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It’s Time to Celebrate the Generalist Again!

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Lately I have been bombarded with messages to be a Specialist.  It’s the answer.  Narrow your niche.  Only talk to those people that need your specialty.  But here I sit – a generalist.  I find pride in knowing about a lot of things.  I am interested in so many different things and I enjoy learning about all of them.  The thought of only studying one thing, one subject – is claustrophobic to me.  I can’t even imagine cutting myself off of so much great material.

But society is telling me another story.  Have you looked at job postings lately?  They want a very definite one-subject person with YEARS of experience in the same position.  I can’t even imagine that life anymore.  I know when I was that person I was bored, frustrated and desired to do more.  I have always wanted to do more. 

When I was young and eager to learn about all things business it was a definite plus to my employer – no new technology went undiscovered, I was tireless in learning new software, new ideas in management, whatever they needed I would learn.  Now, some twenty years later I am being punished for doing everything. As I dive deeper the “rule” is 7 books make you an “expert” – are you kidding me?  I read that in a week!  That would mean I am an expert in MANY topics.  Last year I went through my college credits and according to many “rules” I have minors in more than several different subjects.

That is crazy.  You are telling me that I am competing with people who have read 7 books and are marketing themselves as an expert?

I would not say I am “expert” at anything.  There is always something to learn.  There is always more to experiment with.  There is always a new perspective to find, a fresh way of doing things.  It’s a journey.  It is a wonderful journey of discovery and learning and growth.  It is such a shame that so many are now discounting the journey and the process of discovery.  For me, it is the reason I live.  To learn and grow and share what I have learned is fantastic.

But I digress.  I am a Scanner as Barbara Sher  defines.  Here’s a test to see if you are one too:  Are You a Generalist?  This was my result - big surprise!

Ultimate Generalist - Teri Temme

I am burdened, or gifted, dependent on your perspective, with the need to be involved in many different things.  It’s not what I want as much as what I need.  I don’t have a choice.  I wonder if Da Vinci had the same issues in his time?  He is revered for his variety of interests, yet today we would pigeonhole him into one task and berate him for wanting to learn anything else.  It is ridiculous.

If I am capable of more and willing to do the job at hand as well, what is the harm?  This has been vexing me throughout my career.  Always being told to choose.  I have chosen – I have chosen to pursue whatever I am interested in at the time!  How’s that for a choice?  Not on your list?  Sorry.  But I am not asking you to do the same.  I am just requesting that I be allowed to follow my passions and not be told I want to too much.  There is never enough – trust me smiley

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