Saturday, December 25, 2021



Anna Kiesenhofer, an Austrian cyclist, won a cycling Gold at Tokyo Olympics this year. While winning a Gold at Olympics is a towering achievement in itself, her claim to fame isn't just that. Anna has a doctorate in Mathematics and active in research and teaching at the Technical University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Not just that, she managed to win the Olympic Gold without a professional coach.

One might wonder that Anna's story is one of it's kind. But upon scratching the surface, you hear the names like Hadia Hosny (Egyptian Badminton in 2008, 2012 Olympics, has a doctorate in pharmacology from University of Cairo, Prof. at Univ. And she's a congresswoman in her country), Charlotte Hym (French Olympics street skateboarding, doctor in neuroscience ), Louise Shanahan(Tokyo Olympics in the 800 meters athletics, graduate of Quantum Physics from the University of Cork, Ireland, pursuing PhD).

A while back, I read the book- "The Neo-Generalist" by Richard Martin and Kenneth Mikkelsen, which helped decipher the phenomenon we see in these examples.

What is a Neo-Generalist ?

As the book states- “the neo-generalist defies easy classification. They are tricksters who traverse multiple domains, living between categories and labels. A restless multidisciplinarian who is forever learning. They bring together diverse people, synthesising ideas and practice, addressing the big issues that confront us in order to shape a better future.”

The authors argue that the time for learning one single skill and relying on it for rest of our lives is over. The world is not linear. Complex problems do not exist in isolation. They always touch other problems. To be relevant in an automated world, we need to be adaptive and constantly learn newer paradigms. In short, Eclectic outlook of life is the way forward (you cannot connect the dots with just one dot!!) and the ability to traverse between being a specialist and a generalist as the situation demand will become table stakes in the time to come.

Armed with this insight, the problem really takes a different shape- How do I make most of one's hidden talents in a fast evolving world ? How do we manage multiple passions ?
I wrote about this in a blog, almost a decade back . The 5 question framework introduced in this blog, I feel, is still somewhat relevant in these times. These questions are:
1. Am I "Only Interested" or Am I "Fully Committed" ?
2. Am I able to "prioritize" effectively ?
3. Am I able to "create" enough time ?
4. Am I able to "compartmentalize" life ?
5. Am I believing in myself more than i should ?

(Catch the summary in my sketchnote)

What's your take on the topic of managing multiple passions ? Do you think it's necessary ? or is deep expertise in one field is the way to go ?
#passion #leadership #relevance #timemanagement

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