The new reality of success: embracing a diverse range of skills and experiences to thrive in the increasingly complex world.
Great men like Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci were not masters, but had a ‘talent stack’ of a range of skills. These Polymaths were having cross-discipline expertise, which turned out to be infinitely better than having complete knowledge of one single field of work.
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Our present education systems are domain and subject specific, making it hard for us to explore multiple domains. Most of us give in to the rigidity of developing a certain skill, unable to build complementary skills and learning agility.
We need to connect knowledge of different domains and make it fluid, accessible and flexible. Then, just like a kaleidoscope design pattern, we will become unique and beautiful.
In this age, make yourself indispensable by being ‘pretty good’ in two or more skillsets, making yourself among the top 25 percent with some amount of effort. That’s easier than putting in 10,000 hours in one skill to attain mastery.
Taking the example of Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip and the author of many books. He is not the best cartoonist, and not the funniest person. However, he can draw better than many of us, and is funny enough. These two skill sets (1 and 1) create a talent stack and become 11, instead of 2.
It’s never been easier to learn new skills than in the present age. One can become a polymath by simply identifying the key skill sets that are doable and interesting (depending on one’s background and inclination) and learning them by taking up online courses. It’s not about the degree or certification, but the actual learning.
Example: If you are a programmer, you could become a polymath by learning about User Experience and Design of applications.
"The world is most interesting when we can see the complex patterns that connect its different parts to one another. And we can’t truly do that unless we look beyond the boundaries and the compartments of singular disciplines and singular ways of thinking about reality."
... 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 discovered from across fields to help them be more effective in their core field.
Specialists, on the other hand, just focus on knowledge from their own field.
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.