Choose your professional path when you are multipotential.the ?… The worst decision of your life! (2)

As promised, I continue to explain in this second part why it is important to take a step back. In relation to the desires of our parents, our loved ones, we saw it in the first part. 

This time I am going to talk about the distorted view that modern Western society can give us of the 'royal way'. This famous path, which one should follow after having found "his passion", so the studies that go with it, for the profession that goes with it. 

Yesterday: Leonardo da Vinci and the "Renaissance Spirits"

Leonardo da Vinci represented in his time, the Renaissance, the ideal profile, the archetype of the "universal man".

Born in 1452 in a small village in Tuscany, he is an autodidact who learns for himself the arts and sciences. He then built this immense career that we know him, becoming in turn, and often at the same time: painter, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, sculptor, architect, botanist, urban planner, musician, poet, philosopher and writer. And if that wasn't enough, organizer of shows and parties… De Vinci is interested in everything, writes on all subjects, tests and invents, develops quantities of machines. 

This dear Leonardo represents for me the multipotential.the uninhibited that we should all remain (because we are born, and we remain, multipotential.le). He was also encouraged and supported (including by the rich and kings) to "scan" in all directions. Because at that time, innovation, curiosity and invention were encouraged. The world was then experiencing a series of political, economic, social and intellectual changes, and everyone was drawing their place in it by freeing themselves from the shackles (political or religious) of the past.

De Vinci was not the only one, at that time and later, to embark on everything that interested him. Nikola Tesla is also one of those multipotentials who is passionate about "flying machines", he studies German, mathematics and religion, before creating the first alternating current motor. 

In many societies before the so-called "modern" one, in which we live, the evolution of the world and the need to reinvent so many things left room for both multipotentials and specialists. When we were born in the United States in 1880, we knew neither the train, nor electricity, nor the department stores. Twenty years later, many people were changing their lives, their profession and their careers, thanks to the arrival of new technologies, which created new activities, new opportunities and new professions. And North American culture encouraged, and still encourages, innovation and skills development. 

So you have to realize that your vision of success in a career is something contextual, that it meets the codes and standards of a society in a given place and time. 

Today: a world of specialization

Today's world dates back to the fifties

It was after the Second World War and especially in the sixties that the "norm" of paid work took off. It was a great rural exodus: we then left the countryside en masse, and life in the fields, to find jobs in the cities, in newly created companies. The war had enabled technological progress to be made in many areas, and in parallel with the need for reconstruction, had led to the beginning of the "thirty glorious", those prosperous decades of full employment. At the time, even without training, you could enter a company, learn a trade and sometimes evolve throughout your career. That is what we know our parents and grandparents. 

On the other hand, employees (especially workers) accepted "Fordist" rhythms, extremely difficult conditions in exchange for access to the consumer society, allowed by wage increases. But the social revolutions at the end of the sixties will change things.Working hours were reduced: In 1982, François Mitterrand introduced social laws such as the 39-hour week and the fifth week of paid holidays. We will then move on to the 35-hour week.

Also in the eighties, with the first forms of modernization and the injection of electronics and information technology into production tools, the time has come for versatility, mobility and the questioning of classical hierarchies. At the time, new jobs were created, and we still have the opportunity to start without having a predefined career plan. 

But with crises and economic changes, work is becoming more precarious, "old" companies such as steel or textiles are disappearing, careers are becoming less and less "acquired". The CDI no longer means a contract for life…

The arrival of specialists

In the nineties, we left, a priori, more room for multipotentials.

The managerial model evolves over the years, we go froma very vertical hierarchy to more horizontality. We are also seeing the emergence of "liberated companies",in which employees are invited to take decisions freely and to assume the functions of managers in turn. And the arrival of the Internet makes it possible to develop new businesses, partly or totally online, and the possibility of teleworking. The creation of wage portage and statuses such as that of auto-entrepreneur also make it much easier to become your own boss. And so to carry out several activities in parallel, to organize your life as you wish.

Yes, but…

The other side of the coin is first of all that everyone must now build their career, be more in building a successful professional life. The individual has to face more competition to get a sustainable job, because more and more jobs are precarious. He must make himself known, stand out, build his professional image, his personal branding. 

Moreover, specialization is now at the heart of the economic model of Western societies. And it will be more and more so with the increasing complexity of technologies and professions. 

We are seeing more and more very sharp jobs appear. In the nineties, for example, you could "know a little about the web" and enter an agency, and learn as this medium developed.

Today, a community manager (already very specialized profession) will have to specialize even more,for example on a specific social network, to stand out from the competition in the same position. Ditto for engineers, architects…Many professions today require greater specialization. That one must choose, in addition, from the moment one enters the world of work, and even from the beginning of one's studies.

A nightmare for multipotentials.

The other category of workers is the one that can be called "loggers" or "hardworking": they are people who work in "metro-work-sleep" jobs, who can tolerate routine and repetitive tasks well. For some, it is a choice: this regularity reassures them. 

But it's still a nightmare for multipotentials…

And so today, because of the legacy of the last decades, we value above all the "specialist" profile. This is the "royal" way: we choose a path, then we specialize to become an expert, and dig ever deeper into this way. And even in entrepreneurship, it is very often recommended to find a very precise target, what is called a "niche", and therefore to become… expert in his field. Employee or, you must therefore be a specialist in your field.

Multipotentials therefore logically tend to feel abnormal in a society that does not value their profile. 

It's not easy to be multiple in a world that loves boxes!

To this contextual specialization, an economic parameter, is added the psychological parameter: the human being spontaneously puts others, things, the world, in boxes.

It is archaic: it comes from the need to understand the world around us, so that we can protect ourselves from dangers. Both humans and animals need to know if the other (human being, animal, plant, noise, image…) are "friends" or "enemies". The shape at the top of the hill is a saber-toothed tiger or just a rock? And this other human who comes towards me, he wants me good or evil?

These are generalities, "a-priori" taken from rapid observation, without much analysis therefore. But which have become spontaneous and generalized mechanisms of our way of seeing the world. And the others, of course. So we need to "put things in boxes", this is normal behavior. We have to accept that.

We draw clichés, often reductive, but which statistically contain some truth. This reflex harms a good number of "categories" of humans. Glasses wearers are smarter, the "lascars" of the suburbs know only rap, the "people of the countryside" are less educated. We need to know whether the other is male or female, which makes life difficult for people who do not recognize themselves in one sex or one gender.

And obviously, this applies in the world of work.We segment others, our group, or our social class, in our city, our country. There are the "little people" and the "bourgeois", the "workers" and the "haves". And today, especially in Western societies (and from my own experience, especially in France), the first question we ask, the first box we choose, which seems "politically correct", is the profession. The job you do. Because it allows us to imagine (clichés, still clichés) what is the intellectual level, the level of income, the origin and the social environment of the other. His status, his class. To see if he/she is "above" or "below" in the hierarchy. It's ugly, but it's human.

Thus, every day, the multipotentials find themselves very quickly in the difficulty of indicating "their" box to their interlocutors. And almost, as the verb "to be" is often used, to say "who" they are. For others, it's easy: Sylvain is an accountant, Juliette is a hairdresser, Alexandre (or rather Mr. Durand), it's the CEO. That is the way it is. 

What can already help is to correct its vocabulary,andto bring nuance (and more truth) when we are asked the famous question:

"What do you do in life?"

First, by setting aside the verb "to be". The one who locks you into a single role. Find turns of phrase that separate you from your activity as such.

By answering for example: "I am currently working as a department head". By adding also, if the context allows it, more details on his projects ("But my project is to do a training in the field of nutrition") or "connotantes" information (I invent live this new adjective): "I manage the shelves of an organic store, I am very interested in ecology and nutrition".

This allows others to put you in the box they need to put you in, but in the present. And nothing prevents us from developing a little, or a lot, to adjust their perception of your reality – of your complexity.

You can also royally mock their opinion, the image they have developed in their heads. Sometimes it's even simpler.

Tomorrow: a world in turmoil

On the one hand, trades are being specialized in a vengeance, and even studies: to cope with the growth in unemployment and precarious employment, school reforms are moving towards a tightening of teaching and increased specialization of subjects. We will certainly also see the disappearance of subjects such as philosophy and the baccalaureate. We must be "employable", as close as possible to the economic market, to the demands of employers.

On the other hand, however, by choosing only one specialty, one is undoubtedly condemning oneself to future unemployment. We are now unable to know whether his profession will still exist in five years' time – and even hairdressers or pharmacists have something to worry about.

I remember the time when we pushed all students to become web graphic designers. Thousands arrived at the same time on the job market, hoping to find a job easily and quickly. In reality, even if they were to win a permanent contract, given the strong competition, it was bad, very badly paid. And India or China began to offer the same skills at much lower rates. 

These economic changes are rather beneficial for multipotentials, who quickly get bored if their position, their profession does not allow them to do different things, varied activities, and to learn continuously. You may feel penalized in traditional companies, which want a long-term workforce. But in reality, companies are no longer able to guarantee you a job for your entire life. Unless they evolve, adapt. And for that, they will need you. That is one of your playing cards. 

In addition, the world is changing, changing, very quickly. And no one can really know where they're going. Work is changing at high speed as well as the professional environment. There will be many changes to workspaces, working methodologies or services associated with the work environment.

A study by Dares (statistical service of the Ministry of Labour) shows that today 9 out of 10 recruitments are made on fixed-term contracts. Companies want to make it more flexible to control their wage bill. But it is also due to the new aspirations of employees, especially the youngest, who want to free themselves from traditional employment contracts.

This is a fundamental trend. "Multi-job" profiles are becoming more widespread, and the massive arrival of freelancers in companies is changing the situation: there is less and less separating "those who are inside" (employees) and "those who are outside" (freelancers). This is a reality that must be accepted and taken into account. And take advantage of it: the more the work "in phases" or missions develops, the less pressure you will be put on to have a salaried job, and a single job. 

And above all, those who will do best will be the multipotential.le.s, thanks to their ability to learn quickly, to feel the wind turn and the new opportunities to emerge, and their adaptability.

Numerous studies confirm this: in 2030,"the pace of change will be so fast that people will learn 'in the moment', using new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality", says a report by the multinational Dell Technologies. Thus,"the ability to acquire new knowledge will be more valuable than the knowledge itself".  Everyone will change jobs regularly and will be quickly trained in a trade. The learning of new knowledge will be done in real time, on the principle of "in-the-moment learning". Anyone who has chosen a single path, a single specialty, is likely to have difficulty adapting.

From instability to serenity

The difficulty for many multipotentials to commit to the long-term penalizes them harshly in traditional companies and during recruitment. Their multipotentiality is often seen as instability and unreliability. Worse still, their professional mobility too often condemns them to be considered as transitional and not invested employees, which delays them in access to employment and often condemns them to financial insecurity. This further damages their self-esteem. But the situation is changing.

A new vision of stability

In view of the uncertainty of the evolution of the world and its needs, stability can now rather come from multi-employment,and therefore from multiple skills and experience,rather than from a permanent contract. When your only source of income depends entirely on someone else, the danger is greater of losing everything when you find yourself without a job.

More opportunities to make yourself known and develop your brand image

Today, thanks to the web, we have a plethora of tools available to explain your career path and show your skills and achievements. From the profile on LinkedIn to the detailed CV on DoYouBuzz or to the professional pages (you can have several per theme) on Facebook, it is easier to explain and make coherent your career and experiences in the eyes of recruiters. 

Dare to stand out

One of the great assets of multipotentials is their creativity. Use this asset to innovate in the way you present yourself, talk about your skills. Videos or articles, podcasts or online portfolio, so many tools to talk about you. And also allow you to realize that you often have several "red threads" in what you do. 

Multipotential and specialists, a nice complementarity

The world is damned, actually. I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but Mother Nature makes sure that there is a balance everywhere, and for everything. For example, it gives birth to as many men as women, so that we can make babies in quantity. Specifically, out of 1000 newborns worldwide, 504 are men (50.4%) and 496, women (49.6%). Slightly more boys than girls are born: 106 boys for every 100 girls. What for? Because there is a higher mortality rate among boys than among girls – in childhood, but also in adulthood. (INED). She thought of everything!

The world of today and that of tomorrow are, in reality, as much in need of multipotentials as they are of specialists. They each bring what is necessary to create or evolve products, services, sectors of activity, to adapt them, to make them innovate. 

From multipotential to multispecialist

Multipotentials have more professional opportunities than in the 20th century, it is a fact. But specialization is still at the heart of our economic model, and will be increasingly so with the increasing complexity of technologies and professions. And multipotentials will not be able to be employable if they are not specialists in at least one field. 

And even several! The reality is that the multipotentials who will find their place more easily,whatever the evolutions of the world, society, sectors of activity and the world of work, will be the "multi-specialists". Those who are also called "polymaths".

Jack Chapman mentions it in his article:

"Although specialization has some economic advantages, in the era of technological convergence, well-educated generalists will be the ones who will have the most value. We now live in a world where the distinctions between previously separate industries are collapsing and where the real opportunities for growth are where those industries intersect. Exploiting these opportunities of the twenty-first century will require people who are polymath masters.»

The good news is that it is quite possible to be a "multi-specialist". You are therefore not condemned to choose a single path to keep throughout your life. That would be the worst mistake to make, since that is not your role. But it's important to equip yourself with advanced knowledge and skills in one, two, three, or even several areas in which you excel.

This will be good for the company that hires you – provided you showcase these multiple skills, and don't get paid for just one.

It will also be good for you, because if your sector of activity collapses, or new opportunities appear, you will be better able than specialists to branch out towards greener valleys, to adapt. And as you like novelty…

So it all comes down to finding not your way, but your ways: the areas in which you have many beautiful things to contribute.


Specialization, Polymaths And The Pareto Principle In A Convergence Economy

The 7 major changes in the world of work since May 68

Multipotentiality and work

Future of work: what will change in the coming years in the office

By 2030, the world of work is likely to have completely changed

>>> Also read:

Are you a scanner, a multipotential?

Scanners, don't follow the rules!

The FIRST trick to do when you are a scanner or multipotential.the

Multipotential, how to do when you want to do everything?

>>> To discover:

On Facebook:

My Magical Life

My Magical Life – Zebras and Multipotentials

Dream Jobs for Multipotentials

Instagram : maviemagique.psychologie

Twitter: @MaVieMagique

Youtube: My Magical Life 

Medium: @sophilosophybarbarella

LinkedIn : Sophie GIRARDOT

The book: "50 Dream jobs for multipotentials.le.s"

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