“Mom, … when I grow up I want to be a Polymath.”
What did Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Descartes, Voltaire, Marie Curie or Thomas Jefferson have in common? All of them could be considered true Polymaths. This concept, totally unknown to me until now, is developed in a pleasant and practical way in a study carried out on polymathy as a result of the collaboration between the company 3M and Deusto Business School.
Polymath is a Greek term that can be translated as ” who knows many things”. According to the definition of the Real Academia de la Lengua “Polymathy is the wisdom that embraces diverse knowledge”, in other words, polymath is a term that tries to define people with intelligence, wide knowledge on diverse subjects and specially unlimited curiosity.
In addition to what is mentioned before, polymaths are individuals who know how to think creatively, which means, they are able to relate different knowledge or create new ideas from those already acquired.
Nowadays, where the future is increasingly automated, is complex to assimilate large amounts of information eventhough knowledge is available to everyone in a totally democratic way through a click on the cell phone. In this context, the market will demand an increasing number of people who are able to solve complex problems, but with critical, creative and agile thinking.
Therefore, becoming a polymath is presented as the ideal way to meet one of the most repeated needs of companies in search of talent: broad professional profiles, with the ability to perform in different areas, which will result in a high degree of employability for individuals.
How can we try to become polymaths?
The answer might seem simple: studying several careers. But the truth is that obtaining more theoretical knowledge does not seem to be the only and exclusive way to achieve this ability, and thereby increase our employability. Other complementary paths must be:
- Take additional courses to complement your basic training.
- Pursue a Master’s degree related to your career but that allows you to redirect your profession.
- Do volunteer activities to expand your horizons.
- Participate in knowledge exchange forums with other professionals.
- Travel the world acquiring new perspectives and knowledge.
As Alvin Toffler, icon of the digital revolution, said “the illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. When we speak of a polymath we are talking about the capacity for continuous learning and above all the ability to interrelate all theoretical knowledge and multiple personal and professional experiences to develop critical, creative and agile thinking.
In the future, the most valuable employees will be those who can come up with ideas that solve the needs of companies and who are trained in a variety of areas. Only in this way will companies be able to think and act innovatively. According to studies published by the consulting firm McKinsey, “47% of jobs could be performed by robots in the next decade”. However, when people do something special, using their different knowledge and contributing different ways of thinking, it will be difficult for their work to be replaced by a robot.
In conclusion, mastering various disciplines, encouraging creativity and fostering critical thinking should be the basic aspects that will enable innovation and ensure the future of business activity. In the words of Francisco González Bree, one of the co-authors of the aforementioned study, “In 1958, companies had a life expectancy of 61 years, according to S&P, today it is 25 and in a short time it will be 15. But those that have innovation in their DNA, such as 3M [founded in 1902 to focus on mining], will be able to live much longer.”
At Fellow Funders we believe in entrepreneurs and their companies, we are committed to innovation and we try to encourage the creativity and critical spirit of the teams that form the startups and companies in general. Our ultimate goal is to help them and put them in contact with potential investors, always with rigor, professionalism and transparency.
Do you want to help us to promote entrepreneurship in Spain? Do you want to join the Fellow Funders world? We are waiting for you!