Remember the expression less is more? It has its basis in the idea that simplicity can often communicate more effectively than complexity, that a single image can say more than many, that one clear statement can define a person or company’s mission better than a paragraph chock full of words, that a simple “Zen” mind can cut through the clutter of too many thoughts and distractions to reveal the quiet insight within.
I wholeheartedly agree with these reasons behind the embrace of “less.” But, in conjunction with that, I would also argue that in today’s world, sometimes more is, in fact, … more.
The More in More
At first glance, it seems, of course, like more is … way too much! Too much information, too many news sources, too much social media, too many choices, too much stimuli all around! We are bombarded with so much information, that sometimes it feels like we are drowning in it!
However, let’s look at what I like to call a “Renaissance State of Mind.” In interviewing some remarkable modern Renaissance women, I discovered the power of more, particularly when channeled and used properly. What do I mean by a Renaissance state of mind? Well, it is an approach to life that is multi-passionate, driven by curiosity, constantly seeking to grow and expand. It is perceiving life as a banquet of knowledge and experiences, and eating hungrily at that table.
Navigating the More
So how does this Renaissance approach of “more” help with the challenges of life? Well, given the world we live in with its surplus of everything (which we are not likely to change anytime soon), the person who can flexibly move from one skill to another, from one discipline to another, who is more equipped, in other words, to handle that constant stream of stimuli is probably at a distinct advantage over the highly focused and specialized individual who can’t. It is the interdisciplinary style of Renaissance people that is the key. Because their interests and skills are far ranging, they are more able to see the interconnections between things, thus giving shape and direction to what sometimes feels like chaos. They are also more prone to use the information age to their advantage. Because they are growth-oriented and believe in the plasticity of the brain, they liberally use the web to learn new skills whenever they need them.
More in the Workplace
Which leads into the other natural advantage of having multiple skills: It has become more critical in an increasingly uncertain and shifting job market. Gone are the days when someone graduates from college, goes into their first professional job, and then stays at that job for their entire working lives. Statistically, the normal person in the 21st century will hold an average of 10 jobs in a lifetime, and this number appears to be growing. Considering these jobs will most likely differ from each other, at least in some respects, the person who has more skills will likely be able to adapt to a number of jobs – and thus be much more employable. It is also advantageous to realize the ways in which different arenas of knowledge can serve and enhance each other. Often when a problem or challenge is approached from outside a particular field—using methodology or insights from a different specialty—unexpected breakthroughs can occur.
When More Is Just More… Fun!
Let’s not forget the pleasure factor. Certainly, someone who is intensely focused in one area can experience great satisfaction and pleasure from their work, especially if it is their passion. (Think of the scientist, happily laboring year after year at the microscope, trying to crack a particular conundrum, looking for that singular discovery that will perhaps change the world.) But for those happy folks who have many passions, their lives are often rich, stimulating, exciting, and above all, never boring.