Support + Inspiration for Serious Multipotentialites

Affirming Your Multipotentiality with Angela Cotellessa, PhD – TMP 076

In this tremendously affirming interview, Flo talks to Angela Cotellessa, who wrote the first PhD dissertation on polymaths and found common themes among them.

Angela shares her research and data, but also her deep insight into the life and reality of polymaths, or, in our language, multipotentialites.

Her study looked at common pain points, successes and struggles – emphasizing modern day, relatable people – not the classic historical figures from one hundred years ago. You’ll be inspired by Angela herself and her list of multiple, simultaneous jobs, “careers” even, and how matter-of-fact she juggles them.

Flo also shares his own story, talking about being “promoted” from a dynamic, stimulating job to a management and administration position for more money, and the same repetitive, drab tasks every day.

As Angela explains:

“Any one job is not going to meet all your needs. But it doesn’t have to be your whole life. Have a life outside of work. Let’s be who we are: smart, strategic, curious, brave. Let’s be human.”

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You’re about to Learn…

  • “Polymath” means “Many learning.” Angela prefers polymathic, an adjective rather than a noun. If you consider calling yourself a “polymath” to be too intimidating or overwhelming, think about saying “polymathic.” There’s no sense of being final or “arrived,” it’s just an approach you have.
  • Common challenges and pain points from the PhD survey: Imposter Syndrome often came up. Finances. Parenting, and how it can limit your time and interests, as fulfilling as it is.
  • Polymaths will figure things out on their own, because they can’t afford to outsource, and they have so much that they want to do, need to learn, need to get done. Yes, it takes time, and we pay for it in time, but that saves the money.
  • For some people, polymathy became a safety net, to get them out of a dysfunctional family environment. Not all polymaths evolve from rich, wide-ranging exposure to ideas as children. Environment has a huge influence though, no matter what.
  • “It is so important to remember, and to see through a lens whenever someone is trying to direct you on how you live your life, ‘Oh these are just their opinions’.”
  • “If you recognize that your puttyness is an integral part of your identity, then when people try and sway you away from that, you recognize that for what it is, and you can say, ‘No, this is part of who I am and I’m going to follow who I am’.”
  • “If you reveal too much (about yourself), it’s going to be too hard for people to understand.”
  • How we have to sensor our jobs, achievements and activities in this age of specialization.
  • Angela introduces her upcoming book: “Polymaths and the Business Organization,” encouraging businesses to understand and embrace generalists and polymaths.
  • Businesses often stick “generalists” in the human resources section, assuming they are not advanced or trained enough to do more.
  • So many polymaths become frustrated in their jobs, forced to specialize: a soul-sucking experience, that they then quit, and what do so many of them become? Entrepreneurs, because now they can pursue their interests, unleash their full potential and utilize their full skill set.
  • There’s very little discussion in the US about working smartly, instead of just long.
  • There’s a rebelliousness in being a polymath. Even if we are professionals, we’re still rebels.
  • Forging this path for others is the job of a pioneering soul.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode