement his advice in my rainbow life, but I have definitely learned some things along the way. I can pursue a variety of passions in his “Live Your Legend” way. I’m working that out now. He mentions knitting as a passion. I’m working on an online knitting course, and it’s very exciting.
I have so many passions in my life, but I can share all of them in one way or another. I can use Scott’s advice to advance myself in knitting, bowmaking, painting, performing, acting, and so many more ways. And in the process, I’m learning things that I can use to teach people about being Multipassionate.
I learn something from just about everybody I meet. I’ve mentioned Emilie Wapnick, Barbara Sher, and others. Scott is one of the bright spots in my universe, even if he is not Multipassionate. I’m working on more ways to share what I’ve learned about how to apply his advice to this rainbow lifestyle. I hope it will help you along the way, like it can help the person who wrote the comments above. This person is obviously Multipassionate, but like many of us, had no idea how to explore that, to make it a strength instead of a weakness. Let’s work on that together. Please, share your wisdom and experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
Strange question. Stick with me and I’ll explain.
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination—what Wilberforce is there to bring that about?
Henry David Thoreau
William Wilberforce was an English philanthropist best known as the driving force for abolishing slavery in Britain. In his essay Walden, Thoreau compares the attitude of a person with the tyranny of slavery. People are often so limited by their own attitudes, or what we would call today, self image, that they enslave themselves.
Scott Dinsmore tells the story of Roger Bannister, who, in 1954 ran a mile in under four minutes. This feat had long been declared physically impossible, but later that same year, John Landy joined Bannister in the achievement. Since then, dozens of runners have broken this “unbreakable” barrier.
What is different from then to now? Why was this absolutely impossible before 1954, and yet many runners have now achieved it? The fact is, it was never impossible, except in people’s minds. The attitude of slavery imprisoned runners above the 4-minute mark, until somebody broke that barrier and showed that it had been illusory all along.
To use Thoreau’s phrase, what do you think of yourself? Thoreau spoke of a farmer burdened by the land and agricultural implements passed down to him by his father. That kind of inheritance was considered a great boon in his day, but he saw that it also imprisoned a man to do back-breaking farm work all his life. He never considered there might be another option.
I searched most of my life for that one passion that would transform me into a person of purpose, and therefore worth. When I discovered my Multipassionate nature, I realized that I am in control of my destiny. I don’t find my purpose, I create it. My choices make it happen, and my attitude determines my choices.
Thoreau tells the story of an old farmer who told him that a human can’t live on vegetables alone because we need meat for bone growth. He imparted this wisdom while being dragged along behind a plow by the strong bones and muscles of a vegetarian cow. Look for similar blinders in your life. We can learn from the past, and value its lessons, but must never allow them to imprison us with wisdom that may no longer be, or never was, true.
Wilberforce broke the back of slavery in England. He didn’t buy the conventional wisdom that one race is inferior to another. He didn’t accept the common attitude that abolishing slavery was economic suicide, or that ending slavery must be a gradual process. He made a world-changing difference because he saw himself as an agent for good.
Like Thoreau, like Wilberforce, we can achieve far more than our own personal success. We can make a difference in the lives of others by helping them change the way they think about themselves.
I sat in an eighth grade history class this morning and listened to a veteran teacher telling his students that their future depends on their attitude. He’s right, but more than that, the future of those we know and live also depends on how we think of ourselves. Put your plans and dreams into practice now.
I have observed that there seem to be three basic types of Multipassionate personalities.
Let’s talk about those. Knowing which category describes you will help you live your Rainbow Life more successfully.
The Consecutive Multipassionate lives life in a series of passionate ways, moving from one to another in sequence, and rarely repeating. Usually, these people find a passion and pursue it intensely for a year or two; maybe more, maybe less. They often mistake each new passion for their one, true calling in life, only to be disappointed when the siren call sounds from a new passion.
Though these people often consider themselves dysfunctional and directionless (and this is reinforced by their peers), their ability to move on is one of their greatest strengths. Each new horizon is a new adventure, and a new opportunity to make the world a better place. The intensity of their devotion to each new passion enables them to contribute in their own unique way, and that way is new each time.
You may have left high school intent on a law career, only to discover English Literature a year or two later. Then ancient Egyptian artifacts attract your attention. It’s OK. It’s more than OK, it’s your Multipassionate nature, and your monopassionate peers will never fully appreciate its value.
The Concurrent Multipassionate is often considered scatterbrained; even unstable. This person has a multitude of interests that baffles the general public, and professionals alike. If this is you, you love to pursue a multitude of passions, apparently all at once. More than likely, you are pursuing each one individually, but at a pace that bewilders the proletariat.
This type of Multipassionate may have been wrongly diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. Literally, or figuratively, you just can’t sit still. You’re like the Travelin’ Man in that old Ricky Nelson song. You may have a girl in every port, but you’re intensely loyal to each and every one. The nice thing is that, unlike romantic partners, passions won’t be jealous of each other.
You may be like a honey bee, flitting from flower to flower. Nothing wrong with any of them, and you’ll certainly revisit many of them, but for now, you enjoy for a bit and then move on.
This may seem similar in many ways to the two previous categories, but the Cyclical Multipassionate is different in many ways. You may pursue passions in some kind of order, like the Consecutive, and you probably have many different passions, like the Concurrent, but in general, you follow a pattern more than the other two. You may find yourself with ten or a dozen passions that you chase over and over. Not always the same ones, or even in the same order, but more than the others, you tend to return to past passions; putting them down and taking them up again when the time seems right.
As you look back on your life, you see patterns that others don’t. Perhaps that interest in Egyptian hieroglyphics paled for a time, but now it seems more interesting than ever. And though you once considered a career in civic affairs, you find you’ve lost your interesting in running for City Council right now.
The Cyclical Multipassionate is one of the best examples of the Rainbow Life, moving from Red to Orange to Yellow to Green to Blue, Indigo, and Violet, each in turn, and then coming back again to the beginning. You may change the list from time to time, but there’s definitely a pattern, a repetition of what fired your imagination before.
So, whether you’re Consecutive, Concurrent, or Cyclical (or a combination; after all, we are the people who break the mold), knowing yourself will help you live far more successfully as a Multipassionate. Forget the idea that there’s something wrong with you because you don’t fit society’s mold. Remember that the people who influenced our world the most have often been Muiltipassionate.
I’ve often said that I find it nearly impossible to be bored. I don’t even understand how people can find themselves in a state of boredom. This seems particularly common among the young people I work with in a school setting. They have so many more options than we ever did when I was their age, but they so often express feelings of boredom.
Multipassionates, on the other hand, are usually the opposite. Our frustration comes more from not having the time to do everything we want to do. We flit from this to that, constantly entranced by the amazing variety of life.
And yet, I recently realized that I am bored. As I said, I have a school-based job, which I enjoy. It fits many of my talents and interests; I love the people; the students are a lot of fun. But increasingly, I’ve got the feeling that I don’t want to be here. I couldn’t explain why, which frustrated those who tried to give me advice, but I just didn’t want to do this any more. But finally, it came to me. I’m bored with it. It’s lovely and pleasant, but there’s no challenge to it any more. I’ve reinvented myself in this way, and expressed my creativity, but now I’m just treading water. There’s no challenge to it, no new horizons to explore. And so it’s time to move on.
I’ve really hesitated to say this, because it sounds so ungrateful and petty, and maybe even insulting to my co-workers, whom I love dearly. But I’m changing jobs next week, so I guess it’s time to face up to the reality. This is who I am. I am a Multipassionate. I’m not like other people who can do the same job for forty years. I need new challenges. Change frightens me, but I need it. And so it goes.
People often assume that multipotentialites quit when something gets too hard. I’ve found that, in most cases, it’s the opposite. We quit when something is no longer challenging, when it becomes too easy.
We Multipassionates like to do hard things; new things, things that require different ways of thinking, things that let us invent and be creative. Once we’ve done that, we’re ready to move on. Monopassionates dread the new job, they want to get past the initial orientation, the establishing of protocols, and on to the comfort of maintaining the status quo. That’s normal. We’re not. And that’s our strength.
I have had to admit that change scares me a bit. It’s hard to get out of my comfort zone. But I’m learning that it is vital to my mental health and well-being. Let’s get out there and change the world!
OK, so I can just hear you now. “What is this Rainbow Life”? Is that some kind of saying leftover from the sixties? Well, the answer is “Sort of yes, and sort of No.”
“Rainbow Life” is a descriptor I invented to say something about our lives as Multipassionate. Most people choose a favorite color and pursue it with all their passion. We have a lens that allows us to see many colors at the same time. This means we live our lives differently.
Multipassionate people are almost always very creative, though this reveals itself in many different ways. We are usually quite intelligent, and able to understand a variety of subjects, at least on a basic level. A few of us may become world-class neurosurgeons or concert violinists; but more often, we learn to be good at a number of things without the commitment it takes to dominate a field.
Researchers say it takes 10,000 hours to become an “expert” at something. Multipassionate people usually move on to something else long before that. We know we could get to that level if we wanted, but we’re more interested in the next horizon. So we live in a rainbow world, not a monochrome one.
It takes both sunshine and rain to create a rainbow. And in our rainbow lives, we learn to take all the ingredients we find and combine them into something unique, over and over again. Every rainbow is different, but for the Multipassionate, every one has a pot of gold.
Break it down. Multiple passions.
Multiple: More than one. Several. Lots.
Passion: Strong and barely controllable emotion. Desire. More than just enthusiasm or excitement.
We are VERY enthusiastic about many things.
Emilie Wapnick has a list of terms for us:
- Renaissance Person
I prefer Multipassionate. Pursuing many passions, doing many things, taking many actions. That’s who we are.
The basic idea has been around a long time. For instance, Ronald H. Fredrickson presented a paper to the American Personnel and Guidance Association in 1974. His research called into question the whole idea of helping students find and pursue their one true passion,at least in the case of what he calls the multipotential person. Those people, according to Fredrickson, are “able to adapt themselves and develop the necessary specific skills to perform well in a variety of occupations.”
We could expand that idea to include performing well in a variety of circumstances and situations, not just occupations. And yet today, life coaches, career coaches, guidance counselors, psychologists and many others continue to push people to find their one true niche, without acknowledging that for some of us, that’s just not realistic.
For years, I did not understand that being Multipassionate is my nature, not a defect. I kept trying to find that one passion to which I could dedicate my life. Bosses, mentors, teachers, counselors; all tried to help me with that, to narrow my focus. Even they thought there must be something wrong with me because I couldn’t seem to get a grasp on this. I am not lazy, scatterbrained, ADD. I am Multipassionate.
But one day at church, I was sharing my frustration with a friend, and she turned on the light for me. She sent me to the writings of people such as Emilie Wapnick, and Barbara Sher. We got together with others like us and discussed these issues.
Leonardo DaVinci was Multipassionate. So were many other high achievers in history. As it turns out, so it my daughter, and she’s proud of it. When people chide her for being too busy, for trying to cram too much activity into her life, for having too many interests, she just laughs and says she loves it that way. Overcommitted? No, just Multipassionate.
This site is intended to foster a community where we can share our passions, learn about our identities and encourage one another in the Multipassionate lifestyle. I like to call it the Rainbow Life. Let’s get started.
In the Chinese Zodiac, this is the Year of the Rooster. Al Stewart sang about the Year of the Cat. I am declaring this the Year of the Multipassionate. I hope you will join me in exploring what it means to be Multipassionate, and what it looks like to live the Rainbow Life.
I’ve been working to build a Multipassionate community for a couple of years now, and it’s time we begin to explore this together in more detail. With the power of community, we can become more than we have been. Our “lack of focus” is often misunderstood by those around us; but we know that it’s our greatest strength. Our ability to multitask, to change, to go with the flow; these are strengths that few around us possess. In the words of my U.S. Marine friend, we improvise, adapt, and overcome. That is what it means to be Multipassionate.
Can you remember the excitement you felt when you first heard about being Multipassionate? I sure can. It revolutionized my thinking in so many ways, and continues to do so. I was seriously trying to follow well-meaning advice to determine my one true passion and follow it. This works for so many people, but it’s a serious source of frustration for the Multipassionate. But now that frustration has turned into joy, and my one true passion is to share this Rainbow Life with you.
May this IS the time when you’re first hearing this concept. If so, I can’t wait to see the joy and expectancy you’ll experience as you push forward into discovering your true identity. Welcome to the club! We are all in this together.
I’ll be adding a discussion forum to this web site in the near future. For now, I’d love to see your comments, observations, and above all, suggestions as move together into an exciting future.