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We live in a one-track world, but anyone can become a polymath

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.

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We live in a one-track world, but anyone can become a polymath

We live in a one-track world, but anyone can become a polymath

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Key Ideas

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.

Over-specialization

Over-specialisation in more about defending what one has learnt rather than making new connections.

The initial spurt of learning gives out, and the expert is left to defend his territory.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

Aristotle (382 BC–322 BC)

A polymath that made fundamental contributions to diverse fields of study, including logic, rhetoric, ethics, physics, story, poetry, government, metaphysics, geology and zoology.

Aristotle believed that we should strive to live a life of moderation, nurturing the virtues within ourselves and avoiding the vices on either extreme end.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

H was the father of the High Renaissance style. Da Vinci made contributions to many other fields: urban planning, mathematics, botany, astronomy, invention, history, sculpting and cartography.

  • He introduced the idea of painting with aerial perspective (painting faraway objects less distinctly and with less vibrant colors).
  • He was also interested in anatomy. He used his skills as an artist to create the Vitruvian Man, a study on body proportion and an exemplar of the intersection of math and art common in the Renaissance era. 

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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 o...

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.”

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Polymath

 ..is a kind of well-rounded person who knows a lot of things from several areas life. Academics, politics, health, pop culture, art… everything. 

In addition to knowledge, t...

Helpful tips to become a polymath
  • Learn Multiple Languages. Learn the basics and common vocabulary roots of the biggest language groups. This will enable you to learn any language.
  • Learn How to Write. It all starts with keeping a diary or a dream journal.
  • Be Artistic. Know the great works of art and music. Listen to some good music. Learn common techniques of drawing, painting, and sculpture.
  • Get Interested in Philosophy. Know something about every major philosopher and theory.
  • Learn Some Physics.
  • Explore History. History helps you understand the present. It gives you insights into human nature.
  • Read as Much as Possible. Know the classics and the most powerful literature works from modern authors.
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. 
When routines become a weakness
When routines become a weakness

If you become very attached to your routines, when they get messed up, you get frustrated.

You feel what is almost like withdrawals and you start doubting yourself.

Routines and resistance

A routine means creating practices, habits and rules that force us to be better. Without it, resistance is given too much room to operate.

Routines are essential in the battle with doubt, chaos and laziness.

Discipline is a form of freedom

Left unsupervised, however, it becomes a form of tyranny.

The ability to rotate from routine to routine, discipline to discipline, according to the needs of the day and the moment is very important.

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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Bruce Lee as a philosopher

He studied poetry and philosophy in school. He focused his studies on Asian and Western philosophy, incorporating elements of Jiddu, Buddhism, Taoism, and Krishnamurti. 

This helped h...

Bruce Lee's impressive life
  • He wasn't a master of any standard form of martial arts. He was closest in mastering Wing Chun.
  • He invented his own style of martial arts. He based his style on the teaching of Man and what he learned of Wing Chun. He called his style Jeet Kune Do "the style of no style"
  • He starred in 20 films in Hong Kong before the age of 18.
  • He popularized the "1 Inch Punch" as seen in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  • He was a prolific poet and philosopher. He studied poetry and philosophy in school and was even published several times.
  • He was so fast, his moves were often too fast for a camera to catch.
  • He only made 5 feature films in the US, his last released posthumously.
Meditation isn’t specifically about happiness
Happiness is a likely side effect. It expands one’s freedom in a particular way, and this freedom can be used to pursue happiness and ease with much less trouble.
Ultimate Freedom = Detachment of emotional reaction from experiences

There is a difference between an experience and how we perceive it. We tend to label everything in shades of personal appeal. Freedom, enabled by mindfulness, is about recognising this distinction and observing the moment as it is.

Practice makes perfect

Whether you’re learning to play the saxophone or studying a foreign language, practice, or repetition, makes perfect.

Repetition increases the myelin, or fatty coating, around the axioms tha...

Spaced repetition

Spacing out the repetition, rather than cramming it into one session, is more effective. To use this learning technique:

  • Start by establishing a manageable study schedule. 
  • Choose a method for storing and organizing information. 
  • Don’t forget to test yourself periodically. Tracking your progress will boost your motivation to continue.
Take time for reflection

In addition to solidifying what we’ve already learned, reflection also helps spark new ideas. And it usually happens when you're not working.

Our most creative ideas don't come when we're consciously focused on the problem. but when we're interacting with people, gaining experiences and letting our minds make connections.

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Safe To Forget

As machines become increasingly capable, along with computer memory, power and space being abundantly available, our brains are in a transition phase.

Earlier we had to remember a lot, do cal...

Information In Your Head

As technology advances and the internet gets dramatically more powerful, the need to retain information in our heads diminishes.

Google and other search engines which deploy AI, work as our 'memory partners' and provide us access to most of the human knowledge.

Peer-To-Peer Memory Networks

Our ancestors had a manual 'peer-to-peer' memory network to pass on knowledge to the future generations; it wasn't reliable but worked for a long time.

Now we believe AI is better and more objective to provide us with information, which might not be the case.

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