The return of the polymath

Remember Young's modulus? Remember those physics lessons we took while we studied the wave nature of light? I had a wonderful opportunity to revisit my physics lessons when I attended a workshop on Quantum Mechanics. While I was studying Young's double-slit experiment, I also had a chance to learn about Thomas Young. 
Born in 1773, he was reading fluently when he was just two years in age, and had mastered the Bible by the time he was six. He became an outstanding doctor, mastered more than a dozen languages, and made important contributions towards deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphics. In addition to all of this, Young did wonderful work in the field of physics.
What I learned about him made me curious. While we were kids, we always dreamed of becoming a pilot, scientist and actor all at once. As we grew up, why did we simply brush away those naive dreams and began chasing degrees which earned maximum ROI?  Isn't it strange that our choices to pursue our careers narrowed down as we got ourselves more degrees?
It mostly began like this. We went to school. We did well. We went to more schools ( To B if you are really concerned about returns) and we kept moving. And suddenly one day we were done. We had done our investments. It was time to reap returns for the rest of our lives. 
Which was why a recent advertisement for a global management degree in a B-School of repute provoked me. 

Why climb the corporate ladder when you can take the elevator?

Should career path only move linearly in one dimension? Does it always have to be a ladder or a hierarchy where every promotion stood as a surrogate for the recognition of work? As I had written earlier, we've always assumed our career designs to be monolithic. Does it hold true in the networked world we are beginning to inhabit? In the world of networks, they need not be monolithic. Is it hard for us to conceive career designs that are emergent?
The polymath is back

Check out some of the twitter bios I found here
  • Managing editor of The History Channel Magazine. Writer. E-mail marketer. Social media groupie. Small biz owner. Fitness addict. Personal trainer @bradspy  
  • Writer. Yogini. World Traveler. Photographer. Tango Dancer. Book lover. Cyclist. Engineer. Multi-lingual, @prolificliving 
  As our lives become networked, every facet of who we are becomes a node in the global network of minds. Our action in every single domain, be it in the form of our multi-varied interests or our multi-faceted skills,  contributes value to every node. As we begin to contribute more value, we discover new, emergent nodes. Once we have contributed sufficient value,it becomes easier to monetize the value that has been accrued. This enables us to draw small streams of income from many sources, unlike the past where we had to depend on a job, which most of us hated,  as the only source of income. 

The best thing about this is, you are only doing what you really love. No compromises whatsoever.  Any time you don’t like a source, you simply cut it off. You will survive. If you want to multiply one source, you can drop some other source and do more of that.

While intellectual purists may get offended over the use of the word polymath,used often for geniuses such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, in the true open spirit of the Web, I guess it is justified as, for the first in mankind,  we have got all the resources to discover the infinite possibilities of who we could be in the wondrous world of networks!

1 comment:

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