On Renaissance Souls and The Perfect Jobs {A Book Review}

The Renaissance SoulTitle: The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One
Author: Margaret Lobenstine
Published: 2006
Content: 320 pages, 12 chapters in 5 Parts, with quizzes and other resources
Subject: Career development; Vocational guidance

Have you always known what you wanted to do with your life? Or, are you someone who has wondered what it's really like to want to have it all? Do you cringe when you have to choose just ONE absolute passion, knowing inside you that you have more than just one passion? More than one source of bliss?

Specialisation is something that I've always wondered about. The way our current society views work tend to celebrate the 'specialists' and downplay the 'generalists'. That's why we talk a lot about niche and branding.

Somehow, though, I've struggled with that idea on a personal level. I mean, don't get me wrong. I applaud the Mozarts and the people who DO have one path, one true passion. It's great. But, no matter how hard I tried to prune my passions, more branches seem to shoot out. That's why I talked about the problem with branding a few years ago. And, I even revisited this topic again and again.

In the end, I ended up asserting a similar sentiment to that of Robert A. Heinlein's about specialisation. In fact, that's when I coined the term "Slash and Dash Professional" in my search for The Perfect JobS.

I am quite pleased with that stance. Well, most of the time anyway.

You see, the tug of niche, branding and specialisation still poke me every now and then. Especially when I encounter comments like, "I don't believe that someone can have more than just one or two passions in life. People who say that they do are just fibbing." Or, "People without one strong brand or niche will be long forgotten and ignored."

Something inside me turns inside out when faced with such statements. It makes me wonder what's so wrong to want to have it all? What's the matter with celebrating change and evolution? Embracing growth and constant learning? Applauding multi-tasking and well-rounded personalities? I really like this quote by a cerain Laurie Jadrick, as mentioned in the book:

"To be an industry leader, a business needs to attract and hire people who have sought out change and embraced it and grown from it."

Well, during one of those heavy poking sessions and stomach turning moments, I ended up discovering the book, The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine.

It wasn't an A-HA moment when I read this book, seeing as it's a topic that I've done a lot of personal work in. But, it was definitely a WOW moment.

It's a relief to know that someone doesn't just believe in the same things that I do about the subject. She has actually written a book and developed a system to help others in the same boat. It's an amazing discovery to find out that someone in the world is coaching and speaking on the topic of multi-talents/multi-interests.

I also love that Margaret showed a different aspect to this type of personality. I mean, I've always just thought of Leonardo Da Vinci as THE ultimate model in renaissance practice. However, that thought was more intimidating than comforting. It's like, my inner critics would dangle taunting words like: "Well, you're not quite Da Vinci, are you?!" In her book, Ms Lobenstine shares many other 'reasonable' models - Ben Franklin, Florence Nightingale, and several clients she has worked with, among others.

Other than stories and real life examples of fellow renaissance souls, she also developed and shared various activities to help readers come up with an interesting "life design" that's not restrictive. She encourages readers to take a closer look in to one's values- and a total acceptance of who one is in order to grow and thrive as a renaissance soul. Ms Lobenstine says:

"To get anywhere truly satisfying in our lives,
we have to be true to who we are,
not who we might wish to be."

Some of the things that Ms Lobenstine asserts in the book:

1) Being a renaissance soul doesn't mean becoming scattered and unfocused. In fact, a well-developed renaissance soul will be very focused and determined.

2) Being a renaissance soul is not about jumping from one thing to another. It means knowing how to make one's multiple talents and interests work for you (and the people you work for, as the case may be) - not against you or anyone else.

3) Embracing your renaissance soul will enable you to succeed in more ways than one, on a personal and professional level.

So, bottomline: Do I recommend this book?

Well, let's put it this way - I've talked about this book quite passionately with two friends. Both times, they responded very positively.

So yes, ever since I read this book, the way I look at myself and my interests have been transformed. Now, more than ever, I am determined to enrich and to nurture my renaissance soul. And, I am more than happy to help anyone else who might need the same encouragement and growth.

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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