Permission to be Multi Passionate

I’m so excited  welcome Deanna Lohnes, back to the blog.  You may remember her from last summer’s  Kardashian /Cardasian mix up.  Deanna teaches solopreneurs and small businesses to create effective marketing messages. Deanna owns Parlance Media Stop by the blog and say hello. When she isn’t building success with smart business owners, she is lounging in a boat or on the beach.

When Maureen asked me to write a post about how the world benefits from cognitive surplus efforts, I was thrilled. I have surplus cognition! I have my fingers in lots of business pies! No problem.

No problem, that is, until I sat down to write. Blinking cursor. 218 words too embarrassing to submit. Blinking cursor. Delay, embarrassment, blinking cursor. Finally, I realized why writing a post about spare time efforts was like pulling teeth: I’m multi passionate.

“Hi, I’m Deanna and I’m multi passionate.” It feels like the kind of thing one admits in a church basement surrounded by supportive but similarly afflicted friends. Over the years my many interests have led people to call me flaky, unfocused and indecisive. I’ve been accused of lacking drive, commitment and ambition. In college a friend suggested I get tested for ADD. Once a friend even lamented that I would be happier with my work if I were less intelligent.

I’m just now starting to accept the idea that I’m not flighty and shiftless. I don’t need to settle down and focus. I’m learning to embrace my multi passionate self. Many years ago, Barbara Sher coined the term scanner to describe people who were interested in a dozen things at once. I think my parents bought her book for me because I couldn’t choose a college major. Since then, renaissance man has gone in and out of fashion to describe the same phenomenon. Some of us are just wired to need variety. Having the option to switch between multiple projects keeps things interesting.

I suspect having a side business is also a way to keep things interesting, but the idea of cognitive surplus or spare time work implies that someone has a primary role. When she has some time to spare, she works on a side project for the fun of it. Multi passionate folks don’t see any of the things they work on as spare time activities. All the things we do are primary roles. I get just as excited, focused and driven cleaning up a coach’s Quickbooks as doing a rune stone reading. I don’t see either one as using up spare mental energy. Both activities use different kinds of energy and brain functioning. I could never choose one over the other, I need both.

Compartmentalization is Overrated


Don’t do this to your life! (Photo credit: yuan2003)

Whether you have a cognitive surplus business or are actually multi passionate doesn’t make a difference in how you impact your world. So many of us, especially those of us with corporate backgrounds, have been taught to compartmentalize. I think compartmentalizing is a terrible idea. Keeping all your interests in separate little boxes robs the people around you of the opportunity to learn from your experiences. The skills you learn teaching cooking classes on the side easily translate into teaching in your primary job function. And vice versa: the skills I learned running training programs in my corporate job improve the way I share information with my consulting clients.

Interests outside of work are useful beyond transferable skills. Think about points of connection. I recommend that all my clients include personal interests in their About pages. Those personal interests create points of connection. I sail and so does one my copywriting clients. Whenever he calls, he asks me if I’ve gotten out on the water lately. I’m suggesting you share your side projects and outside interests as way for people to make a genuine connection with you. This isn’t intended in the smarmy way sales courses tell you to write down the names and ages of a prospect’s children.

Whether you are multi passionate or just have a side business that excites you, give yourself credit for those skills. Share that knowledge and those activities. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about work vs side business or work vs life, but really its all just life.

Share your story!

The summer showcase is all about you and the stories that inspire you. Or stories about how you spend your free time. It won’t be the same if your voice is missing.

Click here for more information on how share your story! Or, if you aren’t a phone-talker, e-mail me.

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