“A person of wide knowledge or learning.”
“A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.”
When we compare this against an expert, who has a specific subject that they are expert in, it seems that it must be pretty tough to become a polymath.
I have a conundrum to chew over, because this diversifying of expertise is against what I’ve been told that one should strive for especially within a career path.
Gaining mastery in various areas
Is it possible that one can gain mastery in various areas and still claim expertise over more than one? This kind of goes against the grain but I feel deserves some thought.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’ve done reading around the subject of being or becoming an expert in your field. The usual strap line being that you get to know your subject area and stick to it. We also hear phrases such as ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, which tends to imply that the person didn’t do the aforementioned experting up in only their chosen field.
Personally I coach, and I coach everybody from parents struggling with issues relating to said parenting right through to executive level business coaching. I also work in other areas which have nothing in common with coaching, but I don’t feel any more expert in one area than another.
So when It was suggested that I pick my topic and expert up when I qualified I struggled to know what my area was and felt that perhaps I hadn’t yet found my strength area as I was diverse in my coaching fields and approaches.
Strengths in diverse topics
Having pondered this topic I feel that I’m happy to sit in the middle of what you could almost describe as a mind map of various expertise. This no longer makes me feel as though I’m ‘getting it wrong’ but rather that if my strengths lie in diverse topics, why not just go there anyway.
My question here for the wider audience lies in the direction of a question about where you might be feeling that your expertise lies, and also if you are feeling that you have to be pigeon holed into a specialism which is more niche than you would like.
Therefore the challenge here is to open up to the possibility that perhaps you can be a polymath and that this too is ok and doesn’t detract from your expertise across different subject areas and practice.
About the author: To find out more about Caralyn Cox MAPP, please click here.