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How to Become Impossibly Talented

How to Become Impossibly Talented

The modern world makes us concentrated on fucking boring routine work turning a person into a narrow-minded zombie. So it’s better to remember one simple old-fashioned concept about polymaths to avoid this outcome. 

Who are Polymaths?

A polymath has wide knowledge and skills in several areas. In the Age of Enlightenment, erudition was considered an integral part of the ideal person who should have the knowledge of a scientist, the skills of an artist and the body of an athlete. The need for multiple knowledge and skills disappeared during the period of industrialization when the division of labor excluded physical activity from the employee life. At that moment, when the body was immobilized, and consciousness began to solve only repetitive tasks, the “man” inside us raised a rebellion! 

Well, you know, the polymaths were Leonardo Da Vinci, Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, and Einstein. It is difficult to compare yourself with them, but it is not necessary to be a genius to expand the scope of your interests, gaining new knowledge and skills. Everyone has the potential for the development of erudition.

Knowledge in several areas helps to see the world wider and act more effectively. Often new ideas and technological breakthroughs appear at the intersection of spheres that at first glance are not connected with each other. Francis Crick, a physicist by training, was the first to describe the structure of DNA and was awarded the Nobel Prize. He said that it was precisely the knowledge in the field of physics that helped him take tasks that seemed unsolved by biologists. A similar example can be taken from the subject environment. For example, smartphones combined many functions that were previously performed by separate objects: a camera, GPS navigator and computer.

Another example, Steve Jobs, who combined design and software. Elon Musk understands physics, engineering, programming, design, manufacturing, and business. The photo below demonstrates how the thinking of SpaceX company combines design and technology and it is very different from a vision of an organization focusing only on technology like NASA. 

Charles Darwin, the creator of one of the most important theories in history, the theory of evolution, was also a polymath. Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, described his first scientific breakthrough:

“The idea itself was based on knowledge from different disciplines: to solve puzzles, he had to think like a naturalist, marine biologist and geologist at the same time. He needed to understand the life cycle of coral colonies; he was forced to think about the vast time scales of volcanic mountains To understand this idea, a deep intellect was required.”

It’s Hard to Be a Polymath

We all understand that being an erudite person is useful, but why is it so difficult to become one? The main problem lies in our prejudices about learning. For example, we believe that learning is an activity for young people, or that without innate abilities nothing will work out.

Learning is Costly and Takes the Last Effort and Time

Regardless of a person’s age, learning ability depends on the number of neural connections in the brain. They are formed more intensively in childhood since the brain is in a critical period of development. The second significant breakthrough in brain development occurs between twenty and thirty years. It is wrong to believe that after a person has exceeded the 30-years age mark his ability to learn is lost forever. Neural connections are formed at any age, the most important thing to remember is that they are easily destroyed. If we do not use neural connections for some time, then they are cut off as unnecessary. The methods for strengthening and creating new connections are considered to be physical exercises and learning something new, for example, a foreign language.

Learning How to Learn

Be Curious

Polymaths are never driven by a desire to impress or achieve glory. Usually, they want to study everything related to subjects of interest. It is never too late to master an unknown field of knowledge. Moreover, active training improves brain function, helps the formation of new neural connections and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age.

Develop in several ways

Unlike narrow specialists who live and breathe only their subject of activity, polymaths are interested in studying several areas of knowledge. Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes were not only outstanding mathematicians and physicists, but they also tried to comprehend the world, creating multi-page philosophical works.

Polymaths, like children, plunge headlong into numerous activities and hobbies. To regain the ability to be childishly curious, you need to leave the comfort zone and try something that has long been put aside in a distant box.

Do Not Go Too Far With Perfectionism

It can be a real death trap. We all have a limited amount of time and energy, it is not worth striving to become an expert in all areas of interest, it is just impossible. For example, a person who learns 4000 words and phrases in English will learn the language to 90%. The one who learns 6000 words and phrases will increase his level to about 97%. Think about it: do you really need to spend your time and energy on extra 2000 words for 7% of the knowledge? Well, only if you’re a linguist! It’s okay not to perform 100% result in all areas of your life cause there is so much burnout in the end.   

Set Realistic Goals and Follow Them

Polymaths were indefatigable and hardworking people. Benjamin Franklin at the beginning of each day set himself a small goal, and before going to bed he assessed how successfully he was able to achieve it. 

Break large goals into small ones, evaluate every day how consistent you were in your aspirations. The success of every polymath is not a fortune, but the result of the training and self-improvement.

You can be both an attractive person and an inventor! Historical examples prove: the wider the horizons of a person, the more opportunities he or she has to make a breakthrough in one of the spheres of activity. The erudition returns to a person a lost sense of balance and harmony. 

Well, it is time to take the first step away from a narrow-profile obsession with an old-fashioned study of the world.

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