Foxy lady

About three weeks ago I was chatting online with a friend. ‘Nevermind,’ he typed. ‘It’s probably just TMA.’

‘TMA?’ I queried, wondering if somehow this was a typo for TMI, even though that didn’t make sense in context.

‘Too many aptitudes,’ he explained. And sent me a link.

I flipped browser windows and began reading the article, skimming a bit because it was so long. Right away I could see why this would apply to him; he’s brilliant at a wide variety of things.

But certain phrases popped out at me: “TMAs often don’t fit in well with organizations or groups … They feel that they are anyone’s equal and want to be treated as such … cannot act as if the boss were always right … either domineering or overwhelming in relationships with others …”

“TMAs are usually hypercritical, a side effect of high reasoning aptitudes. They notice flaws and loopholes, errors and inconsistencies. … They are usually good arguers and can tear just about anything to shreds–including themselves.”

That last part? Ask any sweetheart I’ve ever had about my mad arguing skillz.

‘Wow’, I typed back after a few minutes.

‘Yeah. Sorry, I thought you knew.’

‘Not surprising that it describes you, but um, some of it sounds awfully familiar to me, too.’

‘It’s exactly you!’

‘You think so too?’

‘Certainly. “Like onions in a chocolate cake” sound like every job you’ve ever had?’

‘Hahaha. Oddly, I feel almost like crying. … I have a lot of reading to do now.’

•   •   •

“Having a lot of strong talents is a bit like dealing with high voltage. You can do a lot of things with high voltage. However, it can also fry you. … A lot of that voltage for TMAs is emotional. Few people know how to handle normal emotion, let alone powerful, ongoing emotion.”

Um, yeah.

So I started researching this ‘Too Many Aptitudes Problem’. There’s less out there about it than I had hoped. Two life/career coaches have made something like it their focus, and written books, both of which I ordered from the library and read.

First of all, the labels all suck. Making ‘TMA’ into a noun is wrong in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin. One author uses ‘Scanner’, which doesn’t make me think of anything so much as a really bad scifi movie. (Jak points out that it was a bad scifi movie, which mercifully I’ve never seen.) The other uses ‘Renaissance Soul’, which is both a bit too pretentious and vaguely woowoo. And too long for ordinary conversation.

I was so exasperated by the lack of usable label that when I found this blog post I was ready to hug the author.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

Archilochus, 7th century BC

So there we are. I’m a Fox.

And this fox is having a bit of a personal paradigm shift. More on that note later.


  1. 17 Oct 2009 at 5:58 am

    Saw a cartoon once. Showed a fox and a hedgehog on adjacent barstools, both looking a little sloshed.

    The hedgehog says, “They say the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing…. Wanna hear it?”

  2. 19 Oct 2009 at 9:17 am

    My God, you’re 39. That makes me feel old. You know how many times I looked at those naked pictures you put up way back in the day?

    I just had a nostalgia fit and went looking for you and Lance and Maggy, all those people. They’re all gone! Sigh.

  3. 19 Oct 2009 at 11:23 am

    Tell me about it. I feel positively ancient, most days. /sigh

    But no … Lance and Maggy et al are not gone. You need to improve your google-fu!

  4. 19 Oct 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Wow, I really like the phrase ‘serial enthusiast’. I think I need a t-shirt or business cards with that on them.

  5. 19 Oct 2009 at 8:38 pm

    oh ^@%, no paradigm shifts without phone calls or visits!

    will ring as soon as my own personal reality stops undergoing tectonic shifts :P and screw it, I really do have psycho amounts of vacation days socked away. next time jetblue does a sale, I think I need to hop over.

  6. 20 Oct 2009 at 2:12 am

    rob: i like it too, but i’m really more of a ‘parallel enthusiast’.

    case in point: i look at stacy’s comment and i think ‘i wonder if there’s a word for “using random typographical characters to denote cursing”, so off a-googling i go.

    didn’t find an exact answer in the first five minutes (mostly i got a lot of examples of made-up skiffy curse words) but i did find this nifty little tool

    stacy: /lure lure tempt tempt. i tried to call you, but you didn’t answer, she whined …

  7. 21 Jun 2010 at 11:26 am

    It seems like a relative of Polymath, but with an action focus rather than a knowledge focus.

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