Why do we pigeonhole and label an artist? It is a sure way of missing the important, the contradictory, the things that make him or her unique.
– Lukas Foss
I am constantly asked, “Scott, how can I handle people wanting to classify me as one thing when I do so many things?” or “How do I choose just one thing to do when so many things interest me?” Or (and I love this one), “I’m being told to pick one thing and focus on it. Now what?” First of all, what a spectacular problem to have – being interested in so much and recognizing that you have many talents and interests! If this all sounds familiar, there’s a good chance you have what is being called a Renaissance mind. You know the type. This is the one – probably YOU – whose interests, experience, and expertise spans across many different fields, subject areas, physical endeavors, and even careers. Originally known as “polymaths,” the “Renaissance” moniker came into play as a result of people like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo.
So are you already one of these mentally gifted people? If so, then you have already faced the pigeonholing challenge; people wanting you to be easily labeled and for you to fit in one of their nice, neat categories so they feel safe referring to you.
If you’re not already one, would you like to be a “Renaissance” man or woman? The good news is that there is an increasing demand for this type of thinking and doing. The even better news is that anyone can be this type of thinker and doer. You don’t even have to be a genius. You do, however, have to have a commitment to becoming multi-talented.
So this then brings us back to implementing a strategy for dealing with those times when others want us to be just one thing. I hear it all the time, by the way, in the speaking industry. Insiders will let you in a “a little secret” – pick just one topic and get known for that. Well, I’m more than “one topic” and I’m more than “one thing” and I’m more than “one career.” I’m an enigma to most. What I am and do is elusive to others. And that’s okay – it’s part of my Thinking Magically brand. The biggest thing you and I have in common, though, is our overachieving way to doing things. The one thing you need to start doing – like me – is to let other people know how to refer to your way of doing things so that you don’t fall victim to them doing it on their own.
Here are some tips to branding and positioning your Renaissance self:
STEP ONE. Stop pigeonholing yourself in your resume, bio, and the way you introduce yourself. You teach others how to describe you. When someone asks what I do, I generally reply that “I do lots of things.” I can then tailor what I explore with them to their specific needs and wants. And I still have framed that ensuing description with the understanding that I’m “more” than that.
STEP TWO. Don’t let people put labels on you. People want to keep you safe and warm in a pigeonhole. It makes them feel safe and warm, too. Break out of that need by others by continuing to push yourself out of your own limitations and then letting people know that you’re out there doing MORE.
STEP THREE. Crave variety and declare that desire so others know you’re more than one, boring thing. If you are constantly reinventing yourself, people will be hard-pressed to pigeonhole you as anything.
STEP FOUR. Make yourself the cutting edge. When you are innovative and a pioneer you have the ability to make your own labels. People may try to describe you as being “like” someone else – but that reference won’t be enough. You don’t want to be derivative. You want to be an original.
Always remember that you hold the key to how you are seen and referred to. If you don’t take the lead in letting people know how to define and describe you, they will do it on their own. And that’s usually not pretty. If you don’t want to be stuffed away in some pigeonhole, then stop letting people close the door on some imaginary cage.
And one last thing, when I talk about embracing the Renaissance mind (and all that that type of thinking and behavior entails), I am certainly not suggesting that you become a “jack of all trades, master of none.” There are some of you who are easily able to achieve anything you put your mind to and you simply float from opportunity to opportunity, doing great, always landing on your feet, and then waiting for the next challenge. You see, I’ve always wanted more than that. I don’t want to react to opportunity. I want to respond! I want to do things that are outstanding. I want to do things so I am outstanding. I hold myself to a very high standard. And I want that for you, as well.
So let’s agree right now, shall we, that we reject mediocrity in all its forms. Let’s commit, right now, to excellence in all that we do. And let’s celebrate being great at LOTS OF THINGS – not just one thing.
If you enjoyed any of these articles, I’d be grateful if you click below to share this with others. That’s right, go ahead and help spread this information by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Thank you!
And make sure to sign up for my blog mailing list so you get all future postings delivered directly to your inbox.