Your Career Success: Focused Path vs. Diversity

Some of you probably knew what you wanted to be when you grew up, even before you left childhood behind. Many of us, though, take longer to figure it out, and some take a really long time.

Others never quite do choose a single goal. If you’re one of those, does that mean there’s something seriously wrong with you? Not necessarily, but it might mean you’ll have a more challenging career road ahead, with a lot of zigs and zags.

Multipotentialites or Multipods

This was a new concept for me, but a very intriguing one. I found it in a fascinating article by George Lorenzo titled, “Why Figuring Out What You Want To Do Isn’t Necessary For Success,” on FastCompany.com. The article highlights the career of Emilie Wapnick, founder of Puttylike.com, which is a resource for individuals who can’t seem to focus on one career objective. As the article puts it, “These are people who simply cannot work in only one arena; they have multiple passions they might dive into with extraordinary zeal, often temporarily…. Or they have numerous finely tuned skills and hobbies….”

The problem is, of course, that such people don’t fit into the expected pattern. It can make your work life (and personal life as well) much more challenging than you might like, because people tend to label you as someone who “can’t decide what you want to be when you grow up” and dismiss you as doomed to career failure rather than career success.

You might be interested to know, though, that you’re in pretty good company if you’re a Multipod. Wapnick presented a TED talk in which the following were mentioned as Multipods: Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, and Thomas Jefferson. Not bad company to be in, right?

So is Focus a Bad Thing?

Of course not! At least, not if you don’t happen to be a Multipotentialite (Multipod). Your career success might rest more on a focused path than on a diversity of directions. If you have a strong passion or a well-defined skill-set you enjoy using, you might decide that your best bet is to pursue a goal that takes advantage of it and focus on developing it into a viable career.

In that case, however, you might need to remind yourself from time to time that focus is not only a good thing but also important to your professional development and eventual career success. It’s not that you have to concentrate so hard on the chosen direction that you can’t ever do anything else in your life; you just need to invest a fair amount of time and effort in actions that move you in that direction.

By the way, some people who might be considered at least borderline Multipods find their satisfaction from pursuing one direction for a professional career and indulging many other aspects of their interests and talents outside the workplace–or even as a second-stage career after they retire from the first one.

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