Are you a diletante?

by Barrie Hopson on August 25, 2008 · 2 comments

in Uncategorized

In my youth that was one of the worst accusations that could be levelled at you. I recall at the age of 16 my headteacher taking me into his study, sitting me down and saying, “Now, Hopson, unless you settle down and focus, at the end of your life your gravestone will simply say to the world, ‘Barrie Hopson was a diletante'”. Actually, even at the time I thought that didn’t sound at all bad to me. Why wouldn’t I want a life where I tried a bit of this, some of that, laced with masses of new learning and always the prospect of something novel and exciting just over the horizen?

Having a portfolio career now legitimises that desire and is an increasingly used label for a new workstyle. Long live diletantism!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bruce Lynn September 1, 2008 at 12:26 am

I am a big fann of the synergistic and flexible benefits of ‘portfolio working’, but I can’t say that I fully agree with the notion of ‘diletantism’ as an ‘aspiration’. One of the things that people need to guard against in a portfolio approach is being a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. The ‘Jack’ syndrome goes against Seth Godin’s prescription of having ‘remarkable’ qualities. To combine ‘portfolio’ with ‘purple cow’ concepts, I have always advised that portfolio players look to be ‘jack of many trades and master of some.’

2 Barrie Hopson September 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Thank you for this most perceptive comment Bruce. Katie and I in our book pay very special attention to the fact that portfolio careers optimises the chances of being able utilise a greater proportion of what we call motivated skills than is usually the case for a typical single track career. I can see absolutely when I reread my post the reason for your comment. The reason why I am proud to be called a dilettante is that it sums up for me my desire to try out new possibilities and arenas of work so I think we are probably saying the same thing. I also like to use the word as it raises a few eyebrows which then gives an opening for what I want to say next. By the way what is purple cow concept?

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