Being a Generalist vs a Specialist

There seems to be a growing desire for generalists, again. The pendulum swings between the want for specialists and generalists every few decades.

I wonder if it coincides with the lifetimes of the preceding generations of people, going in and out of the workplace. Meaning, let’s say something in particular needs to be developed or achieved in a society, as a whole. So, companies go out and hire bunches of men and women who know how to a particular thing and who can do it well. Then, after that series of problems is solved, the need for specializations isn’t as big anymore.

Instead, what’s hotly desired is people who can see the big picture, who can bring together opposites, who can extrapolate, and who can interconnect things, people, and resources that seem completely unrelated.

Enter, the Generalists. In some ways, we’re an odd bunch. We may not always be able to go deep into every topic, but we sure do like seeing how others’ years of expertise and experience can be used to help people in need.

Generalists and specialists. Each have a place, and each have a purpose. Which one are you? What are your unique desires and interests that can be crafted into benefiting the world? Do you love the details or the broad view? Both are needed, yet each of us tend to better relate to one or the other.

In quilt making, specialists find a color or pattern they like and use the same one over and over. A generalist is a ragpicker who can take even the most disparaging bits and pieces of cloth and sew them into a quilt, equal in beauty to that of their specialist counterparts.

Elmer Gates, Nathan Myhrvold, Lowell Wood, and Donald Sutherland. Three inventors and an actor. Each were/are idea men. Each were/are generalists, in their own way. Gates would sit in a dimly lit room for hours, picking up on bits and pieces of ideas that would flash in his mind, creating a new invention before his very eyes.

Equally adept at connecting differing pieces into a cogent whole, Myhrvold and Wood have gone on to invent all sorts of things. Yet, they would both tell you that they see themselves at generalists and not as specialty-minded folks.

Sutherland, with his 150+ films, picked his roles and acting parts not based on trying to progress up a career ladder, but based on what the character’s lines spoke to him. As a result, he wound up playing all sorts characters and roles. And, he loved every bit of it.

There’s an American living in Ecuador whose blog I’ve followed off and on, over the years. I’ve followed Dom Buonamici’s work, in part, because he changes out his occupation title at the end of his emails, from time to time. Sometimes he’s a “business investor”, sometimes a “real estate developer”, sometimes a “beachside hut dweller”, and other times a “international traveler”. Each self-proclaimed title speaks to the interest that he has or is developing at the time. I always look forward to how he’s going to sign off his next message or post.

People talk about starting over, rebranding themselves, or figuring out a different way to do things. Each of those comes with a willingness and a desire to make a change. It seems like it would be easier for generalists to change than specialists, because they can see how everything is connected to everything else. And, they probably get bored a whole faster than other people do.

Being a generalist, I’m excited that the world seems to be interested, again, in what “my kind” has to offer. For so many years, it seemed like you had to have a specific degree from a particular type of school, or nobody in the hiring realm was going to give you a chance to prove what you had to offer.

But, “times are a’changin’,” as my Dad says.

Still, not to worry if you’re specialist in something. You’re in vogue…for now. Just kidding! You’ll always be needed, as well.

It’s just fascinating how interest in a particular type of mindset, ability, or perspective comes and goes over the years.

Have a great week!

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How Much He’s Met

There is a time, when time stands still
And in that moment, we still feel
That we have lost, somehow not found
The world beyond this hallowed ground.

And when we seek to put our hands
Forth in reach for woman and man,
We do so stretch and make our might
That through the days, we feel their plight.

It seems to be, with furrowed brow,
We take their pains, on us, somehow
Not knowing that He hears their cries
And wishes us release their lives.

Across the wasteland, the Lord does seek
To fill the holes, your heart does keep.
And in the midst of life’s last breath,
You will see how much He’s met.

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Leadership – The Long-Term Investment

Recently, my wife and I were in Chicago with our three grown kids to attend the oldest child’s graduation from college.  As we were walking around the city, my wife reminded me how leadership development is a long-term investment with a lifelong payoff.  Seeing our kids interact with each other, we quietly smiled to ourselves, excited to see how well they treated each other and the other people around them on the street.

Don’t kid yourself, they’re normal human beings, like the rest of humanity.  While they were growing up, they fought with each other over all kinds of things.  Arguments happened among them just like they did among any other siblings.  And, yes, it took them a while to work out the wavelengths that they best operated on individually and as a trio.  But, eventually, they figured it out, and now it’s awesome to see.

Where did the leadership investment part come in?  Every day.  Looking back, it was hard to say “No” when we needed to, and it was hard to say “Yes” when we needed to.  By far, though, the hardest thing was knowing the difference!

We knew how we wanted them to turn out (or at least hoped they would…), so we treated it like a twenty-year investment program in each of their lives.  Meaning, we prayed with them, prayed for them, talked with them, showed them how to live, showed them how to forgive each other, and put the rest in God’s hands.

No, we were not perfect parents.  But, we found other parents who seemed to be doing a great job, and we adopted some of the methods, techniques, perspectives, and attitudes that they used and lived out every day.  Whenever I would lose patience with our kids, my wife would remind me of our overall purpose.  I’d calm down, ask them to forgive me, and start over.

Likewise, we always encouraged them (or reminded them) to be kind to each other, kind to strangers, and kind to themselves.  But at some point, we realized that showing them with our actions was more powerful than lecturing with our words.

A tongue lashing might have caused us to feel better because we vented our frustration of the moment, but what kind of example would that have set?  …Especially when they could then mimic that back to us, being justified by our own example, first displayed.  So, we did our best to teach respect by modeling how to act with each other, showing them with our actions.

Day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year, the investment began showing true fruition of the law of compounding interest.  As Einstein said, “The Law of Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world.”  …Okay, he was referring to money, but I’m looking at that universal law from the perspective of an investment in other people’s lives that will multiply into millions upon millions of lives reached in positive ways over the next three or four generations…

I’m not saying all of this as a self pat on the back.  Far from it.  I’m saying this as someone that lovingly looks at three grown kids who have been investing their own love and kindness in others around the world.  And, this is to remind you that all of your own hard work in your own family really is worth it.

Like other long-term investors, we have been seeking a long-term return of healthy future generations, and we still are.  So, instead of a final analysis, this is more of a checkpoint in time.  Now, we’ll help our grown kids map out their own life investment plans for their next twenty years — and beyond.

Let us know if we can help you do the same.

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NOTE: If you like this article, share it!  Adapted from an upcoming book.  For books published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep.   Also, find more articles at www.RaisedByAVillage.com

 

Transferring a Winning Mindset

Somebody asked me recently, “How do you transfer a winning mindset from one person to another?”  Short answer: it’s a process.  I wish it were as simple as magically wiggling your fingers next to your head and then pointing them towards whomever you want to help…but, it’s not.

However, it can be done.  Meaning, yes, you can transfer the information, ideas, and perspective from yourself to someone else.  But, there are two sides of the equation: 1) what you give; 2) what they figure out.

To hold up you side of the bargain, you give them the tools, steps, and processes that are associated with the ideas or concepts you’re trying to pass on.  Depending on the topic or situation, you may have to model or show them by example what you’re trying to convey.

What they’re responsible for is to figure out A) whether or not they have the “want to”; B) how to internalize what you give them; C) how to use it as their own.  As they take in your information and figure out how to put it to use, they will grow in the capacity in which they were hoping to.

Teachers can talk and talk until they’re blue in the face, but students aren’t going to use any of the new information until they’re ready to make it their own.  As the old adage goes, “When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.”

Sometimes, people already have the tools or know the steps they need, in order to succeed or grow.  It’s just a matter of timing, so that the realization of having it kicks in.  You may only need to turn on the proverbial “light switch” of their understanding, or simply show them where the switch is.

“What?!  It was there all along?”  “Yep.”   …is a common conversation that people have aloud or in their heads.  So, no, you’re not alone in this thing of realization or learning.

When you give somebody else the tools, steps, and processes for how to do something, they don’t have to be complicated.  Over and over, people have told me, “Just give it to me in plain English.  That’s the best way I learn.”  So, I’ve tried to do that.  It doesn’t always come out that way, but that’s the goal.

Also, tools are just that: tools.  They aren’t meant to be the be-all, end-all.  They’re only a part of the greater recipe of success.  They’re the foundational pieces of equipment that can improve somebody’s chances of success.  The same thing goes for steps and processes.  Nobody wants dozens of steps or a complicated process.  They want it to be simple.  So, translate it in your mind and make it so.

Our minds have an amazing ability to capture information, learn new things, and quickly turn them into frameworks of “Ah ha!” moments.  After a while, those moments will become second nature to us, and we’ll expand that new framework in ways that connect with the other vast knowledge and experiences we already have.

Hopefully, you’ll get to see the beauty of that growth in others, as you transfer your winning mindset to them.

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NOTE: If you like reading Marty’s articles, please tell others about them.  He can be reached at martyjreep(at)yahoo.com.  This article was adapted from one of his upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep.  

Also, find more of Marty’s and his sister Janet’s work at www.RaisedByAVillage.com

 

Ocean Calls (poetry)

The ocean calls my name –
It shouts for my existence.
So, I appear before the water’s edge
And walk forward into it.

Likewise, the heavens declare the glory
Of the king above the earth,
And all of mankind knows
The Master rules with love.

Though kingdoms rise and fall,
Capitulation will not bring forth
A resolution of timed response
Against forces that persist and prevail.

Times will seek the heavens’ reach
And draw unto the world,
When kingdoms fall – the all-in-all –
Yet end will never come.

“Shine forth the heavens,” glory speaks,
“And give unto the end.”
We will see the endless round
And start it once again.

Time will pace itself throughout
The rounding of the sun
And all throughout heaven’s hold
Hate will be undone.

Capture not the rising light
But follow where it may
And in its brief beauty short,
“Glory on this day.”

The range of rage will rise and fall
It casts about to grab,
Yet when it finds its wanted catch
It will forever mourn.

Be still, bestow, allow the love
Speak and tell the truth.
When all is told in midday’s breath,
The world will be subdued.

Ancient words do greet us now,
And resting on their souls
Are utterances deeply drawn
From lands that’re ne’er foretold.

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Dancing Among (poetry)

Riding a wave and dancing among stars,
We glide across the celestial floor,
Making our way from center to side,
Back to front, there and across.

Our toes touch down,
Then break away,
Lifting into the sky
Scents of vanilla on paradise.

Music jumps and shines
Hour upon hour
And then slows.
Beats go down,
And bring with them a ventured look.

To the side,
Morning breaks and carries forth its light.
Day enters our minds
Awakens our senses
And leads us on to the next
Opening ridge.

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Stillness (poetry)

Stillness of the moment
Is a welcomed friend.
Lives are calm,
People at peace,
Roads not traveled,
Solitude amplified
Across time and space
To include sounds and feelings.
If you listen carefully,
You can hear the dust falling
From the mantle to the bricks below,
From a window to the floor.
The quiet is gentle on the ears,
A welcomed friend
In the midst of constant strangers.

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Thanks for stopping by, today!
For more stuff, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep