Being a Universal Man or Woman / by Krista Boivie

During the Italian Renaissance of the 15th-16th centuries, it was common for individuals to develop skills in multiple fields. The term universal or "Renaissance" man was typically used to refer to these individuals.

In c. 1482 Leonardo da Vinci wrote a letter to the Duke of Milan requesting work. The letter is like a resume that lists all of his skills and abilities.  (Click here to see the translation of the letter) Most of what da Vinci writes is a list of his weaponry and construction skills, downplaying his artistic abilities. Today, da Vinci is seen as one of the most innovative men of his times and his painting "Mona Lisa" is the single most recognizable piece of art in the world.  Obviously his art skills cannot be downplayed.

Being a wannabe is my pursuit to become a universal woman--someone good at many things.

I asked my students today to make a list of all their skills and abilities (we are just starting our discussion of the Renaissance) and they all complained that they didn't have any skills.  This was not true, but I know that it can often be difficult to see our strengths--even when it is easy to see them in someone else.

I challenged them to create a list of 100 things they were good at and so I have decided to take the challenge myself.  This weekend I am really going to dive deep and focus on my abilities and see what I am truly made of.

What are your skills or talents?