Mastery of Multiplicity

Mastery or Multiplicity

Celebrating the Art of Wearing Many Hats - By Emma Smallman

Reading time: 4 minutes

The other weekend I was listening to the radio. The show was celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop, and a DJ played an epic live mix, chronologically tracing through each decade of music. He said putting it together was like doing a thesis. The mix was incredible, he whipped through a vast number of tunes and to my ears it was seamless. It really got me thinking, this guy must be able to dedicate so much time to music and it shows, he’s an expert, a master in his craft.

On the Monday morning, I looked in my diary at the week ahead, bursting at the seams with an array of commitments requiring so many different hats, and felt like I was about to start a marathon. I wondered, longingly, how it would be to immerse yourself solely into one discipline.

When I was training to be a yoga teacher, the book ‘Mastery’ by Robert Greene was on the reading list. I absolutely loved it and I remember thinking, oh heck it’s going to an extremely long time before I get anywhere even close to yoga mastery! The first few years of doing something new, that requires skill, can sometimes make you want to propel yourself into a future where you’ve nailed it. I remember feeling that when I first started teaching yoga, how desperate I was to stop sounding like a strange nervous robot teacher and instead wished that I could channel my authentic self and voice.

My brother said to me at the time, “what would you actually want though, a magic wand to be able launch yourself 10 years down the line where you can just teach really well and not have had any of the journey getting there?”. That stuck with me, the character building experiences we go through on the way are all the building blocks for the knowledge and insight so crucial for our growth. Since then, I have been much more able to embrace the process, knowing you must start somewhere, it would be unnatural for you to excel immediately.

It’s the journey I am on now with DJing, and it involves putting yourself out there even when you don’t feel ready. A definition of Mastery in the dictionary is “comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity”. Comprehensive being key, and that takes time, there are no short cuts.

Mastery is one thing, so what’s my reference of ‘multiplicity’ about? We live in the age of ‘entrepreneurs’ where the culture of staying in one job for life seems ever more distant and fading. Are we at risk of becoming a jack of all trades and master of none? Or is a multiplicity of skills and areas of interest a by-product of modern living and of benefit to our wellbeing?


To reflect on my own choices, I am on the multi discipline track right now. The hats I wear include founder of a wellbeing brand, dance fitness instructor, actor, facilitator, yoga teacher in prisons, probation and the recovery community, DJ, radio presenter and a side hustle writer. I do have a lot of interests, which become hobbies, then turn into some new enterprise.

It’s not that I am flighty, I don’t jump from one new thing to another, instead I keep adding more to the collection. The versatility affords incredible opportunities to meet and work with a diverse range of people and many of the skills are transferable. When we play different roles, we increase our ‘role repertoire’ which can make for well-rounded individuals. The chosen path of multiplicity is one fuelled by passion and purpose and that sometimes comes at a price in terms of energy levels.

But what if I wanted to become a master, surely, I would need to pick one? I started to challenge myself to pick an area and zone in, would it be possible? I realised that was difficult, I really love all the work and as a child free woman I have more time to dedicate to my projects than lots of my peers which I am keen to put to good use.

So, then I reframed all the inner dialogue on the matter and decided instead to surrender to becoming a different type of MOM, a Master of Multiplicity! Maybe you are too. So, let’s celebrate all sizes of hat collections and allow the words of Sophia Bush remind us that “you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously” whatever routes you choose.


Emma Smallman

The founder of 'drum n bounce & dubstretch fitness' providing uplifting drum & bass aerobics and flow yoga to mainstream and marginalised populations.