I once heard (from Mark Wilson, to give credit where credit is due) that some people are specialists and some are generalists. A specialist is someone who knows when they’re a kid that they want to be a dentist. They go to dental school, become a dentist, and joyfully work as a dentist their whole lives. They end up as a highly skilled expert in their field. Specialists look like this:
Then there are generalists. Generalists want to be a thousand different things. They try lots of stuff. They are interested in everything. They reach age 40 and wonder what they will be when they grow up. Generalists look like this:
Note that the Specialist and the Generalist both cover the same amount of area. The difference is that the Specialist goes deep in a narrow field, whereas the Generalist is broad but shallow.
We need both these kinds of people to make the world go ’round! One is not better than the other. (The grass is NOT greener…).
According to Mark Wilson, the Specialist needs to strive to broaden themselves a bit, and the Generalist must challenge themselves to deepen in a few areas. Like this:
I am a Generalist. In no particular order, I am really into belly dancing, writing, rock-climbing, silversmithing, mountain biking, and sewing. Plus I love hiking, bird watching, painting, helping Klu write his blog for kids, Get a Klu, and several other things on an occasional basis.
The Curse of the Generalist: choosing which areas to deepen. HELP!!!!! I feel all stretched out and pulled too thin, trying to launch my Etsy shop, Magic Carpet Dance Arts, and finish my novel, while still working 40 hours a week and not letting go of any of those other things. I feel pained right now…