You’ve probably heard the phrase that life is change or the only constant in life is change.
If there is one thing I learned early on, that was that not only is it change, it also follows the laws laid out by nature. Now one of those laws shows that as a species increases its specialisation, so too does it cause it’s own demise. Not the most appealing thought, though relevant none the less to today’s society.
If you are wondering why I say this, it is in response to the obesity epidemic (or should that be pandemic) that is affecting more and more people. As humanity adopt and promote more niche and specialised roles for people, so we are seeing the basic human needs for movement, creativity and social interactions reduce. With some living their lives tied between on-screen and another.
Yet if we look back in history it was well known that the brightest and most successful amongst us would embrace a more multi-disciplined approach. For example, the Roman military engineer Vitruvius understood that more than a single area of knowledge was required to achieve success when he announced that “The ideal architect should be a man [or woman] of letters, a skilful draftsman, a mathematician, familiar with historical studies, a diligent student of philosophy, acquainted with music, not ignorant of medicine, learned in the responses of jurisconsults, familiar with astronomy and astronomical calculations.”.
In the Renaissance period, they talk about “Uomo Universale” or the Universal (Renaissance) man. Someone who saw themselves as limitless in their capacities for development, and led to the notion that all should try to embrace all knowledge and develop their own capacities as fully as possible. Or as Leon Battista Alberti put it “a man can do all things if he will.” These concepts paved the way for the likes of Leonardo da Vinci who excelled in the fields of art, science, music, invention, and writing.
Today some of the most revered and admired people of our time such as Bill Gates, Jane Fonda & Bruce Dickenson all shared the same tenacity to never stop learning. Not just learning for learning’s sake, also taking on practical skills pursuing what interests them. They’re well-travelled, keeping interesting company and stay informed of what is going on. They keep themselves fit and healthy. They are not a “jack of all trades” fitting light bulb one minute and changing the oil the next. Likewise, they don’t always have an encyclopedic knowledge of all subjects and will consult with others to achieve their goal. In essence, they have that entrepreneurial spirit, though may not necessarily be an entrepreneur.
I was reminded about this while chatting with a client about what they wanted out of life. What is really important. And why do they want it? Because life is balance, when you put a lot of focus in one area and specialise in that, it means you cannot put the same focus in another area, so that will suffer. Until time machines are invented we only have 24 hours in a day.
And it is important that we remember that we have the potential to be all that we will. Whether that is to build amazing things, create, imagine and explore ourselves and the world around us. You just have to apply the right amount of focus and attention.
Though I would argue that the foundation of all these is a fit and healthy body to support a fit and healthy mind.