Not so long ago, a client of mine had seen a TED Talk by a writer and career coach named Emilie Wapnick and compelled me to check it out because it was so connected to what we do at Capes Coaching. Whenever I get this kind of recommendation, I always put it on my Action List, knowing that I'll eventually get to it...usually. But, then a curious thing happened — another client suggested the same thing. And then another client. And another. It was like one of those situations where friends of yours keep telling you that you HAVE to meet some other friend of theirs because everyone thinks that the two of you would really hit it off. So, of course, I watched Emilie's Wapnick's TED Talk...and I got what all the fuss was about.
Wapnick's talk, titled "Why some of us don't have one true calling," explores the idea of multipotentialites — people who, rather than having one overriding passion that they spend their lives focusing on, have a dynamic range of interests and jobs over the course of a lifetime. Multipotentialites are essentially allergic to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And the reason isn't because they don't want to be anything, but that they want to be many things, which (unfortunately) can be seen as somehow "wrong" within the culture-at-large. Multipotentialites often feel guilty about the fact that they aren't compelled by one major life pursuit; they feel tentative when speaking about their careers and interests, because they can appear to be lacking purpose and discipline. They can feel judged, and, to be honest, they often are. All of this tends to lead to the rise of some nasty inner critics.
Wapnick goes on to talk about the benefits of being a multipotentialite (including a wide-breadth of knowledge, a lack of fear in starting new things, and the ability to be flexible in numerous scenarios) and how the combination of multipotentialites working in tandem with specialists often produces the best results. She encourages multipotentialites to embrace their unique characteristics and to see their natural tendencies as a benefit. And I couldn't agree more.
This brings me back to why all of those clients of mine were so excited about sharing this particular TED Talk with me. At Capes Coaching, we've been helping clients work with a trait that we call Multi-Goal Syndrome, which is essentially a variation on multipotenialism. We call it a "syndrome" because it tends to overwhelm people, particularly when it comes to defining goals and making plans to achieve them. This trait also tends to pop up in creative types on a regular basis, which isn't surprising, given that the creative urge often has a wide reach. Often times, when people hear us identify this idea, it's like a lightbulb goes on — "Yes! That's exactly what I'm struggling with!" — and they get excited that it's not specific to them alone.
The bad news is that sometimes identifying the issue isn't enough. Many people still don't know how to embrace their multipotentialism and make it work for them in their careers. This is where we come in. I've been helping people sort through the chaos and overwhelm for over a decade now, and trust me when I say that a good percentage of students in all of my Path classes have Multi-Goal Syndrome. It's something we actively address and work through in the course, and I can confidently say that nearly everyone who leaves the class does so with a sense of clarity and empowerment. Not all multipotentialites need this kind of support, but for those that do, it can be a VERY powerful experience.
In any case, I encourage you to watch Emilie Wapnick's TED Talk — it's enlightening stuff, whether you're a multipotentialite or not. And if you happen to be one and need some guidance with your career, we're here to help :)