The term “multipotentialite” was recently added to my vocabulary after learning about it while listening to a Ted Talk a few weeks ago. It was coined by Emilie Wapnick whom describes multipotentialites as people with a wide-range of interests and jobs over a lifetime. Basically, it pretty much sums up my entire existence. Learning that there are others who jump from interest, to job, to career, to new hobby, etc., like I do, offered some sweet relief knowing that I’m not the only one. It also has given me a new perspective on what I once thought was laziness and lack of ambition.
Recognizing my patterns, I now realize it is because I love to learn and experience a multitude of things. Interestingly enough, I’ve also begun to recognize the same pattern in my athletic pursuits as a runner. So it got me thinking. Is it possible that there are athletes that are multipotentailites? Meaning that our curiosity and desire to learn, and be challenged, leads us to frequently try new sports, distances, events, etc.? I’m guessing that most triathletes could be multipotentialites in disguise.
For me, this year alone, I’ve bounced from marathons to half-marathons, shorter distances to cross-country. I’ve not given up on the idea that I could still excel at the marathon or break through my previous half marathon PR, but what else am I capable of? Maybe I could crush a 5k or kick ass at a 100-miler if I allowed them to become my focus. Even if only temporarily.
This whole concept explains why the phrase “Jack of all trades but a master of none” has always made me uncomfortable. I think I’ve always had the desire to excel at something but I’ve never excelled at one thing. At best, I’m mediocre at several little things. But according to Emilie, this is how I’m wired. Instead of seeing it as a road block, I’m going to explore the possibilities. One size does NOT fit all, yo!
Looking at it from the multipotentailite runner’s point-of-view, every run… every race I train for… it builds my athletic character. I came to this conclusion today while I was out for a run. I spent the morning planning my training strategy for my next race. A 5k next month. The last time I trained for a 5k was 20 years ago. It just so happens it was also my first race ever and my only objective was to run a 5k. This time around, I’ve got my sights set a bit higher. But that’s beside the point at the moment.
We don’t have to settle on any one distance or style of running. If one in particular suits you, then by all means, pursue it to your heart’s content. But if you’re a multipotentialite, like me, and want to experience a wide-range of distances and styles…. trail, road, cross-country, ultra, 4k, whatever, then have at it! Maybe something will stick and we’ll master it. Maybe we’ll be mediocre at it. Regardless of which direction we go, I’m guessing we’ll have a hell of a lot of fun in the process!