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Are all mavericks naturally multi-hyphenate?

Are all mavericks naturally multi-hyphenate? This is a shorter piece of writing than normal for Maverick Paradox Magazine. My excuse, a broken arm. A first in terms of life experience. And certainly limiting in terms of physical typing and writing but allowing for more time to read and internet explorations. 

Browsing through my Kindle library, during this temporary phase of having only one workable arm, I came across Emma Gannon’s book, published in mid-2019, ‘The Multi-Hyphen Method’. This brought me to the question posed in the title of this article. For me, given that most mavericks don’t like to be defined, and prefer to define themselves, I would propose that most mavericks are naturally multi-hyphenate. But what do you think, as readers of the Maverick Paradox Magazine?

Firstly, here’s how Emma describes the multi-hyphenate lifestyle and espoused set of choices: 

Being a multi-hyphenate is about choosing and strategising a plan of attack and having the freedom to take on multiple projects, not being backed into a corner. This is about choosing a lifestyle. This is about taking some power back into our own hands. The multi-hyphenate lifestyle is about having a mishmash of projects going on with different income streams attached that make up a salary, instead of it coming from one source. 

Sure, it makes the ‘What do you do?’ question harder to answer, but your identity becomes less about what your singular job title is. It becomes more about who you are, what you are interested in, what pays the bills and what your hobbies are. All these things make up your different ‘hyphens’. You are a career chameleon, changing and moulding yourself to different projects. It’s an important topic, work, as we spend so long doing it and even though it doesn’t necessarily define who we are, it does make up a large proportion of what we do with our days.”

So, it could be argued that multi-hyphenates are the younger generation of workers who espouse the values of freedom and flexibility in their careers; those of any generation who rail against the concept and imposed expectation of ‘one job/one career’, or those in later life, 45+ onwards, who are forced through the necessity of ageism and inflexibility of work structures, to reinvent and reimagine their careers. 

Are all mavericks naturally multi-hyphenate?

The strong likelihood for mavericks to be multi-hyphenate types becomes even more apparent on browsing Judith’s own book [1] on the nature of mavericks, ‘The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders’. In discussing, the common maverick trait, ‘Openness to Experience’, Judith [2] identifies the following: 

“ … mavericks are likely to be more creative, curious, and aware of their feelings than other people. They are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs or ideas and prefer novelty over routine. Mavericks hate any routine determined by others with a passion and are always searching for new challenges.”

Judith Germain – The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders

Maybe it is the case that the hard-core ‘open to experience’ mavericks who have a strong need to define their own work identity and routine are the most natural multi-hyphenates. These mavericks embrace multi-hyphenate life through a natural affinity to its values, underpinned by their own set of maverick values and drive for freedom. 

Nevertheless, in this world where we are all more likely to get to 100 years old, and where the question of traditional retirement often morphs into necessary reinvention or re-imagining of second and third phase careers, we also see ‘Modern Elders’ (as described by Chip Conley in his recent book, ‘Wisdom at Work’) embracing multi-hyphenate values later in their working life. Perhaps, not because it is their first choice, as with the Open to Experience mavericks, but because it is their only choice in a brutal working world. Modern Elders, as described by Conley, experience an emancipation from others’ expectations, that allows them to transcend needless conventions’. In other words, they are mavericks, reborn. And in this case, mavericks with depth of work experience and life wisdom alongside humility and openness of spirit and mind. 

When you see that Emma Gannon describes the multi-hyphenate lifestyle as the “straight-up refusal to be pigeonholed in the modern working world” and as, “rebelling against being a) defined by what generation you fall into and b) mindlessly following someone elses path”, you can begin to sense a natural affinity with the maverick spirit here. 

So, what do you think? Do you feel that most mavericks will be the most natural multi-hyphenates?

And what are you, or could you be? Maverick? Multi-hyphenate? a Maverick/Multi-Hyphenate hybrid? or someone who is beginning to see how mastering and re-purposing the dual concepts of a maverick nature and multi-hyphenate lifestyle can promote far greater personal and economic work freedom than you could ever have imagined? 


[1][2] Germain J, The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders PublishNation 2017

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Bernie Ritchie
Bernie Ritchie
Bernie Ritchie is a coach and former marketeer. She is a trained transformation coach, health coach, NLP practitioner, MBA and mentor on the Warwick Business School mentorship programme.

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