This week I saw a TED talk presentation by Emilie Wapnick – Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling. It has finally explained the path I’ve led in my career so far… after all these years of wondering if there is something wrong with me and why have I not stuck to anything permanently… instead developing a variety of unrelated skills by constantly looking to find something completely different to immerse myself in.

We’ve all grown up being asked ‘what will you be when you grow up’ with the expectation that we will choose a defined path when we are at the end of our high school days and do one thing that we will become specialists at… ‘the expert in the field’ and ‘climbing the career ladder’. After seeing this presentation, I’m pretty certain I am a multipotentialite and finally understand that it’s a normal state and a much-needed one in society too!



Emilie describes a multipotentialite as someone who has many interests and creative pursuits.  This term is in contrast to society’s popular and expected norm of becoming a ‘specialist’. Upon pondering my past this week, it has made me wonder if I was going to be a specialist if circumstances didn’t change the path I was on, would I have always been a multipotentialite or does circumstances affect the probability? Maybe more research is needed to figure this one out…

You see at the end of Year 12, back in 1989, I was well on my way to following a particular path. I had plans to work in the hospitality industry and get into Hotel Management. I had applied at NSW University for an Economics degree with a Hospitality Certificate attached from TAFE (the first time it was being offered).

I was set to start my path in this field…it reflected all the work experience jobs I had tried. All involved travel and tourism. Then everything changed. My car crash at 18 altered all these plans redefining what I could physically do and most importantly what I perceived I could do.

Since then I have followed a random succession of career paths leading me into many varied areas and industries such as HR, sales, customer marketing, fashion, peer support, FMCG, health, community, being a business owner, managing a soccer team, cake decorating as well as now teaching, speaking, blogging and trying to write a book…and my mind is still researching other avenues I want to tap into!



Fortunately there are strengths in being a multipotentialite which reflect a real need for the 21st century. Emilie lists these 3 main strengths.

IDEAS SYNTHESIS – This is the notion of combining two or more fields and creating something completely new. Where these fields intersect is where we find innovation. Business today is all about collaborating across multi-disciplines to effect change.

RAPID LEARNING – This I can totally attest to. I can’t count the hours I have spent researching and googling about new fields that I am interested in, absorbing copious amounts of information to try to swim at the deep end. Let’s face it, I have always been thrown at the deep end of any job or endeavour I have undertaken.

ADAPTABILITY – This is probably one of my strongest traits. Experiencing hospital visits as a child, migrating to Australia, learning to speak English and then adapting to spinal cord injury, I think I have been primed all my life to be adaptable.



The world needs both – multipotentialites and specialists – when both are on the same team, this is when innovative and completely new ideas can develop. The multipotentialite helps bring fresh ideas from their varied background and the specialists have the know how to implement the changes needed. Emilie has presented this theory in her presentation.

So do you think you’re a multipotentialite? or a specialist? Either way I’m glad you’re here…we need to work together to make this world a better place… When we understand both of these types in our work and home life, it will be easier to understand how we all fit in the puzzle of the world today.

Michelina Pelosi