Why Being Polymath is the way to success

How many times in your life have you heard the line ‘ Focus on one area, give your everything to this and you will be successful’. I guess every one of us has heard this pretty common lines. There is a very famous line which says

                                  “Jack of all trades, master of none”

Which means you may be good at a few things but if you are not excellent or outstanding in one thing, your chances of being successful will reduce. Think about your own life, what are the skills you have? How many areas have you studied? Chances are that one, two or very few. We have grown up believing that we need to study one subject deeply and stick to that forever. 

However, if you see the lives of the most successful or I would say the most impactful people in the world they don’t fall in the ‘One area specialist’ category. Take anyone for example from Elon Musk, Steve jobs, Richard Feynman, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos to Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Charles Darwin, Galileo and many more. If you look closely at the lives of these people you will find no one of them studied just one area. Wait, What’s going on here? If we all are being taught to specialize in just one area then why all of the successful personalities did not follow this. 

Something is wrong right!                                                                                                                   Even Scientific research today firmly believes that people who have wide interests are likely to have the creative impact. Have a look at this paper.

But what is the meaning of ‘Polymath‘? (you must have noticed in the headline)                   A ‘Polymath’ is someone who has knowledge of diverse fields and integrates them into one particular skill set. Many examples you will find in my previous posts from Johannes Gutenberg, Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci, modern entrepreneurs like Naveen Jain, Elon Musk etc. All of them had or have diverse interests and knowledge and they combined all the knowledge to produce something unique. There is a great story about Charles Darwin how he discovered ‘Theory of Evolution’. To solve the natures mystery he had to think like a biologist, geologists, naturalist all at once. He approached the problem from different angles. Take our beloved president A.P.J Abdul Kalam, how do you describe his specialization. Although an Aeronautical Engineer, you can see his life how diverse it was and the kind of knowledge he had about various fields.

So you want to be a Scientist. Study about Science of course but have time to read about history, business, literature or whatever interests you. Still pondering why to study all those. Remember what one of the greatest ‘Polymath’ Leonardo Da Vinci said


In fact in this modern era becoming a ‘Polymath’ is even more valuable and easy. Need justification. OK.                                                                                                                                      Things are changing most rapidly in this generation. What was precious yesterday becoming obsolete today. Now if you give all of your time and energy in just one particular skill set. What’s the guarantee that it will not become obsolete tomorrow? No guarantee right. You must know what’s trending now and what is the possible future. Imagine the scenario where someone is giving all his energy and time for becoming an excellent driver and tomorrow the driverless cars become famous. What will he do?        One must be aware of possible future like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Nanobot and many more. Having knowledge about more than one domain gives you access to know the broader and better picture of the world. It will make you much more valuable.

And it’s so easy to become a ‘Polymath’ today than ever before (if only you have interest). The world is connected all the time. You have access to almost all the knowledge humankind have acquired. There are many examples today where someone learns amazing stuff from home just by using the internet. There are Online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, edx which has courses about almost everything you want to learn. Masterclass, Khan Academy is another good platforms. Youtube is a great learning platform, which is completely free. Today a 13-year-old learning coding and developing best apps. 11-year-old learning about astronomy. Issac Newton said

                             “If I have seen further than others,                                                                                                                              it is by standing upon the shoulders of  giants”

Today we have more giants than ever.                 

So ask yourself an honest question ‘what are you willing to learn’? What interests you?      And what is stopping you from learning them? Is it the deep-rooted belief that we can’t be good at more than one things. You have got this one life, learn as much as you can.

Be grateful that you born in this era, your ancestors didn’t get this much chance to learn things so easily like today. 

Robert Greene quote

Have a learning week. Until next time                                                                                                                                                                 -Joy




Source-                                                                                                                                                                  1. Michael Simmons on ‘People Who Have “Too Many Interests” Are More Likely                   To Be Successful According To Research’

 2. Hidden Talents

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