‘You could be a great lawyer, have you ever thought about that?’ – my mum most of my teenage years.
As a 15-year-old, I already had people around me imagining how my life should look like…
In the meantime, I would often dream of different career paths for myself. At that point, I had no idea what my dream occupation would look like. I was extremely aware university life was probably not suited to my needs: it was too focused on specific topics, the examination process felt deeply outdated, and required too many years of my life.
One day in school, I learned about the Renaissance period…and I found Leonardo Da Vinci to be one of the most fascinating historical figures. He studied art, nature, anatomy, physics, architecture, weaponry and also was an inventor (this man created the first templates for the bike, helicopter, submarine, and military tank centuries before they would come to fruition – that’s fucking insane). Some say he was even a chef and created optimised tools to peel and cut vegetables!
I began obsessing over the concept of the ‘Renaissance Man’ – someone whose intellectual achievements and interests span a wide variety of fields. Although it was a pretty ancient concept, I spent a long time trying to apply it to the kind of world I lived in. I would wander at night about all the things I could be, all the possibilities I had in the palm of my hands…
What was the problem then? I couldn’t become a lawyer, a psychologist, a concept artist, an anthropologist, a polyglot, and a chemist altogether. There was simply not enough time.
The persistent anxiety of ‘having to choose’ even made my hair fall off drastically for a while. I only wished for an occupation that would let me utilise and apply all the different concepts I was interested in – however that looked like.
As expected, most of my family and friends were skeptical of my ridiculous ideas of the future and I don’t fault them…
Such pressure made me suffer from intense crippling anxiety. I’d try to think of all the ways I could apply this piece of humanist wisdom…but, with very little knowledge and lacking many resources, I soon gave up and accepted my fate.
Bad Idea, ‘Cause I Dropped Out Of Two Uni Degrees.
There is nothing that bores me more than a room full of people who can only discuss one single topic, repeatedly – for days, weeks, months…that’s how my first degree felt like. I wanted something more and, very soon, I found the strength to leave. That is when I stumbled upon a more hands-on degree: a film school based in Bristol.
This time around it was alright: I was fairly content, I worked hard, and met good people. There was this case though that probably revived my necessity to leave and go after something a little different…
One day, on a slightly different hurdle, a professor spent a whole morning talking about different art installations, First and Second-Wave feminist movements, and artful self-expression. Many people in my class, all expectant to play with Reds and Blackmagics, were slightly annoyed at what got perceived as a waste of time.
‘I’ve paid for a course on filmmaking. Not art installations. Not feminism. Teach me how to use a fucking camera.’
I found this statement to be such bollocks. Yes, understandably we were in a film school. It was IMPLIED we’d get taught how to use software and how to set up equipment. But, was that going to make any of these people GOOD filmmakers?
Of course NOT.
The powerful storytelling would come from the curious folks in the room. The people open and humble enough to understand that any knowledge could very possibly be valuable and applicable.
Let’s utilise Leonardo DaVinci’s example again: I am very sure his work on anatomy made him a better artist. I am also convinced his inventions made him a better architect or, even dare-I-say, a better chef 👨🏻🍳
We fail to see that knowledge is generally quite inter-connected. Over-specialisation on very singular things and the failure to accept external teachings will only make you an incredibly close-minded individual,
and possibly someone dreadful to work with.
Cynicism And Arrogance.
You might be familiar with the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki. It is indeed one of those pieces every single Instagram Entrepreneur will rave about. Kiyosaki stresses the world is filled with talented poor people. These people often focus on developing very specific expertise instead of comprehending the wider picture. He also states there are many reasons why financially literate people may still not develop abundant asset columns, a few of them being cynicism and arrogance.
I believe that’s where the problem lies: if you are too precious about your singular, shiny skill – you might become too cynical or arrogant if any new valuable information gets brought up or even suggested. And I am not saying ‘quit your skill, move to the mountains and become a hippie’. I am not for randomly burning bridges nor for groundless decisions. All I am saying is…
‘Support your amazing skill with more amazing, different knowledge. Make your work richer in value’.
Doesn’t matter who you are nor what you do: you will not reach your peak potential unless you are open to being an incessant student, you are continuously curious and, last but not least, you are an attentive listener.
An Entrepreneurial Mindset.
This is how I realised entrepreneurship was likely the occupation I had been looking for for so long. Thanks to my current position, I am able to learn plenty of skills and apply them to make my agency (and my other start-up) sturdier; and my life much easier to navigate.
I have learned entrepreneurship is mostly about listening very well to people’s problems and creatively finding solutions. Every piece of knowledge I obtain from books, podcasts, TV programs, people’s experiences – can be applied to my relationship with myself, my habits, my emotional intelligence…and therefore my business.
All in all, the idea of a ‘Renaissance Person’ suggests (very realistically) we might not have enough time in our lifespans to get deep into various skills, but we are able to have the open-mindedness to still discover and intentionally apply their teachings in our lives.
Our mind will only become creatively active if there are a diversity of thoughts in it.
This diversity will only enter us when we humbly welcome it 👋🏼