Most college career advisors wouldn’t know what to do with Leonardo da Vinci.
He didn’t fit the mould of today’s “high achievers” — going to school for law, medicine, or management, and then dedicating himself to that discipline.
Instead, he was a wide achiever, to use the words of “How to Find Fulfilling Work” author Roman Krznaric.
“In any one week,” Krznaric tells Business Insider, da Vinci “might be painting a portrait for an artistic patron or designing an engineering device for a power hungry duke from Milan — and then on the weekends doing anatomy experiments.”
Da Vinci was, as they say, a Renaissance Man.
Nowadays, we call that approach being a portfolio worker, where you do several jobs at the same time. You could be freelancing articles to magazines and running digital strategy for a brand during the week, and then teaching yoga and cooking classes on the weekend.
While being spread that thin might sound unstable, Krznaric contends that it’s not.
“In an era where nobody’s jobs are secure anymore,” he says, “spreading the risk across several portfolio jobs is probably quite a smart move to make.”
Krznaric speaks from experience. After getting his Ph.D. from Essex University, he taught at Cambridge University before doing human rights work in Central America. He cofounded the School of Life in London, a place where people learn emotional intelligence and get coached on career transitions.
He’s also written books, like “How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life” and “Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It.” In addition to giving talks, he’s about the launch the Empathy Museum, a travelling exhibition designed “for stepping into the shoes of other people and looking at the world through their eyes.”
One thing he’s learned is that when you’re managing three careers at once, you need to be adept at selling yourself — something da Vinci did quite well.
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