Da Vinci

Today is Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday.

That’s right, 558 years ago today, one of the smartest people that ever lived was born.

A genius, some would say.

A Genius…..Why?

Well, apart from being one of the greatest painters of all time (who painted The Mona Lisa portrait), he also had many other talents and careers. He was also an architect, inventor, mathematician, engineer, sculpter, anatomist, musician and writer.

He was truly multi-talented and achieved success in so many different areas despite having no formal education.

You’re a genius too

But being multi-talented is not just the preserve of the likes of Da Vinci – you too have many different talents. Your whole team is multi-talented. Your whole organisation has multiple talents – despite having people who are pigeon-holed into different jobs.

Why does this matter?

It matters because we now live and work in a work-place that will constantly change and adapt. Technology and globalised competition mean that there is no such thing as a ‘job for life.’ No such thing as a ‘one career career’

The graduates coming out of college and universities today are likely to have 5 career changes by the time they retire (that’s right 5 career changes, not job changes). Over the next decade, learning how to reinvent yourself and tap into different talents to serve different market needs will become a life skill that everyone will need to learn.

So your ability to change and adapt to the modern economy will play a big part in your career success – a big part in your future earnings potential.

And being a multi-talented Da Vinci who can operate in different roles and functions is a central part of that success and earnings capacity.

Plus, of course, being multi-talented allows you to become recession proof by ensuring you don’t get pidgeon holed in one career.

The quicker you realise that you do have multiple talents, the faster you can leverage your skills and the better placed you will be for the modern work place.

How Do You Do That?

1. Don’t be defined by your job title

As I’ve said many times before, you are not defined by your job title and you are not constrained by your departmental function. You’re a multi-talented, multi-faceted individual with a range of skills and talents that are portable – just like Da Vinci.

When you position yourself as a solutions provider who can solve multiple problems across a range of roles and environments, you open yourself to many more opportunities and so avoid being pidgeon holed in one role or one career.

2. Be clear about your unique talents and transferable skills

Your unique talents and transferable skills are at the core of your unique proposition. A key part of what differentiates you from the rest of the crowd – and ultimately what enables you to be mobile across a range of roles and sectors.

So, what are the unique talents and skills you possess? How are they different to your peer group? How can these translate to other roles and functions?

3. Focus on the results of your talents

It’s not what you do or what you know that’s key – but the results of that talent and knowledge that’s most important.
If you can’t demonstrate tangible, commercial benefits that result from your talent, then you’re diluting your success.

So in order to be able to have a Da Vinci style ability to shift across roles and professions, get really focussed on the quantitative and qualitative results you have and can deliver – and how you can flex those across different roles and environments?

4. Be ok with screwing up

Da Vinci may be famous for all the grand paintings and inventions – but if you do your research, you’ll see that he made his fair share of mistakes too. He also had a huge number of projects and paintings that he started, but never completed.

But it was this willingness to start things without fear or the need to be perfect that helped him break new ground and become a success in so many areas.

The same applies to you. Stop trying to be perfect and start experimenting and exploring different roles and functions well before you need to make a change.

5. Open your mind

Leonardo Da Vinci thrived in so many fields because he was open-minded enough to learn and develop himself whilst taping into the latent talents he already possessed. Talents which he adapted to different vocations and pursuits. That’s precisely what you need to be doing.

Without an open mind, none of the points above will mean anything to you. Without a willingness to think differently, this will be nothing more than an ‘interesting article’ that sits in your mailbox or trash folder.

Over the last 500 years, Da Vinci has gained a cult like-status because of he’s ability to succeed in a diverse range of fields. An ability that has us refer to him as a ‘genius.’

But in the coming years, we will all have to become a ‘genius.‘ Being able to tap into a diverse set of talents and applying them to a diverse set of roles, functions, sectors and markets will become a basic requirement for those that succeed. It will be the only way to survive in a modern work-place characterised by global competition, rapid technological change and old industries disappearing overnight – whilst new industries appear out of thin air.

So to survive and thrive, we all need to learn the lessons from Leonardo and tap into our own multiple talents and adapting to them to the changing needs of the market – in much the same way that every firm is attempting to do right now to survive.

In fact, people’s inability to tap into multiple talents will leave pockets of the workforce in certain locations and industries unemployable. Something the multi-talented, recession-proof Leonardo Da Vinci never had to worry about…..