Well I would like to argue that in the case of Renaissance women (and men), more is more.
If you look at the modern age we live in, sometimes it seems that more is… well, way too much! Too much information, too much social media, too many choices, too much stimuli all around!
However, also given the world we live in, the person who can flexibly move from one skill to another, from one discipline to another, who is more equipped, in other words, to handle that constant stream of stimuli is probably at a distinct advantage over the highly focused and specialized individual who can’t.
The other advantage of having multiple skills is how that helps a person survive in an increasingly uncertain and shifting world. Gone are the days when someone graduates from college, goes into their first professional job, and then stays at that job for their entire working lives. Statistically, the normal person in the 21st century will hold an average of 10 jobs in a lifetime, and this number appears to be growing. Considering these jobs will most likely differ from each other, at least in some respects, the person who has more skills will likely be able to adapt to a number of jobs – and thus be much more employable.
And let’s not forget the pleasure factor. Certainly someone who is intensely focused in one area can experience great satisfaction and pleasure from their work, especially if it is their passion. (Think of the scientist, happily laboring year after year at the microscope, trying to crack a particular conundrum, looking for that singular discovery that will perhaps change the world.) But for those happy folks who have many passions, their lives are often rich, stimulating, exciting, and above all, never boring. As Margaret Wertheim, one of our RenWomen featured in our book says: “I never get bored because there are just so many things in the world that are interesting and… I wish I had about three life times!” We couldn’t agree more, Margaret!