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How to be a modern day Renaissance Man (or woman...)

Updated on February 29, 2012

Fountain Of Neptune In Front Of Palazzo Vecchio

Be a Modern Day Renaissance Man (or Rennaissance Woman) without the stone and chisel. You don't necessarily need to be a great artist to be considered a Rennaissance Man or Woman!
Be a Modern Day Renaissance Man (or Rennaissance Woman) without the stone and chisel. You don't necessarily need to be a great artist to be considered a Rennaissance Man or Woman!

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How can I be a Renaissance Man? I can barely draw a stick figure...

You don't necessarily need to be a great artist to be a modern day Renaissance Man. Sure, it would be nice to find out you have the skills to sculpt a work of art like the Fountain Of Neptune In Front Of Palazzo Vecchio (pictured to the right), but this is not a requirement to becoming a Renaissance Man (If you are a female, you can be a Renaissance Woman, but for the remainder of this article, I will be sticking to the masculine version just to keep things simple...)

While most people consider a "Renaissance Man" to be a great artist, architect, philosopher, mathematician, or inventor, they are not really acknowledging the true definition of a Rennaisance Man, which is a "Man of the World" or "Universal Man". A real Renaissance Man is one who's interest span beyond that of one or a couple of different subjects.

Famous Renaissance Men

Some of the most famous Renaissance Men over time include Leonardo DaVinci, Ben Franklin, Galileo, Michaelangelo (Buonarrotti), Isaac Newton, and Danny Devito (obviously this is a joke recognizing the 1994 Penny Marshall comedy... which really is not a terrible movie).

How to be a Modern Day Renaissance Man

To be a Modern Day Renaissance Man you have to be willing to try to learn new things. It's easy to be self-conscious and just sit back and stick to the things that society has told you are good at, but taking this road is too easy. You should be willing to get out there and improve yourself by trying new things.

I think there are 3 keys to developing yourself into a Renaissance Man:

1. Don't be Afraid of Failure.

"I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison

Being afraid of failure is like being afraid of oxygen. It's all around you, and holding your breath is not going to solve the problem.

2. Try New Things Every Day.

"Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first." - Frederick B. Wilcox

Most people learn best by doing. So go out there and do new things... good things will surely follow...

3. Do Everything to the Best of Your Ability.

"Everything worth doing is worth overdoing." - Mick Jagger

Put effort into everything you do. Life is short, so make the most of it.

Some things I have done in my effort to become a Modern Day Renaissance Man

I love a challenge and am enamored by trying an learning new and exciting things. Below I have listed a few of my favorite things that I have tried in my effort to become a Modern Day Renaissance Man. I truly believe that each of these experiences have helped me to grow as a person. Some were silly, some enlightening, some which made me realize I don't want to ever try it again... but I tried them all and I learned from them all, and I hope to continue living this way.

Making Beer:

"Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."
-Winston Churchill

Making beer is a very tedious process. It is also somewhat expensive if you have to buy all your own equipment. It also takes a fair amount of time and when you are finished you might just find that the beer is average at best. This said, making beer is awesome! It is really a lot of fun to go shopping for the supplies and figuring out which type of beer style you are going to brew. You have to be fairly precise with your measurements, and be careful to follow the various protocols on how to sterilize all of your equipment. It is a great way to spend time with friends and family and when your beer is finally ready to drink, it gives you a great sense of accomplishment. I think it is a lot of fun to time my beer making sessions around the holidays so that I can give them out as little Christmas gifts, or bring to a Fourth of July Barbeque along with the story of how I made it.

Some of you are probably surprised I didn't choose to go with the Benjamin Franklin quote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.". Well, obviously I didn't forget about it, but thought it would serve a better purpose leading into the next item on my list (Talking about Religion).

Talking about Religion:

"Born Again?! No, I am not. Excuse me for getting it right the first time" - Dennis Miller

While I do not agree with the message in the quote above, I still feel okay about quoting a dissenting opinion from someone who under his own admission is not a Christian but does believe in a God. I could have taken it a step further with a quote from Bill Maher, the vocal aethiest, but people tend to become uncomfortable when people give their opinion on religious extremes, so I stuck with an agnostic quote to hopefully keep you reading (please do...).

Why are people so uncomfortable talking about religion, especially the more extreme viewpoints? Creating an open dialouge allows people to voice their own opinions and also learn about other peoples views on the subject. I was raised Catholic, and I can logically assume that this upbringing has predisposed me to believe a certain way. The same is true to someone who was born into a traditional Jewish household, practice the Islamic faith, are Buddhist, Jehovah's Witnesses, or an atheist family. The personal experiences you have over the course of your childhood have an extreme impact on the values you decide to be important as an adult. However, this natural predisposition should not necessarily lead us view religion complacently. By taking the time to exchange viewpoints with someone of a different faith, you might just be able to expand on your own personal beliefs. This is a good thing! Simply deciding that your faith is the only faith and that you don't need to expose yourself to other religions is just stubborn and small-minded. After talking and learning about other religions, and examining your own, you very well may still have the same take on God, the afterlife, and the purpose of life, but at the very least you had the courage to hear another side of the story.


"Gambling: the sure way to get nothing for something." - Wilson Mizner

´╗┐While I am sure that some of the people reading this will disagree, I don't think that gambling occasionally is a terrible thing. There are many different forms of gambling, from the slot machines and blackjack tables in Vegas, to the various stocks and mutual funds available on Wall Street and through your securities broker, starting a business, and even the spouse you chose. I think that all gambling should be done in moderation with a realization of the possible risks, but the bottom line is that when the risk is worth the reward, it doesn't hurt to go for it once in a while.

´╗┐Starting your own Business:

You can start your own business. You don't have to necessarily drop your 9-5 job, but I would highly advise anyone who is interested in being their own boss, to look into starting a side business. It takes a lot of work, but building your own business is a very rewarding experience which I would not trade for the world. In addition to supplementing your regular income, starting a new small business can teach you a variety of skills. Setting and achieving goals, marketing, filing required licenses/documents, submitting payroll taxes, registering for an EIN, learning to interview, sales calls, identifying prospects and following up on leads, budgeting, establishing an LLC, and the various other day-to-day aspects of starting your own business are great skills to have. You will most likely be able to apply these business skills to your regular job, thus making yourself invaluable as an employee and harder to replace.

Starting your own business can be as simple or complex as you are willing to make. Simply starting an account with hubpages and writing to make money online is a relatively easy way to start your own business (and you can treat it as a business... it may be enjoyable to write and read the other hubs, but some simple business planning can make you successful at writing for money online!).

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"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only a page" - St. Augustine

I would encourage everyone to travel. Even if a trip to Argentina, Russia, or Australia, is currently beyond your budget, you can still travel to nearby locations that you have never been before. I have been to a few different countries outside of the U.S., and while my favorites were Trinidad and Tobago, and Europe (mostly London... My profile picture is actually from that trip), I have also had very fun and interesting trips to nearby Canada and Mexico. In addition, I have seen some other great States beyond my home state of Michigan. I recently took a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, but also routinely venture to the nearby States of Illinois and Ohio for weekend getaways. Traveling doesn't need to be expensive. Some of my most memorable trips only cost me a few tanks of gas and picking up the tab for a dinner of the friends or family members that put me up for my mini-vacation.

Start a Garden:

"A good garden may have some weeds" - Thomas Fuller

Learning how to create your own dinner by starting with a couple of different seeds, some dirt, a little water, fertilizer, and fair amount of time, is an amazing thing. It really makes you appreciate all that it takes to create the everyday foods that we consume. I think that being self-sufficient is a wonderful thing, and learning how to create your own food is large part of self-suffiency. Starting a garden is a great way to feed yourself helathy vegetables (and fruits, if you choose), without having to rely on others. Even a small garden with 5 to 10 different healthy veggies can make a big difference to your budget and your health.


"A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend." - Author Unknown

Reading is fundamental. Do you remember hearing that in middle school? Well, it's true. Learning new things is easy if you are a reader. You can peruse old classics like The Grapes of Wrath, learn about how to wire a house, read about Steve Jobs' life, or entertain yourself with short stories in Reader's Digest. There really is no limit... Any interest you may have is already somewhere out there, transcribed into text, waiting for you to learn more about it.

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