by Marsha Rakestraw

In her book, The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries, IHE president Zoe Weil invites teachers to ask themselves and their students the following questions as a way to “make school as relevant and meaningful as possible”:

  1. What challenges in the world most concern me?
  2. What do I love to do?
  3. What am I good at?
  4. What do I need to learn?

As Zoe says, “When people discover the place where the answers to the first three questions meet and then seek out the answer to the fourth, they have opened the door to perhaps the greatest possibility for achieving a life of great purpose, meaning, and joy.”

For some of us who want to create a better world, those middle two questions – What do I love to do? and What am I good at? – are simple. Some of us have always known (or quickly discover) that we are meant to be a world changer via writing or being a solutionary doctor or through teaching or starting our own business. The pathway is clear.

But as Emilie Wapnick emphasizes in her TEDx talk, some of us don’t have one true calling.

Some of us love to do (and are pretty good at) a lot of different things. We flit from topic to skill to subject, falling in love for a time and then moving on when something new catches our attention.

As Emilie points out, our culture tells us that this kind of behavior isn’t “normal.” But, she says, “the world needs [multipotentialites]” (as she calls such people). She notes, “We have a lot of complex, multidimensional problems in the world right now, and we need creative, out-of-the-box thinkers to tackle them.”

Watch Emilie’s talk (12:26):


As IHE graduate and online course instructor Lynne Westmoreland said, “This is such an important concept and one I think we, as humane educators, already embrace. But I think this young woman articulates it in such a way that we can expand our awareness around this and encourage our students and colleagues to grow in all of the multi-directional, sometimes seemingly messy, always fascinating ways that are their particular gift to the world.”


Image screenshot via Emilie Wapnick’s TedxBend talk.