Are you a Multihyphenate? Challenges and Opportunities for People With Multiple Interests Who Want to Produce More Outstanding Work

Keith Hayden
3 min readSep 3, 2022

I’m a multihyphenate. But it’s not all Da Vinci level epiphanies and insights.

Also known as a polymath, generalist, multipassionate, or Renaissance person, this (often self-appointed) label refers to a person with multiple interests who pursues the study or application of them in various ways.

The truth is having multiple interests presents tremendous opportunities. While many are too afraid of pulling on a single thread of curiosity, I’ll tug on it until the entire cloth is unraveled.

However, it also comes with great challenges. These obstacles if not addressed can turn a generalist into an undecisivist (made this up) who gets nothing done.

Here are a few challenges and opportunities I’ve encountered as a multihyphenate.

Challenge 1: It’s hard to decide what to study or do on a daily basis.

Should I compose a song, write, or learn some Slovenian? (Literally had this thought this morning)

Deciding how you spend your time becomes an endless competition between equally compelling options.

Opportunity 1: Connect with more people

Having knowledge of technology, military and online culture (among many others) has made it easier for me to make connections with more people from around the world.

It’s a tremendous force multiplier when used properly.

Challenge 2: Less time for the pleasures of life

This is one I’ve learned to accept over the years. It takes time to research and practice a new skill from scratch.

This time has to come from somewhere. Usually it’s from early mornings, late nights, and weekends.

When others are sleeping, partying, or socializing, you’re working out the difference between major and minor musical intervals.

That’s the polymath life.

Opportunity 2: The ability to solve deeper problems.

The strength of a true multihyphenate is the ability to combine aspects of seemingly unrelated fields to unlock new knowledge.

Unconventional perspectives can lead to breakthrough solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Advantage generalists.

Challenge 3: It’s hard to fit into traditional social and professional structures.

This has been my greatest challenge as a polymath.

Maybe there’s a subReddit or forum for people who completely self-produce audiodrama podcasts. But I’m confident such a gathering place doesn’t exist in a way that would be helpful or a perfect my version polyapplication (made this up too).

Fact: Our society is setup to favor specialization.

I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

If you’re a true Renaissance person, be prepared to live the snow leopard life. Tremendously capable, rarely (truly) seen or understood, usually alone.

Opportunity 3: Ability standout in a positive way

I’ve met many people who have been inspired by my diverse background of skills.

It makes them feel like anything’s possible, like they don’t have to adhere to society’s typical rule structure.

It also dispels some of their fear of trying new things and makes them feel like they can awaken their sleeping generalist within. (There’s never been an easier time in human history to do so.)

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Are you or do you want to be a multihyphenate?

I have ideas for a series of essays titled “How to Multihyphenate” based on my professional and creative experiences.

The plan is to help others learn how to become better more impactful people through various disciplines.

If that’s something you’d be interested in leave a comment. I’d love to hear from other multitalented and passionate people.

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