Last week, I learned a new term: Mulitpotentialite. It’s a term coined by Emilie Wapnick. She talks about it in this TED talk. This idea so resonated with me that I’d like to share with you a little of what Emilie talked about with a layer of my own thoughts smeared on top.
A Multipotentiliate is a person who does not have, seek or need a single true calling in work. A person whose work and interests span a wide variety of activities, specialities and passions. These people (I am one of them) live a life of seemingly unrelated interests that somehow weave together to make sense to the Mulitpotentialite, even if it doesn’t easly connect on paper or make up a perfect ascension narrative on a LInkedIn profile. We live in the gaps between interests and passions, a series of sprints and holding onto the question “what else can I learn?”
And we have superpowers and a thing to offer to organizations. Here are some of them, as I see in myself and the weird and wonderful Multipotentialites I’ve had the honor of collaborating with.
We see connections between disparate things. We find life force in unearthing the connections, things that look like, at first glance they don’t or can’t go together, but they do. We alchemize, we create narrative, we innovate in that space between good products, practices and possibilities. We’re fearless about drawing on disciplines that don’t belong in the same building. When we find connection between disparate things, we innovate. Like mixing new flavors behind the bar, or combining colors in a new way, we can create something new from the known. And that is a talent.
We take you on an adventure. Because we reach over the isle, we draw on so many disciplines and have lots of experience in many different things, we take you on an adventure through new ways of working, new voices and perspectives and hold your hand as we discover something new, together. We experiment, we’re curious and we see potential in nearly all things. And that, if you can take it, is fun.
We’re open. We evaluate, but don’t judge to kill. We’re constantly evaluating, looking for “value” in the things we see. And since nearly all things have potential in our eyes, we’re open to try new things. Open to feedback, open to fixing, open to trying again, open to what’s next and open to you and your point of view. When openness and potential meet, collaboration is easier and innovation is accelerated. And although we’re constantly evaluating, we’re not stopping the work, we’re saying yes.
We aren’t so hierarchical. We want to know what you think, what you see, and what practices and insights you bring, no matter where you come from. And that, is just kind of awesome.
We’re strategic. Because we’re evaluating and ingesting so much, and because we’re deeply curious and find the connections where none seemingly exist, we can be strategic. We love to identify what’s possible and what we we will do, but don’t jump too quickly to tactics. We revel in the “here’s the strategy…” and THEN love to unpack the “how we get it done”. That’s route finding for organizations.
We love to learn and are thrilled by it. New beginnings are a thing for us. So, we’re not afraid of not knowing. We just bring a shit ton of questions, we want to know how things work. That’s good for growth.
I could go on. And I will in subsequent posts. There are pitfalls of being a Multipotentialite, I live them every day, and I’d like to explore those…another time. For now let’s talk about how Multipotentialites fit into (vs. “fit in”) to organizations.
If your team, initiative, project, product, strategy needs a push, fresh eyes, expansion, a boost, get a Multipotentialite engaged. Maybe you don’t need one forever, (which actually is impossible because they’ll soon move on to the next thing) but one for just long enough for their ability to alchemize, innovate and find something that wasn’t there before, enough time for them to make new of something known, you’ll get the most and best of what a Multipotentialite has to offer. You’ll get them at their highest and best use. So, when you think of your flexible workforce, your flexible innovation force, think of those in your network who have a LinkedIn profile that is delightful and non-linear. Look for those who are brave enough to make public their disconnected array of specialties and experiences, their eccentric hobbies, and their daring projects and experiments. Behind that tapestry of experience is the ability to find something new, something new of the known.