When I subtitled the first edition of The Leonardo Trait “Living the Multipassionate Life,” I got a few raised eyebrows and an occasional sly remark. I almost wished I had been talking about that kind of passion; I probably would have sold a few more books.
But the core of The Leonardo Trait lies in the idea that Leonardos do have multiple interests—passions. Multipassionate lives are what set Leonardos apart. The natures of these play no role in Leonardo-ness; their existence is what matters. The defining characteristic is that Leonardos pursue a multitude of interests, all at once, and with a fierce dedication and energy.
One way the multiple passions of the Leonardo Trait appear in life is a racing creative brain and enthusiasm for almost every new project that presents itself.
In the first edition of this book, I phrased it like this: Are you extremely prone to thought, imagination and action? Do you find yourself taking on a slew of projects, including some very ambitious undertakings and some things that you aren’t sure you’ll ever finish? Is your first response almost always, YES? Guess what? You’re a Leonardo!
Passions, Not Just Interests
I want to emphasize that when I say “multiple passions,” I don’t just mean multiple interests. Most people have more than one interest. I truly mean multiple passions, in that Leonardos get deeply and passionately excited about every project they take on.
As I was working on this section of The Leonardo Trait the first time, I stopped to count the projects on my radar at that time. These included not only projects I was working on, but those I planned to work on soon, or had agreed to do for someone else. I said, in the book, “My current project count is 17, but it’s early in the week. In fact, after I made my list and wrote the preceding section, I discovered a short film shooting in my city, and offered my services shooting still photos. Haven’t heard back yet, but that would be so cool.”
In the end I didn’t get to shoot photos on the movie set, but I very much wanted to. I got as excited about that project as I was about the 18 already on my plate.
This is what “multipassionate” means. It’s the photographer who competes in international bicycle races. It’s the storyteller who teaches preschool, and the professional speaker who built her own art studio in her home.
If you are a multipassionate creator, a Leonardo, you know it. You recognize yourself in this portrait, and you know you’re different.
But you’re not just different. You’re also very special. My first goal in writing about Leonardos was to deliver that message. You’re not weird. You’re not an oddball. You’re not eccentric. You’re special.
I want to hammer home this special quality because, as Leonardos, we tend to not believe it.
I tend to feel very embarrassed when someone finds out how fast I can write. I can write 72 words a minute, when I’m really focused and don’t have to do research. I’m convinced if I could type 80 words a minute I could write 80 words a minute, but beyond that I’m not so sure.
I feel like a freak when people find out I can write three to four times faster than the average person. It’s almost as if I’m too good at it. I feel as if there’s some level of good that’s acceptable, and then my Leonardo brain puts me up in the freak seats.
All of these passions and projects and enthusiasms—they’re who we are. They’re who we’re supposed to be.
If having 17 projects going at one time is too much for you, if it tires you out and wears you down and breaks your spirit, don’t do it.
On the other hand, if you feel more alive with 17 projects than with one project, find 16 more.
Always do what feels right to your Leonardo soul without overtaxing your Leonardo brain.
Photo Courtesy of Gratisography. Image created by Angie Dixon.