November 19

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The Renaissance Soul Book Review

For this post, I have something a little bit different than usual. I think it’s fitting to talk about a book that really aligns with my philosophy & temperament: The Renaissance Soul. The subtitle is Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One, and that about sums it up.

If you’ve read more than one of my posts, you’ve probably been exposed to a variety of topics & ideas, and that’s the way I’ve intended it. (The term for this is Multipotentiality)

This stands in stark contrast to the ‘niche’ mentality, which I don't find appealing in the slightest.

Niches are Boring

Basically, it can get boring talking about the same thing every time, and variety is a great way to learn & grow. A niche can trap you, make it harder for you to redefine yourself, and can even handicap you in other areas when you put too much of your focus in one place.

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The Renaissance Soul

What this book does, is introduce you to the idea that it is perfectly normal to resist having only a single field of interest. Think of Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and others who excelled in a variety of fields.

The book smashes the stereotype of the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. You can indeed be a master of many trades. The concept of the ‘career for life’ has been dying for decades now, and this book is your invitation to embrace this reality.

The author lays out a great framework for the different types of ‘renaissance souls’ to be able to blend their many interests into their work, free time, studies, and social circles.

My Experience

I have both a gift and a curse. The gift is that I can quickly become 80% (or more) proficient at whatever endeavor I set myself too, be it sports, business, language learning, and so on..

The curse, is that since I can get to 80% so quickly, the idea of putting in the necessary time to get from 80% to just 85% or 90% proficient is totally unappealing. Why would I spend one week getting to 80, and then 2 years to get to 90?

Growth is the only evidence of life.

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What this means

This means that I need to be involved in a field that is either:

  • rapidly changing
  • very broad in scope
  • very competitive

If 1 or more of these criteria are met, then I’ll feel like I have enough space to breathe. 

This has the appeal of blogging, my income & investment strategies, and the digital nomad lifestyle that I lead.

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What about you?

I’m sure you have at least a couple different interests, probably a lot more. The Renaissance Soul is about leaving the old model of ‘you work so that you can play’ into the new model of making your work seem like play.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t waste it by spending time on things that don’t excite you. Spend time on things that help you grow, or that enrich your life.

The Sampler Platter

She talks a lot about a ‘sampler platter’, which is the main metaphor for choosing up to 4 interests and integrating them into your life. It helps to make this conscious choice

The Impact

The biggest impact this book had, was in helping me to focus on a few projects instead of many of them. Using the sampler platter technique, I’ve been making good progress on 4 projects, rather than meager progress in 8-10 projects.

If you like the idea of pursuing multiple paths at the same time, then be sure to check it out this book. It will help you integrate them into your life without becoming too scattered.


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