Passions are like potato chips. No one can have just one.
That’s how we multipotentialites/polymaths/scanners/Renaissance personalities/Jacks and Jills of all trades roll. We flit from one interest to another, picking up a bunch of stuff and diving deep into it, then ditching it, going to the next new thing, then back the old thing again. Repeat cycle ad infinitum.
I’d always been A-OK with my plural nature—until society said that it wasn’t. And it’s still sticking to its guns. There’s always been real pressure to specialize because financial security is top priority, especially if you come from an immigrant community like I do.
I’ve always been a swan in a pond full of ducks. For the longest time, I’ve felt alone and inadequate, being judged for not being able to settle with one thing permanently.
A lot of us multipotentialites have been branded as freaks, slackers, flaky, unfocused, irresponsible, and easily distracted. (SQUIRREL!)
Yes, I’m definitely freaky and guilty of squirrel pursuit, but slacker? Heck, no.
It takes a lot of effort to spin many plates. Multipotentiality isn’t for couch potatoes.
Many pro pet sitters boast advertise that pets are their one true, full-time calling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se. I know many fine specialists who are dear friends and colleagues to me. But it gives folks the wrong impression that only specialists matter. Full-time specialists are often touted as true professionals, the real deal. Everyone else is just a dilettante or a pin money chaser.
However, multipotentialites bring plenty to the table. We all know about Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey, but did you know that there were also significant Renaissance personalities in the animal world?
The famed Albert Schweitzer, a physician, medical missionary, theologian, philanthropist, philosopher, writer, musicologist, and musician, was a vegetarian and champion for animal rights. He was credited for the Prayer for Animals and the Reverence of Life, an ethical concept.
Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, a holistic healing modality and spiritual practice, was a perpetual student of life. A restless soul, he held many diverse jobs and was a scholar of many disciplines including history, medicine, theology, and astrology. His multipotentialite approach in combining universal elements of different spiritual and religious practices, including Christianity and Buddhism, helped shape the practice of Reiki. Although Reiki wasn’t originally practiced on animals, it was eventually incorporated into professions involving pets. Animal Reiki has increasingly become more popular these days. Had Usui been alive today, he’d be probably very pleased to see this!
I am proud to be in the multipotentialite number. This is what makes me different from the rest of the pack. I am not any better than any other pet sitters nor they are better than I am. We all have our individual uniqueness. Different is better than better, as Sally Hogshead points out.
In Time Enough for Love and many of his novels, Robert A. Heinlein makes the case for multipotentiality:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
I may be currently a local pet sitter and house sitter based in Redlands and Riverside, California and surrounding areas, but I like to think globally. In all I do, I like to use my multipotentialite superpowers as my mentor, pal, and fellow multipotentialite Emilie Wapnick highlights in the TEDx talk video below: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability.
This refers to the creation of something new by merging two or more disciplines—a combination of various skills and experiences.
I like to call it link think. (Ironically, my former mentor, a hardcore specialist, coined that term!)
I incorporate my love of the arts—performing arts, visual arts, and literary arts—into my niche of pet service. My blog is a hub for creative self-expression through the written word as well as education and entertainment for animal lovers.
What do holistic health and wellness, the arts, culture, current events, and (gasp) politics have to do with pets?
In my writing, I connect the dots between those seemingly random things.
Holistic health and wellness—body, mind, and spirit
This one is probably the most obvious in connection to pets. Living in the health care mecca of the Inland Empire, I became even more interested in holistic approaches since my bout with chronic environmental allergies beginning three years ago. Then I’ve learned that many pet sitters are struggling with a laundry list of physical, mental, and emotional health issues including pre-existing conditions, burnout, and common wear-and-tear injuries in this line of work, which can possibly affect the quality of service we provide to pet parents. We also aim for the best ways to naturally alleviate the pain and anxiety of our animal friends.
Spirituality is very much connected to natural health. Syncretism is the name of the game. I explore the intersections between them through the lens of Western and Eastern spirituality and schools of thought.
Many musicians are animal lovers. Domestic pets are naturally drawn to music. We musicians like to exchange both humorous and touching anecdotes on how our pets react to music: impromptu howling choir practice, live “pawformances” (ivory-tickling pooches and Nora the Piano Cat, anyone?), and the better-than-ketamine effects of music on pets. I recall Gonzo, my old cocker spaniel, going straight to snoozeland after just a few bars of music. Music lovers and sitters I’ve come across talk about how singing classical lullabies melts anxiety in dogs time and time again.
I come across many sorts of people in this industry, more so than in my previous field. My multicultural background enables me to relate to them and to open their eyes and minds to possibilities that will enhance their lives. Yes, humans are also definitely involved! It’s not just about the pets!
Current events, politics, and philosophy
The ultimate bugaboo in the pet industry! So far, no pet care pros dare to discuss this on their blog, but they’ve been voicing their concerns in online communities. The alarming trend of overregulation and overall erosion of freedom will no doubt affect the capacity and extent of pet care services. As a free market fan, it’s pretty disconcerting to see a number of sitters contemplating government force as a way to eliminate perceived competition from big corporations (Rover.com, Care.com, etc.) and the hobbyists next door.
I’ve covered some of the above topics on blog archive of my old site, but more blog posts or articles on those subjects are in the works, so sit and stay tuned!
We pet sitters learn on the job. Other than the ongoing training from my involvement in professional pet care communities, I’d never taken a class prior to starting a pet sitting service. I’ve taken mostly courses in the School of Hard Knocks, and I still have plenty to learn as long as I live. As a natural perpetual student and beginner typical of multipotentialites, I am up to the task. Constant improvement is a lifelong goal. My love of learning many things helps me serve pet parents better by keeping abreast of new developments and honing new skills. To stay competitive, I’m on a crash course of marketing, particularly content marketing and SEO best practices to promote pet services. These skills will come in handy should I branch out into other fields, which I plan to do anyway as a multipotentialite! I’ve also added Reiki into my repertoire for reasons I’ve mentioned on an earlier paragraph regarding health and wellness. I’m also exploring homeopathy and the use of essential oils. I’ve also picked up pet CPR and first aid—standard, mainstream medical skills—to provide the best service possible. Living in a community of health care professionals and having had an involuntary brief stint in nursing school, I’m pretty familiar with CPR.
There are times when pet sitters have to think on their feet. There isn’t any typical day or assignment. No animal is alike. Each has its own quirks. There’s never a dull moment. You never know what the day will bring. Pet sitters are prepared to work day or night, rain or shine, and deal with many snafus—animal attacks, leaking gas, alarm malfunction, and escaping pets. Contrary to popular belief, this is no small feat. Being responsible for homeowners’ property and pets isn’t something I take very lightly. Your peace of mind is number one priority.
Switching gears frequently is a normal part of my life, and I’ve come to embrace that. Unstable, unpredictable economic climate has also forced me to do so starting from the Great Recession onwards. I tried a number of things to no avail. My wilderness experience unexpectedly took me to a rather interesting detour—the adolescent pet industry. I never knew that it existed. I didn’t even know any soul, professional or hobbyist, who was familiar with the industry, except for my friend who introduced me to it in a way. I had no time to consult anyone, let alone form some sort of business plan. I had to pay the bills. They couldn’t wait. I just flew by the seat of my pants. I learned as I went, and here I am now.
My previous background in music education prepared me for this impromptu career change. Like many private music teachers, I was responsible for young charges. I learned to earn trust from their parents, so winning the confidence of pet parents is a naturally easier transition for me. (Truth be told, I’ve always much preferred the company of four-legged kids!) In my piano studio, I also had to juggle admin work, advertising, scheduling lessons and consultations, among many tasks, which are similar to what I’m doing in my pet service. I’m no stranger to meet-and-greets and contracts.
Of course, being a musician, improvisation is a normal thing to me! Unexpected situations in pet or house sitting require me to come up with creative, off-the-cuff solutions.
I’ll certainly apply what I’ve learned from time spent in different fields, including the pet industry, to my future efforts.
Regardless of your personal preferences and life path, does all this resonate with you? What’s your story? Hit me up on the comments below or the contact page!
Photo credit: www.nigel-roberts.info (Schweitzer)