Finding Comfort Wearing Different Hats

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 06/03/2015

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How comfortable are you being a DaVinci — someone juggling many talents, projects and ideas? Some people love being multi-hyphenates.  My Latin Dance teacher proudly labels herself as a singer/dancer/actor.  (“I’m a triple threat, honey”). Others find themselves feeling scattered or overwhelmed or confused.  The more they can do, the less adequate they feel. (“I’m Jack-of-all-Trades and master of none.”)

The first challenge for DaVincis is to find a comfortable way to juggle different talents and roles. To what extent do you find it fun or easy to flex different skill sets as you juggle different projects? What works for you? Do you like to mix it up, willy nilly, or do you prefer to compartmentalize different activities?

There’s no one ‘right’ way. It’ll depend on your own, unique personality, preferences, experiences, and circumstances. The important thing if for you to find a way to be comfortable and at ease, no matter which hat(s) you are wearing.

For me personally, I find it easier to compartmentalize my time and focus such that I have one priority for a given block of time…while toggling between different projects and roles throughout the week.  At this particular moment, I’m a writer. This evening I will be a metalsmith.  Tomorrow I’ll be a coach in the morning and a teacher in the afternoon…although odds are high that I’ll be wearing both hats at the same time, on and off throughout the day.

This approach might seem way too structured to you.  Or otherwise unappealing. Or impossible to set up, given the demands on you, personally and professionally.

Other people might find what I do confusing and overwhelming. They might be more comfortable focusing on one talent or project for longer periods of time. They may prefer to devoting one week (or more) to one thing before switching priorities. Or maybe they devote weekdays to one main project and delegate some weeknights or weekends to other activities.

If you know what works for you, great. If not, experiment. Give yourself permission to try new approaches until you find a way to participate in the projects, activities, and skill sets that are important to you in a way that feels gratifying and comfortable.

Another aspect of finding comfort wearing different hats is to consider the how you think about yourself. Are you  proud to be a multi-hyphenate like my Latin dance teacher…or do multiple labels make you feel like a dilettante/ flake/jack-of-all-trades, master of none?  If the latter sounds like you, try this:  reverse any negative term you attach to yourself.  For example:  Instead of “flake” you might think of yourself as “multi-talented”.  Instead of labeling yourself’ “ADHD”, you might think of yourself as “interested in many things”. Play around with different terms and phrases until you find a way to frame what you do in a way that feels better.

Extending this a titch:  how do you market yourself, to whom?

“What am I supposed to call myself,” wailed one multi-talented coaching client recently.  “How am I supposed to market all the things I do under one comprehensive umbrella?”  “Maybe you shouldn’t. If it doesn’t come naturally, then it might make more sense to try a more segmented approach by promoting particular skills to each relevant market.”

You have the same choice.  You can market ‘you’ and your unique voice.  Or you can promote yourself in different ways to different audiences.

Here’s a test:  When you meet someone new, how do you describe yourself?  What is your typical answer? To what extent does that change, depending on the circumstances?  How do you label yourself if you’re meeting someone at a PTA meeting versus a party versus an industry event?

If you tend to present yourself the same way, regardless of setting, then it would make sense to market yourself that way — as a general brand to all audiences. If you tend to compartmentalize and segment your talents, then it would be more efficient and effective to do the same with your marketing plans by tailoring your promotions to present specific skills to specific audiences.

There is more than one way to be a DaVinci — to be comfortable wearing different hats and marketing yourself to others. You need to find what works for you, given your own unique preferences, experiences, and circumstances.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Pulsifer June 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Great questions, Liisa. I find I have to compartmentalize most of the time … a writer now, family caregiver this afternoon, a musician tonight. This helps keep me sane.

But every so often I get to merge these things. Like taking my care receiver out when I play music — it’s good for him and good for me too. Think of it like one of those Venn diagrams. What can I do that utilizes several of the talents?

So how do I market myself? Depends on the audience. When pitching writing work I flash just my writing credentials unless these other talents are germane to the project. My main Web site covers the writing but has a separate page for music. The social media pages cover multiple talents.

Linda Ursin August 20, 2016 at 6:07 am

I love being a multi-talented fusion creative 🙂 I usually describe myself as an intuitive artist & creatrix with something up my sleeve 😀
Linda Ursin recently posted..These are my favorite creative tools

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