Power the polymath in you
On the flight, I’m reading. My sister, sitting next to me, is conversing with a woman next to her, whose son is an Engineering student, who spends his time writing stories, despite her insistence that “he focuses on studying, as there’s no benefit in writing”. I’m never one to mind my own business; so down goes my book, and out comes my opinion. I'm unsure if I managed to sway her, but I gave it an honest shot, and here’s where I aimed: It’s not about defending writing as a career, but rather, why not the luxury of both? Today’s norm - choose a degree by age 18, preferably a stable and profitable specialization that can last up to one's retirement age. Do not start over elsewhere, do not pursue extracurricular interests.
Most have heard the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none”, however, the full quote continues, “but often times better than a master of one”. Aha! These jacks of all trades have had better titles; Philosopher King, Renaissance Person, Gentleman Scholar, Polymath, and Modern Polymath. So who are they? I didn’t like Google’s definition, so I’m creating one based on my pseudo-scientific observations and conclusions: Philosopher Kings are ultra-apt learners. They are able to acquire varying disciplines of knowledge in relative depths, resulting in a highly valuable unique skill set. From Aristotle to Steve Jobs, philosopher kings have a way of changing the world.
Polymath Bertrand Russell advocates knowledge for its own sake, especially if futile. Because curiosity is the cornerstone trait of Gentleman Scholars. With an endless sense of wonder, they not only ask, but need to find out, and then go about doing just that. Often, they might juggle careers— app developer slash musician slash photographer; or they switch industries— banker turned fitness trainer turned vegan chef. We all know at least two of those. The line between arts and sciences are blurred for the Polymath. Hence, through them, many industries have emerged, expanded and merged — biotechnology, socioeconomics, etc. In today’s world, where we need synergy, dialogue, and collaboration, Modern Polymath is the ideal cross-field translator, mediator, and innovator.
Sure, there are individuals who only love, and can do, just that one thing. But I believe they are as rare as the ones who excel at absolutely everything. Most of us, I reckon, are somewhere in between. I know many, myself included, who qualify in a degree as Renaissance person. I studied philosophy and marketing, I worked in branding, and then in electrical engineering management and safety. I love psychology, write poetry, I’ve curated art exhibitions, and yes there's a little more to showcase in my kitty of pursuits. But I’m hardly unique. I think everyone has interests or talent apart from their trade. Some, or all, must be pursued. Instead of reserving ourselves, for just one thing, we’re better off expanding into our many potential facets. It’s not about going in-depth everywhere, but allowing yourself to explore some worlds, letting them click and collide while you decide, who else you can be. So, try a paintbrush or a wrench, or reading a new genre, or picking up an old sport. The engineer, whose mother we met earlier; if he continues writing, his imagination will likely be fueled. And then you imagine what would happen, if his imagination spilled over, into his engineering.
Towards the end of 2015, Fatima decided to pursue a creative and purposeful life. Today she is mostly known in her community as a poet— but she is also a freelancing copy-writer, creative/business consultant, editor, private tutor, and an energy healer practiced in both Reiki and Pranic Healing.She is inspired by nature, travel, and books. The readings on Fati’s shelf range from classic to modern literature, art, natural sciences, history, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality.Her values include the pursuit of knowledge, a faith in kindness, and a responsibility towards community.