Generalist: a person who is knowledgeable in many fields of study
In a world where specializing is revered and honored, the generalist, who can do most things pretty well often feels ignored and unappreciated.That’s just not fair!
How do I know? I know this because I AM one of those generalists. And despite being frustrated at times because I am married to an extremely successful SPECIALIST, it is important to embrace who we each are designed to be, and to maximize THAT!
But first, take a look at how a specialist is a wee bit different:
Specialist: a person who devotes himself or herself to one subject or to one particular branch of a subject or pursuit.
Specialists are people who are known for a skill set that makes them stand out above a crowd. You know, the people who can do complex math in their heads, hit a baseball 3 out of 10 at-bats, or create riches out of dust time and time again. Yes, they should be celebrated for the talents they were born with which they’ve honed through years of practice and use.
But what about those of us (maybe you?) who actually do many different things exceptionally?
Why aren’t we celebrated and honored?
Here are 7 reasons why I think that Generalists deserve more praise and recognition then they get:
1. We are Chameleons. This means because of our vast experiences and knowledge base, we are able to adapt to more situations, and quickly. We fit in a variety of environments, and often seem like we belong there.
2. We are Human Googles. We know a lot of different information from a lot of different topic and subject and therefore become the “go-to” people when others need answers on the fly. My guess is that many past winners of Jeopardy are generalists.
3. We are Resourceful. Consider us the McGyver of the human race. Need a clever way out? We probably have read, seen or done something that will be of use to help you out of your pickle.
4. We have insatiable appetites for learning. The Huffington Posts, ESPN’s, TMZ’s,Info-marketing sites of the world should thank us, because we are the biggest consumers of information on the planet.
5. We can see situations through a variety of lenses. This goes back to the adaptability and chameleon abilities. During conflict, generalists can draw on their vast body of knowledge and experiences to be able to see things from different perspectives, thereby allowing the conflicts to be resolved much quicker.
6. We are Curious and Adventuresome. While many people find comfort in sameness and predictability, the only thing that is comfortable to a generalist is VARIETY. The attitude is always, “Life is too short to do the same things over and over.” We truly are drawn to new learning, experiences, people and skill building.
7. We believe and often prove that we can do just about anything. Call it the Quest of the Generalist, while we may not stick with one project, subject, or topic for a long time, we totally embrace new challenges with the expectation that we will be able to figure out just about anything we want to do or accomplish. Does it always end that way? No, but surprisingly often it does.
8. (Bonus Reason) We make great Trivia Game Team members!
Don’t think that just because I am a generalist that I am the only one who thinks this is actually a great way to be!
Check out what Tim Ferris has to say about it in his article about being a Jack-of-all-Trades and this article that Megan Casserly wrote about Generalists for Forbes
So the next time you find yourself cheering for people who are making a grandiose difference in the world, take a moment to recognize that not everyone who makes a positive contribution will be in the limelight. Generalist contribute in many ways, just not always the most visible or celebrated.
If YOU are a Generalist like me, then here is a “High Five”, and I encourage your to celebrate your amazing skills that make the world a better place!
So what are you, a generalist or a specialist? What is your take on this topic? We’d love to hear what you think about this topic, so be sure and share your comments with us in the box!
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