Missing Chapter 1: The Renaissance Soul
Being a Renaissance Soul
Perhaps as a consequence of reductionism that is the bastard child of rational materialism, our society is obsessed with being able to put people in boxes. We are deeply unnerved if we can’t put a label on someone. Suppose you wanted to start a company based on the things you were good at…and you happened to be good at making chocolate and piano tuning. The first thing you would hear from a bank, or from a marketing consultant or from probably anyone else you chose to tell about your idea would be that you can’t set up in business as a chocolate making piano tuner. In the world today it seems you must be one thing or the other, you cannot be both. But it wasn’t always so, and it is changing once again.
Leonardo da Vinci was not just one of the worlds greatest painters, in fact the list of things he brilliantly turned his hand to is so long, it’s far easier for me to just paste it in here from Wikipaedia. As well as painting and inventing, Da Vinci applied himself to aeronautics, anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, civil engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, physics, pyrotechnics and zoology. So much for not being a piano tuning chocolate maker. Someone of Da Vinci’s calibre could have tuned your piano and made you chocolate at the same time as training your dog and designing you a dress.
Da Vinci was not alone. Barbara J Wintour, author of Making a Living Without a Job, points out that ‘in the period known as the Renaissance, when the creative spirit was in full bloom, it was not unusual for an individual to be a poet, business owner, artist, soldier, linguist and lover.’
Certainly if my own experiences and those of my peers are anything to go by, it appears highly likely that one of the features of the rising culture will be a great increase in the number of people having the courage to be their whole self, instead of feeling they have to be limited to just one thing. At any one time I might be being a poet, an MC, a host, a teacher, a youth worker or a mentor…not to mention a chef o gourmet pancakes. My friend Tai has even greater variation. He is a dancer and a photographer who is also passionate about property investing and multi-level marketing.
Of course it can be huge help to have diverse areas of talent and interest that can help to put food on the table. The challenge can be how to communicate coherently all the different parts of you when somebody asks. The key phrase to bear in mind is ‘Coherent Synergy’. I know that sounds like David Brent trying too hard to impress during a board meeting, but bear with me. It’s actually pretty useful.
You’ll need an umbrella…or a vehicle that can contain the various aspects of who you are. when you find this umbrella or vehicle it will bring everything together (coherent) in a way that both enhances what you are offering (synergy) and allows you to communicate what you do in a way that is easy to understand.
Using myself as an example, whenever people ask me what I do I tell them I help individuals and organisations to harness the power of creativity (my umbrella) using inspirational poetry, interactive workshops and transformational storytelling (the three aspects of me).
To find your coherent synergy you must seek out the ‘the thread that binds.’ What do all your elements have in common? In my case, creativity clearly fits. It can be useful to check back in with your Big Why – your reason you do what you do. This may help you to find a uniting common thread and it will certainly allow you to speak powerfully about what you do. I found this a great help because it allowed me to really grasp why creativity was so important to me and why it is such a major part of what I do. I was able to explain that I am so passionate about helping the world become more creative because as a species we face some grave challenges…and it will be our ability to respond to them creatively that will define how successfully we turn those challenges into opportunities for the future.
Optimising the story of your Renaissance Soul
A few words on what it will take to be an effective renaissance soul. We’ve covered a lot of this chapter 4. At this point it’s worth considering the importance of juggling and some words of wisdom from Sir Richard Branson. Sir Richard’s common response when posed the question ‘how can I be more productive?’ is to tell the questioner to ‘work out’. Far from tiring you out, exercise will energise you, which is certainly needed if you are trying to do a number of things as a renaissance soul.
When you are trying to do a number of things successfully, it would be well to learn something about how to juggle successfully. I’m pleased to report you’re in good hands. My childhood summers were spent watching some of the world’s best jugglers and then trying to emulate them. The one thing I learnt about juggling is that there’s always time. Even when juggling five balls, you still have a moment when you could clap your hands or spin around. Learn to flow with the time you have. If you try and do too much too quickly, all your balls will swiftly be on the floor. That truth applies just as much to giving your gift as a renaissance soul as it does to keeping your juggling balls in the air. Here’s the other thing…in order for it to be juggling you have to actually be keeping more than one object moving. You certainly may find that in order to give your gift successfully, you have to have a number of different interests between which you divide your time, so that you can stay fascinated and movitated by each.