Leonardo Da Vinci epitomises the renaissance. His paintings are like none that preceded them. The life-like nature of the faces he painted, set upon captivating, and sometimes haunting, backgrounds set him apart from his peers – he was a genius.
Leonardo did not stop there. He progressed Biology, Engineering, Mathematics, Languages, was unbelievably fit, planned parties, masterminded war and defence strategies. In short, he was a polymath.
Polymaths have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning. They are skilled at many things, often in seemingly unrelated areas. Polymaths cultivate scientific, artistic and physical aspects of their development simultaneously – they do not just concentrate on one area of their lives.
The vast majority of Europe underwent the industrial revolution not long after Leonardo’s death. Farming techniques advanced and the world shrank with the advent of faster transportation. These opened up trade routes with far away places, and exploded the demand for goods. To keep up with demand, factories sprung up across the UK. Factories characterised the industrial revolution, and demand for workers to man these factories increased.
UK went to work on a grand scale, often with massive communities built around these factories. The work force became specialised: people had one job, and they had to do it well. This specialisation continued into the 20th century, with massive corporations taking over the country’s landscape. These corporations again required specialist workers, each required to excel in one job.
The internet is changing this. Companies are becoming more accountable to the public, as lines of communication are open like never before. Bad service gets publicity straight away through social media. A company can no longer hide behind the strength of its size – they are now accountable.
Organisations can spring up in a matter of seconds – companies such as Facebook and Twitter. Organisations that reshape the entire climate within which we live. Organisations such as Apple who have changed the way we behave.
The speed at which the corporate climate develops is reflected in the types of jobs that are on offer. The skillset required by today’s workforce is ever changing. There is no such thing as a job for life: no-body can define the competitive landscape for long enough to predict what jobs are required.
People now embark upon “portfolio careers”. People are hopping from job to job, collecting a portfolio of experiences and skills that can make them successful in their next post.
And that is why this is the new renaissance.
A thirst for learning and self-development is now a necessity. A broad skill set is required to be successful. No longer is it acceptable to stay in one niche and idle through your career until retirement. Your finger needs to be well and truly on the pulse. You need to become au fait with new technology sharpish, circumnavigate the complex social infrastructures of the modern company, stay healthy (as you will now be working until 70), stay mentally sharp, and be creative at solving novel and ever changing problems.
Creativity stems from an ability to make connections that other people cannot. This is entrenched in experience. The more experience and knowledge a person has, the more expansive their “mental landscape” is. A “mental landscape” is the topographical layout of all of your knowledge and experiences. A person who can journey between places upon this landscape will be the most creative – a person who has developed more “locations” upon this surface will solve the most problems.
Locations are developed by continuous learning., exploring many fields and creating through as many experiences as you possibly can.
Learn a language, learn to play an instrument, read books, take an online course, travel, cook, play a new sport, talk to new people – all of these activities increase your “mental landscape”. This will in turn directly increase how employable you are.
Become the new da Vinci. Span many intellectual areas, be the modern day renaissance man.