I remember many years ago doing my English Literature and Art A levels, feeling utterly absorbed in the Renaissance period, it was first time I came across the expression ‘Renaissance woman’ with the connotations it has today.
I was exhibiting my art in a local library, performing in a professional dance company and singing with my band, I was also running the Christian Union, volunteering for a local charity and playing the lead in the sixth from college musical. My English teacher looked up from the Shakespeare text, (Hamlet) peered over the rim of her specs and said…’Janey is – I think a modern day renaissance woman’.
I didn’t take it as a compliment, I think she was probably trying to tell me I was spreading myself too thinly, and might have been better to concentrate on one thing and one thing only. My art teacher was also unimpressed by my flightiness, I had a natural talent and he was keen for me to apply for Oxford to do a foundation art degree but of course that would have meant focusing on one thing – I chose to go and do my degree in Performance Arts and I must say I never regretted it but even then I couldn’t settle to one discipline, and after two terms of majoring in dance I switched to music.
The truth is I am and have always been a ‘Jack of all trades’…you know the end of the sentence…’and master of none’. It took me years before I was finally able to eschew that statement and reframe it to say; I am multi-faceted, and I’m definitely passionate about more than one thing – and that’s OK.
The dictionary says…
The definition of a Renaissance man or woman is a person who is well educated and sophisticated and who has talent and knowledge in many different fields of study. An example of a Renaissance man was Leonardo da Vinci.
Being unsure about the ‘sophistication’ how about the definition in Urban Dictionary …
Someone who is active in many fields.
Normal Girl 1#: Dayum, that girl is such a renaissance woman Normal Girl 2#: Yeah, she’s in like the band, environmental club, politics club, history club, debating team, athletics team, school pride team, choir, European art appreciation society…. Normal Girl 1#: Wish I was renaissance:
The truth is I could never have just stuck to one subject, the whole concept of sticking to one thing feels exhausting for me, and it’s so interesting that clients who are often drawn to me have the same zest for life and so much going on they need clarity on the ‘one thing’ they are going to do. Because we are all told it must be ‘one thing’ – ‘What will you do when you leave school?’ we’re asked. ‘Have a completely varied portfolio of careers from the arts to medicine,’ probably wouldn’t cut it as an answer and yet that’s more realistic today than the concept of a job for life.
When I work with people I usually get them to get in touch with what’s unique about them, their skills and talents, their values, hopes and dreams. After the initial list of ‘professional’ qualities that they usually give me…I’m a good team leader, good at helping others, I ask them to dig a little deeper and look to the real authentic person. You’ll be amazed how many people can’t think of a single thing about themselves that might be unique, special, worthy of making a song and dance about, and yet when we dig a little deeper we find that they have run marathons, crocheted 100 blankets for a charitable cause, been a champion bodybuilder (the tiniest woman you can imagine!) won awards… the list goes on.
The truth is we all have masses of interests, gifts, talents, values and its critical not to suppress parts of our core selves just because we think it doesn’t fit with our brand, or because we think that without a niche – without doing only the one thing – we can’t succeed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that you open up your business selling both high end expensive jewellery and plastic bracelets along with some battered baked bean cans, you will have no clarity on your ideal client or USP and will most likely attract no-one, but what I am saying is that once you have really nailed what’s unique about you, got clarity on your purpose, you may well have more than one dream, more than one goal. It’s likely that if you like me are indeed a ‘Renaissance woman’ (or man) you love to be eclectic, you love variety, and change.
You may not be earning a living from every one of your many interests but hopefully some or much of what you love will be incorporated in your life, so that you are really living your purpose, doing the work you are born to do, perhaps with multiple different income streams.
Many years on, I have been a successful singer, TV and radio presenter (still am) number one best-selling author and brand ambassador and speaker on holistic health and wellbeing.
When I was offered the opportunity to help someone by offering them some media training and confidence coaching it seemed like an obvious thing to do, and I found I loved it, but could I incorporate that into my work on holistic health and wellbeing? Well on paper probably not, but I have, alongside promoting and being a champion for all things natural and organic, run media skills workshops and teach people how to recognise that they are the brand, and their own best PR. It ‘shouldn’t work to combine both businesses, but it does because I am the brand and at the centre of it all and it’s my authenticity that holds it together – I hope.
Steve Jobs said. ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’
Trust in what you love, find that thing (or several things) that make your heart sing.
It may be that you aren’t clear on your purpose yet, I love the line in the Baz Luhrmann song; ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)’; where he says…
‘Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives…Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t’
Having said that…don’t trust what he says about sunscreen…we need the vitamin D! It’s perfectly ok to dabble, to have several areas of work, multiple streams of income. It’s likely there will some thread that creatively holds them together but it’s not essential. The one big challenge for us ‘renaissance’ types is keeping focused, I’ve been known to be two thirds of a way through a great project only to up sticks and start another, these are the times we need lots of grounding in our lives.
Balance becomes important, some form of exercise, meditation or relaxation to keep on track before you literally become engulfed in your own cacophony of brilliance (and if you are anything like me…a tendency towards chaos!). So acknowledge the ‘jack of all trades’ in you and embrace all your interests, gifts and talents, decide upon some kind of grounding that works for you and make sure you get it. I now schedule in a few hours to walk by the sea once a month at least – it recharges my batteries so that I am raring to go….on whatever project is top of the list….for now!
I want to invite you to create success for your life, career or business and learn the secrets for getting SEEN HEARD and SOLD, Join me and my special guest Social Media Guru Katie Brockhurst on this one day inspirational intensive workshop – Janey Lee Grace
Book now to reserve your place! (please note that there are limited places available).
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