We’ve all heard it, but did you know there’s a second part to this limerick?
Jack-of-all-trades and master of none is better than being a master of one.
Yep, that’s the whole thing. Mindblowing, right? Most people have only heard that first part. And most people know what it means–you won’t be successful if you are a multi-passionate jack-of-all-trades.
How many times have you heard “riches are in the niches?” Too many to count. While niching down may very well bring riches, it’s certainly not the only way. What you don’t hear nearly as often is how being multi-passionate can also bring success.
In the entrepreneurial world, oftentimes multi-passionate business owners are seen as unfocused, scattered, and out-of-touch. Like, does this woman really think she can do all that?
Even in the corporate world, the norm is to target employees with highly specific experience. Usually, you don’t see job descriptions that say something like “5 years of multi-faceted experience in a variety of roles” More often it’s something along the lines of “5 years of extremely specific experience in an extremely specific industry using extremely specific software.”
As you get further along in your career, you’re more likely to see this type of job description. Employers are more lenient with entry-level workers, but when you are mid-career, it can be really hard to break through with a multi-faceted background. It’s especially hard to get past the HR gatekeeper if you don’t know anyone that can vouch for your capabilities.
The thing is–there’s a huge difference between lacking skills and being multi-passionate, yet somehow the two concepts have almost become interchangeable.
When you bring your whole self–all of your passions, skills, interests–to your work, you have an advantage because you see the world through unique angles. Specialists tend to approach a problem and try to solve it by making it smaller. They niche down to what they know, whereas multi-passionate leaders see a problem and take an expansive approach.
Multi-passionate leaders ask questions like: Where else does this issue arise? Is there another industry or type of experience I can draw from? This outlook allows for upstream thinking so they can address the root cause. A great example of this is when you go to a medical specialist for a symptom and they only treat that symptom, not the root cause. In my opinion, the best doctors are the ones who can look at the whole person and see the entire picture of health.
There is huge opportunity in combining passions. Innovation happens at the intersection of skill and passion. Imagine if Oprah just stuck with her talk show? We’d be missing out on the programs she’s produced, the books she’s written, and the organizations she’s created. And we certainly wouldn’t be blessed with her incredible wisdom because she wouldn’t have had the experience of exploring her multi-passions.
A myopic focus may limit creativity, but there is one big advantage, especially in the entrepreneurial world. When you specialize or niche down, you can target better. That’s why hundreds of coaches and experts preach it as gospel. And when you niche down (this is where the important part comes in), you can replicate better. Hence, why those experts are so successful.
When you don’t have a niche, or you have multiple audiences, it’s not as easy. You can’t just plug and play and be on your way to a seven-figure business. You need to really think things through and be strategic. You need to put in the work to determine how you can share your multi-passionate story without losing people.
And in today’s world, it’s easy to lose people. Attention spans are shrinking and the marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded. It’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself. But, this is where being multi-passionate is an advantage. What makes you different is what makes you stand out from the crowd.
The best marketers are so clear on who they are, even if who they are doesn’t fit a mold or fall into a niche. When you use all of your passions, you attract your ideal clients and repel everyone else. This may mean that you need to market a little differently but that’s OK. If that’s how you’re going to get your message across, then that’s the way to do it.
When you combine all of your unique skills, passions, personality traits, perspectives, you create opportunities tailor-made for you. It’s certainly not as easy as niching down but if you nail it, you have more opportunity than that “master of one.”
How many times have you felt underutilized and underappreciated? More likely than not, it’s because you were trying to fit your multi-passionate round peg self into a specialist square hole.
Your skills weren’t being used to the fullest potential and you weren’t fully expressing who you are. This is true in work, relationships, and life in general. If you’re not in a space where you can bring all of you, you are going to feel frustrated, stifled, and stagnant. The key is to recognize that and honor yourself. Take time to listen to the longing of your heart and begin to lean into the edges of yourself. The happiest people we know are doing all of the work that they love, not just some of it.
So many people have passions or desires that they don’t allow themselves to pursue. Here’s an example that we hear all the time: “I’d love to be an artist, but I could never make money doing art.” But, it’s important to take time to do the things you love. It’s a source of energy that fills your soul. It doesn’t mean you have to make money from it, just give yourself space to explore it. Give yourself permission to hold space for the dream in your heart.
For some people, specializing or niching down may very well be the best solution. For those of us with many passions that we just have to pursue, following your heart is the key. When you pursue those multiple passions, you won’t feel as stifled. You won’t feel like you’ve had to compromise your dreams for societal norms that are based on an incomplete limerick.