Want to be successful? Be a polymath.
“Jack of all trades, master of none.” You’ve probably heard that quote before, maybe your parents lobbed it at you when you had one hobby too much while studying in secondary school. But not a lot of people know the last part of the quote: “better than a master of one.” Some of the most successful people have hobbies that seem to completely contrast their area of expertise. Tropika Club dives into why becoming a polymath could lead to success.
Enter: The Polymath
A polymath possesses knowledge spanning across different subjects. Some of the most important names in our history books have been polymaths: Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle. And modern examples include the brains behind some of the biggest tech companies are polymaths too: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates.
Polymaths are often able to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. In the example of Elon Musk, he combines his understanding of physics, engineering, programming, design, manufacturing, and business to run his ventures that span across vastly different fields.
Get Ahead of the Curve by Becoming a Polymath
The modern knowledge economy we have today often requires you to venture out of your box. For example, to be an effective online writer, you have to be an academic researcher, a digital journalist, and an online marketing specialist in one go. Some instances you even have to have an eye for good design too. Gone are the days where skills specialisation is glorified in the workplace. After all, how many of us can be Grammy-award winners or Olympic superstars?
Blaze New Trails
Today, polymaths are uniquely suited to succeed because they see each field able to provide something valuable. And combining them has the potential for inspiring great ideas.
Just take a look at Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. He’s not a comedian, or an experienced cartoonist when he first started out. When he first started drawing to Dilbert, he barely even had any experience at the workplace since he’s only in his 20s. But he created one of the most recognizable comic strips in the world by combining his sense of humour, his illustration skills, and his own take on corporate culture.
With fresh skillsets, the number of potential combinations increases exponentially. So by becoming a polymath, you could even be pioneering new fields of study or industries. Some studies even show that global scientific output doubles every 9 years.
And that’s changing the way we solve problems. Now, tackling obesity isn’t just about extolling the virtues of a good diet and exercise. Instead, we tap on the fields of behavioural psychology, sociology, genetics, exercise physiology, and nutrition to solve obesity.
Future-Proof Your Career
Podcast producer, SEO specialist, social media manager, app developer, driverless car engineer – all of those careers didn’t even exist 10 years ago. While we can’t predict what the world will need in the next decade, you’ll be able to withstand these changes by being a polymath and constantly increasing the breadth of your knowledge,
You don’t have to become the next Einstein! You can start by figuring out what inspires your curiosity and figuring a way to bridge the gap between what you know and what you want to know. By drawing on the passion of learning, you can nurture and advance the skills and abilities you want to learn.
Then, all you have to do is connect the dots, as Steve Jobs once famously pronounced. Take something from one field and apply it in another field. And that’s where innovation usually spring. When you combine different strands of knowledge, you get a clearer vision of the whole, and you can see the hidden connections between all the knowledge and information we consume.
Most of us have our curiosity blocked by a compartmentalised way of learning in our years in school. But with an inquisitive mind, you can break new grounds in an ever-changing world.