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  • Raise your hand if you've ever been asked the question

  • "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

  • Now if you had to guess,

  • how old would you say you were when you were first asked this question?

  • You can just hold up fingers.

  • Three. Five. Three. Five. Five. OK.

  • Now, raise your hand if the question

  • "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

  • has ever caused you any anxiety.

  • (Laughter)

  • Any anxiety at all.

  • I'm someone who's never been able to answer the question

  • "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

  • See, the problem wasn't that I didn't have any interests --

  • it's that I had too many.

  • In high school, I liked English and math and art and I built websites

  • and I played guitar in a punk band called Frustrated Telephone Operator.

  • Maybe you've heard of us.

  • (Laughter)

  • This continued after high school,

  • and at a certain point, I began to notice this pattern in myself

  • where I would become interested in an area

  • and I would dive in, become all-consumed,

  • and I'd get to be pretty good at whatever it was,

  • and then I would hit this point where I'd start to get bored.

  • And usually I would try and persist anyway,

  • because I had already devoted so much time and energy

  • and sometimes money into this field.

  • But eventually this sense of boredom,

  • this feeling of, like, yeah, I got this, this isn't challenging anymore --

  • it would get to be too much.

  • And I would have to let it go.

  • But then I would become interested in something else,

  • something totally unrelated, and I would dive into that,

  • and become all-consumed, and I'd be like, "Yes! I found my thing,"

  • and then I would hit this point again where I'd start to get bored.

  • And eventually, I would let it go.

  • But then I would discover something new and totally different,

  • and I would dive into that.

  • This pattern caused me a lot of anxiety,

  • for two reasons.

  • The first was that I wasn't sure

  • how I was going to turn any of this into a career.

  • I thought that I would eventually have to pick one thing,

  • deny all of my other passions,

  • and just resign myself to being bored.

  • The other reason it caused me so much anxiety

  • was a little bit more personal.

  • I worried that there was something wrong with this,

  • and something wrong with me for being unable to stick with anything.

  • I worried that I was afraid of commitment,

  • or that I was scattered, or that I was self-sabotaging,

  • afraid of my own success.

  • If you can relate to my story and to these feelings,

  • I'd like you to ask yourself a question

  • that I wish I had asked myself back then.

  • Ask yourself where you learned to assign the meaning of wrong or abnormal

  • to doing many things.

  • I'll tell you where you learned it:

  • you learned it from the culture.

  • We are first asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

  • when we're about five years old.

  • And the truth is that no one really cares what you say when you're that age.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's considered an innocuous question,

  • posed to little kids to elicit cute replies,

  • like, "I want to be an astronaut," or "I want to be a ballerina,"

  • or "I want to be a pirate."

  • Insert Halloween costume here.

  • (Laughter)

  • But this question gets asked of us again and again as we get older

  • in various forms -- for instance, high school students might get asked

  • what major they're going to pick in college.

  • And at some point,

  • "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

  • goes from being the cute exercise it once was

  • to the thing that keeps us up at night.

  • Why?

  • See, while this question inspires kids to dream about what they could be,

  • it does not inspire them to dream about all that they could be.

  • In fact, it does just the opposite,

  • because when someone asks you what you want to be,

  • you can't reply with 20 different things,

  • though well-meaning adults will likely chuckle and be like,

  • "Oh, how cute, but you can't be a violin maker and a psychologist.

  • You have to choose."

  • This is Dr. Bob Childs --

  • (Laughter)

  • and he's a luthier and psychotherapist.

  • And this is Amy Ng, a magazine editor turned illustrator, entrepreneur,

  • teacher and creative director.

  • But most kids don't hear about people like this.

  • All they hear

  • is that they're going to have to choose.

  • But it's more than that.

  • The notion of the narrowly focused life

  • is highly romanticized in our culture.

  • It's this idea of destiny or the one true calling,

  • the idea that we each have one great thing

  • we are meant to do during our time on this earth,

  • and you need to figure out what that thing is

  • and devote your life to it.

  • But what if you're someone who isn't wired this way?

  • What if there are a lot of different subjects that you're curious about,

  • and many different things you want to do?

  • Well, there is no room for someone like you in this framework.

  • And so you might feel alone.

  • You might feel like you don't have a purpose.

  • And you might feel like there's something wrong with you.

  • There's nothing wrong with you.

  • What you are is a multipotentialite.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits.

  • It's a mouthful to say.

  • It might help if you break it up into three parts:

  • multi, potential, and ite.

  • You can also use one of the other terms that connote the same idea,

  • such as polymath, the Renaissance person.

  • Actually, during the Renaissance period,

  • it was considered the ideal to be well-versed in multiple disciplines.

  • Barbara Sher refers to us as "scanners."

  • Use whichever term you like, or invent your own.

  • I have to say I find it sort of fitting that as a community,

  • we cannot agree on a single identity.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's easy to see your multipotentiality

  • as a limitation or an affliction that you need to overcome.

  • But what I've learned through speaking with people

  • and writing about these ideas on my website,

  • is that there are some tremendous strengths to being this way.

  • Here are three

  • multipotentialite super powers.

  • One: idea synthesis.

  • That is, combining two or more fields

  • and creating something new at the intersection.

  • Sha Hwang and Rachel Binx drew from their shared interests

  • in cartography, data visualization, travel, mathematics and design,

  • when they founded Meshu.

  • Meshu is a company that creates custom geographically-inspired jewelry.

  • Sha and Rachel came up with this unique idea

  • not despite, but because of their eclectic mix of skills and experiences.

  • Innovation happens at the intersections.

  • That's where the new ideas come from.

  • And multipotentialites, with all of their backgrounds,

  • are able to access a lot of these points of intersection.

  • The second multipotentialite superpower

  • is rapid learning.

  • When multipotentialites become interested in something,

  • we go hard.

  • We observe everything we can get our hands on.

  • We're also used to being beginners,

  • because we've been beginners so many times in the past,

  • and this means that we're less afraid of trying new things

  • and stepping out of our comfort zones.

  • What's more, many skills are transferable across disciplines,

  • and we bring everything we've learned to every new area we pursue,

  • so we're rarely starting from scratch.

  • Nora Dunn is a full-time traveler and freelance writer.

  • As a child concert pianist, she honed an incredible ability

  • to develop muscle memory.

  • Now, she's the fastest typist she knows.

  • (Laughter)

  • Before becoming a writer, Nora was a financial planner.

  • She had to learn the finer mechanics of sales

  • when she was starting her practice,

  • and this skill now helps her write compelling pitches to editors.

  • It is rarely a waste of time to pursue something you're drawn to,

  • even if you end up quitting.

  • You might apply that knowledge in a different field entirely,

  • in a way that you couldn't have anticipated.

  • The third multipotentialite superpower

  • is adaptability;

  • that is, the ability to morph into whatever you need to be

  • in a given situation.

  • Abe Cajudo is sometimes a video director, sometimes a web designer,

  • sometimes a Kickstarter consultant, sometimes a teacher,

  • and sometimes, apparently, James Bond.

  • (Laughter)

  • He's valuable because he does good work.

  • He's even more valuable because he can take on various roles,

  • depending on his clients' needs.

  • Fast Company magazine identified adaptability

  • as the single most important skill to develop in order to thrive

  • in the 21st century.

  • The economic world is changing so quickly and unpredictably

  • that it is the individuals and organizations that can pivot

  • in order to meet the needs of the market that are really going to thrive.

  • Idea synthesis, rapid learning and adaptability:

  • three skills that multipotentialites are very adept at,

  • and three skills that they might lose if pressured to narrow their focus.

  • As a society, we have a vested interest in encouraging multipotentialites

  • to be themselves.

  • We have a lot of complex, multidimensional problems in the world right now,

  • and we need creative, out-of-the-box thinkers to tackle them.

  • Now, let's say that you are, in your heart, a specialist.

  • You came out of the womb knowing you wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.

  • Don't worry -- there's nothing wrong with you, either.

  • (Laughter)

  • In fact, some of the best teams are comprised of a specialist

  • and multipotentialite paired together.

  • The specialist can dive in deep and implement ideas,

  • while the multipotentialite brings a breadth of knowledge to the project.

  • It's a beautiful partnership.

  • But we should all be designing lives and careers

  • that are aligned with how we're wired.

  • And sadly, multipotentialites are largely being encouraged

  • simply to be more like their specialist peers.

  • So with that said,

  • if there is one thing you take away from this talk,

  • I hope that it is this:

  • embrace your inner wiring, whatever that may be.

  • If you're a specialist at heart,

  • then by all means, specialize.

  • That is where you'll do your best work.

  • But to the multipotentialites in the room,

  • including those of you who may have just realized

  • in the last 12 minutes that you are one --

  • (Laughter)

  • to you I say:

  • embrace your many passions.

  • Follow your curiosity down those rabbit holes.

  • Explore your intersections.

  • Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.

  • And perhaps more importantly --

  • multipotentialites, the world needs us.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Raise your hand if you've ever been asked the question

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B1 TED laughter specialist question adaptability anxiety

【TED】Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don't have one true calling (Why some of us don't have one true calling | Emilie Wapnick)

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    胡毓堅 posted on 2015/12/27
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