“The polymath not only moves between different spheres or different fields and disciplines, but seeks fundamental connections between those fields, so as to give them a unique insight into each of them.” - Deepstash

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Why some people are impossibly talented

Waqas Ahmed

“The polymath not only moves between different spheres or different fields and disciplines, but seeks fundamental connections between those fields, so as to give them a unique insight into each of them.”

Waqas Ahmed

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Why some people are impossibly talented

Why some people are impossibly talented

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191118-what-shapes-a-polymath---and-do-we-need-them-more-than-ever

bbc.com

7

Key Ideas

Polymaths

A Polymath is defined as one who is specialized in at least two unrelated fields or domains while having a passive interest in other domains too. They are individualists that hold a holistic view of the world.

Polymaths have an interest in many different phenomena and are curious and adventurous by nature, looking to experience and uncover new facts.

Qualities Of A Polymath

When polymaths become interested in something, they don't care which domain or sphere it leads them. Some qualities of a Polymath person:

  • Above-average intelligence
  • Open-mindedness
  • Curiosity
  • Self-reliance
  • Individualism
  • A desire for personal fulfillment
  • Desire to find connections.

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

“The polymath not only moves between different spheres or different fields and disciplines, but seeks fundamental connections between those fields, so as to give them a unique insight into each of them.”

Understanding A Polymath

Genetic and environmental factors, along with curiosity and self-awareness, make polymaths complex personalities.

They have historically been rebels, as society has always encouraged individuals to specialize in a particular field.

Jack of All Trades

The idea of "A jack of all trades, master of none" falls flat when we study the polymath.

Pursuing multiple interests can fuel creativity and productivity, creating connections between domains, leading to cross-pollination.

Feeding Off Diverse Knowledge

Polymathy leads to creativity, as one domain can inspire something new in a different domain.

For example: Having knowledge of geometry can help in painting, or knowing to play the piano, one can apply more creativity in a domain like mechanical engineering, by forming connections.

Switching Subjects

What we can learn from polymaths: we can be better and more productive at our jobs if we keep switching between different skills or subjects, changing our environment, the company we keep and our interests. This is also an excellent tool to solve problems.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The modern polymath

... is someone who becomes competent in at least 3 diverse domains and integrates them into a top 1-percent skill set.

In another words, they bring the best of what humanity has discov...

Creating an atypical combination of 2+ skills

Even if you're merely competent in these skills, combining them can lead to a world-class skill set.

Example: Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time, was not the funniest person,  not the best cartoonist, and not the most experienced employee. But by combining his humor and illustration skills while focusing on business culture, he became the best in the world in his niche.

Creative breakthroughs

Most creative breakthroughs come via making atypical combinations of skills.

Researcher Brian Uzzi, a professor at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, analyzed more than 26 million scientific papers going back hundreds of years and found that the most impactful papers often have teams with atypical combinations of backgrounds.

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Polymaths
Polymaths

Polymaths, geniuses with diverse skillsets and varied interests, are the source of some of history's greatest contributions.

Giants like Aristotle, Galileo, and Leonardo da Vinci were...

The Approach Of A Polymath

A polymath sees the world with a unique perspective, making connections that are not apparent to others.

Early polymaths had the advantage of a wide-open field, and went deep in their disciplines, yielding branches and sub-branches of specializations. Deep down, these different branches lead to the same trunk and roots.


Polymaths Vs Specialists

Polymaths differ from specialists, as they are on to a highway that is getting wider, and specialists are parked in a spot that is getting deeper.

Polymaths have the advantage of learning new fields of study, and forming new connections, while specialists start having a narrow vision by going deep, learning less. The learning ability of the polymath is the required skill-set of the future.

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The real master has no tools

He/She has a endless power to improvise with what is to hand.

The more fields of knowledge he/she covers, the greater his/her resources for improvisation.

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville

"Nothing tends to materialise man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labour."

Invention fights specialization

To come up with new ideas, you need to know things outside your field.

The further afield your knowledge extends, the greater potential you have for innovation.

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The polymath
  • Wide interests make him truly rounded, perhaps even multi-specialised. 
  • He can add value to any conversation, either through his familiarity with a particul...
The Renaissance Mind

Cultivating a broad range of pursuits was once seen as the richest way to live, and the surest path to Great discoveries. 

Even today, in a time where the model of efficiency via hyper-specialisation has shifted our focus from ideas to output, the envelope-shifters we most look up to are polymaths. (Steve Jobs and Elon Musk spring to mind.)

Curiosity for cultivating your inner polymath
  • Start by reading magazines and blogs to get to grips with new fields;
  • Sign up to a course in something new. It will help add extra dimensions to your life experience.
  • Pick a new sport – a true polymath cultivates his physique. 
  • Give up the myth of the One True Calling and establish a polymath life working around your many interests. 
Leonardo Da Vinci on how to be successful
  • Action: It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
  • ...
Advice from Bertrand Russell
  • Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  • Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  • Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  • Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  • Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  • Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
Polymaths and mastery

Polymaths manage to achieve mastery across multiple industries, arts, or fields of study. What sets them apart? The willingness and drive to learn new.

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The genius

Genius is too elusive and too subjective to be easily identified. It requires too many traits to be simplified.

However, we can try to understand it by looking at intellige...

Intelligence as a yardstick

Lewis Terman, who helped pioneer the IQ test, tracked over 1,500 Californian schoolkids with IQs above 140, which is the near-genius or genius mark.

40 after the study began, the researchers noted that a number of the study's participants struggled to thrive, despite their high IQ scores. Others tested for the study that did not have a high enough IQ, grew up to become renowned in their fields.

Creativity and genius

Creativity is a part of genius that can't really be measured, but that can be explained to a certain extent. One sign of creativity is being able to make connections between seemingly different concepts.

The 'aha moment' that arises at unexpected times, like in a dream or the shower, often emerges after a period of contemplation. Information comes in consciously, but the problem is managed subconsciously, resulting in a solution when the mind least expects it.

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