I spent a lot of years wondering why I couldn’t choose just one thing and stick with it. (I’m sure my husband, who tends to be laser-focused often wondered the same thing).
If you peeked inside my studio you could be forgiven for not know exactly what my passion was. Painting? Writing? Quilting? Knitting?
Turns out I am a Renaissance Soul.
Conventional wisdom tells us that in order to succeed at something we must narrow our focus to one true passion and master it.
I tried. Really tried, then felt guilty when I inevitably grew bored and itched for a new challenge. Coaching friends tried to help by asking “Was I afraid of success or perhaps resisting the work”?
I didn’t know. Was I?
Inevitably someone would bring out that old saw “Jack (or Jill) of all trades. Master of None” and I’d climb back on that ‘single focus’ bandwagon, only to fall off again not long after.
Were my dreams unreasonable?
As I packed to move last summer, I pulled a book off my shelves by Margaret Lobenstine titled “The Renaissance Soul.” I’d owned it for years and referred to it from time to time. Maybe it was because we were moving and my perspective was shifting but this time the message hit home.
There wasn’t anything wrong with me. Rather, like the swan raised with ducklings, I’d been hanging out with the wrong flock, following a path not suited to who I was. I discovered my multi-passionate approach to life can be just as successful and fulfilling as my single-minded friends and peers.
I have a Renaissance Spirit.
Are YOU a Renaissance Soul?
- Do you prefer variety in your work and life over a single-minded focus?
- Do you gravitate towards growth and evolution, learning as you go, rather than strict adherence to a plan?
- Is your sense of success defined by challenges mastered rather than how far up the ladder you’ve climbed?
- Do you have an always evolving set of interests while friends and family ask “Why can’t you just stick to something?”
- Are you accomplished in one or more areas but feel trapped by other people’s expectations that you should stay in that field?
If you answered yes to any of these, you are likely a Renaissance Soul like me. Welcome to the tribe! We’re in great company.
Do you have one passion or many?
Once you know what to look for, a Renaissance Soul is pretty easy to spot.
Mozart was the opposite of a Renaissance Soul — single-minded with one, all-consuming passion for music. He always knew, even as a child, what he wanted to do and never veered from that path. His path focused solely on music and it certainly worked for him. This is the dedication to one passion that career counselors, many coaches and our families have in mind.
Maya Angelou, however is a prime example of a Renaissance Soul. Her career included but wasn’t limited to: journalism, jazz singer, actor, author, lecturer, professor and U.S. Poet Laureate. She embraced challenge and growth, dancing to her own tune. No one could argue that she wasn’t successful and impacted many lives.
“We’ve done a real disservice to people by telling them ‘Be careful. You’ll be a jack of all trades and a master of none.’ It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you study it, put reasonable intelligence and energy, reasonable electricity to it, you can do it.” – Maya Angelou
It was a relief to learn that marching to the beat of a different accordion didn’t automatically condemn me to failure. I stopped worrying that I might be ‘sabotaging my success’ or would end life steeped in regret about goals not achieved.
Instead, I’m creating a new kind of life for myself.
These days my planning allows me to flexibility in how I set goals and achieve them. I’ve also devised a way to manage my time that allows me to make progress on my dreams without fencing me in. I am still successfully self-employed but I use the “Umbrella Approach”.
And while I still consider myself a responsible adult, I’m playing again. A lot. In fact, I’m surprising myself (and others) with my creative productivity.
I do all this by honouring and celebrating my own innate way of being and doing.
A Renaissance Path through the world
As I follow this new path, I know there a lot of other Renaissance Souls out there, still wondering if they’re ‘doing it wrong’. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably one of them.
In a world that keeps asking you to choose The One Thing, I recommend taking the Renaissance Soul approach.