by Zak :)

Fitting the polymaths and renaissance people into modern life

A renaissance person, or polymath (from Greek many and to learn, respectively), is somebody with an insatiable appetite to just do. If you’re a polymath you will want to do near everything, and you will find that a lot of varied subjects pique your interest. In fact, the term renaissance man stems from the great minds of the renaissance period: legends like Leonardo da Vinci – the man who was not only a valued engineer and life-scientist in his time, but also painted the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.

Vinci's curiosity and wish to elucidate nature led him to dissect corpses and extend knowledge of anatomy
Vinci’s curiosity and wish to elucidate nature led him to dissect corpses and extend knowledge of anatomy

And yet despite how utterly well this resonates, in today’s world it can be tough for those that do walk a path of many desires. Of course it is best we focus on one field when it comes to leading a successful career, yet from young most of us are still drilled ‘what we want to be when we grow up’. The culture can prove problematic for the renaissance people. I have met those that have felt pressured or alienated at being boxed into one category, thinking they have commitment issues, or just not fitting in.

Ultimately though, lending yourself to many interests is a true gift. It means you’re very able. You can apply yourself to a variety of walks of life, and have a keen sense of perspective. One of the greatest abilities is becoming a melting pot for ideas. You can cross your hobbies and create far beyond the scope of others. Perhaps all of this sounds obvious, though it is still something that not many do, and as a renaissance person you are in demand. From a management perspective, you can cross renaissance people with specialists, who can take all the ideas and make them work.

And today, there’s no need to be locked into a career – with the advent of the internet and by extension many new sources of income, it is far easier to work for yourself and dabble in many different fields (see: graphics design, journalism). It may be a tad tricky, but the dream is possible. It always is.


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