You Are So Single-Dimensional

“Do one thing and do it well” was a constant refrain, consistent advice when I was young. I was fortunate to receive contrasting advice. While a high school junior, my school principal, whom I knew fairly well, asked me where I planned to go to college and what I planned to study. I told him I always wanted to be a lawyer. He reminded me that I needed to make college choices first. I knew that but really hadn’t focused on it. He recommended that I consider majoring in accounting, and so I did. The combination of law and accounting proved valuable, and I felt indebted to him for leading me to that multi-dimensionalism.

            By the way, years later, he told me his reason for so counseling me: his dream had been to be an FBI Agent, and they were hiring people with those dual degrees. Fortunately, that strange motive didn’t adversely affect my result.

            Most people, when they hear “multi-dimensional,” think it refers to 3-D movies or even 3-D comic books. When I use the word “multi-dimensional,” I mean something quite different, namely the combination or congruence of two or more areas of study, such as medicine and computer science, law and accounting, or art and science.

            For decades I have lectured students and advised clients on the ability to expand opportunities through multi-dimensional applications. More recently, my tone switched. Single-dimensional is passé; so last century.  Multi-dimensionalism is no longer proposed as an option; it has become an imperative.

Lest you think multi-dimensionalism is something new, it’s actually been a factor for millennia, with growing importance, frequency and relevance as education and communication improved. DaVinci’s multi-dimensionalism is renowned and was totally unique. A more recent example, mentioned in my new book, Visionarie$ Are Made Not Born, is the fascinating story of Kay Koplovitz.

In the 1960s, Kay Koplovitz had learned about TV operations by working at the TV station at her school (University of Wisconsin).  Then, while traveling in Europe, she heard a lecture about geosynchronous orbiting satellites and the speaker’s vision of some possible applications of that science.  She was fascinated and changed her plans, switching to Michigan State University, where she could pursue a master’s degree in geosynchronous orbiting satellites.

With her MS degree in hand, she was one of but a few people, likely the only woman, who understood both geosynchronous orbiting  satellites and television.  She pursued a career where that multi-dimensionalism would be valuable, where she could become a successful visionary.  She took a job at USA Network.  Her multi-dimensionalism did indeed prove valuable, as she applied it to developing global TV transmissions, including such early shows as “Thrilla From Manila,” the boxing match that re-launched the career of Muhammad Ali.

Sometimes it is sufficient to partner with someone who has complementary skills, two single dimensional people combining with a multidimensional force. To do that, you must first answer two questions: What are your skills? What complementary skills do you need to achieve your vision?