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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Let’s connect! Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Also, find more articles at http://www.RaisedByAVillage.com

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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Gift of Synesthesia

Synesthesia - picture - final

A few months ago, I learned that a mental process of mine had a long Greek name associated with it.  I set out to discover what this mental process was, who else had it, how it helped or hindered us, and how best to take advantage of what I have come to call the “Gift of Synesthesia”.

Earlier this year while walking into work, a field of rye grass and the leaves on a row of eucalyptus trees were going back and forth in rhythm with the blowing wind.  I stopped and stared because I realized that the rye heads and eucalyptus leaves weren’t just moving – I sensed vibrations coming off of them (stronger than normal), perceived lines and waves in my mind, and heard the whole as a symphony in my mind.  It was profound.

At first, I thought I was imagining things and then realized I had joined their symphony by the simplicity of my standing there.  I was swept along in the movements, riding the waves of motion.  Later that day, I checked again – yep, same sensations.  Then, I started thinking about how I used to see and sense similar things when I was a kid, a teenager, in my 20s, 30s, etc.  I realized it was the same.

In trying to figure this thing out, I researched “sensing vibrations from things you see”.  Came across some articles, which led me to others, which led me to “synesthesia”, which led me to youtube, which led me to an interview with some synesthetes.  One of them closely expressed what I was feeling.  I was so excited that I started crying.  Finally, this thing wasn’t weird!  It had a name!

Synesthesia is basically a blending of the senses.  Some people perceive colored numbers, taste colors, see the entire number line, or see a calendar that rotates in their minds.  For a more complete definition with links and references, check out: wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia.

So, then came the questions, “Why didn’t I understand this thing 40 years ago?!  20 years ago?  10 years ago?”  When those frustrations re-occur, my wife reminds me, “Well, you didn’t, and the past is the past.  But, now you do – so use it to move forward.”

Okay.  Now what?  How do I best use this for the next 50 years?  I’ve been asking around, learning more, and looking into some possibilities.

From what I understand at this point, my synesthesia manifests itself in multiple modalities.  There are lots of different reactions in my head to the various inputs.  Each sense evokes a unique response at times, while some senses constantly blend together multiple things.  Wednesdays are muted-green; Mondays are blue; etc.  Recently, when I was looking through a collection of pictures from a friend, I saw a pink flamingo and “Tuesday!” came to mind.  I know – it might sound weird – but there you have it.

I believe that’s where part of my intense creativity comes from.  I haven’t always known what to do with the artistic words, images, paintings, pictures, poetry, music, and lyrics that have appeared in and flooded my mind over the past four decades.  I’ve expressed some through books, songs, and teaching.  But I’ve filed away many others in my brain, waiting for the right time.  Maybe that time has finally come.

Another example that comes to mind is a car I bought from a friend who was moving out of town.  Carnell smoked a lot and used a particular gel air freshener to cover the smokiness in the red Lincoln.  Every time I got in that car, I told him that it smelled “purple”.  We laughed about it.  But he finally understood what I meant when I discovered that one of his air freshener gel cans had slipped down inside behind the glove box next to the heater core.  So, that thing was just pumping out a deep cherry-purple smell every day!  I finally got rid of the odor in the car, but every time I smell it in the aisle in a store or in an office somewhere, it immediately takes me back to Carnell’s red Lincoln…purple.

Also, if I tilt my head a certain way while looking at the computer screen, some of the letters turn green or purple.  Other words pick up a reddish or yellowish hue around them.  Now, that might just be the lighting of the screen, but either way it’s pretty darn cool.  I tell myself that the letters are all just plain black, and they won’t distract me.

Sounds are especially a hot topic for me – always have been.  So, I’ve carried earplugs with me for the past 20 years.  At parties and sports events, I wear them to take the edge off, yet can still hear conversations just fine.

I tried to talk about this “thing” with others when I was 5 or 6 years old, trying to understand it.   We were out on the playground at school, and the trees and grass across the road were blowing in the wind.  I asked one of the teachers, “Why do the leaves do that?”  “Do what?” she asked.  “That,” pointing at them moving.  She looked at me a little confused and replied, “Well, the wind’s blowing.”  I looked back at her and said, “No, I got that part.  I know that.  But what makes the vibrations come off of them?”  She grinned slightly and said, “You have a very creative imagination.”

After a couple of years of mentioning it or asking people about it when was young, they implied that I was making things up, that I was nuts, or was just being weird.  So, I kept it to myself.  But, it’s still been there every day – just didn’t know what it was.  Now I do.

Since realizing what “this” is, I’ve decided to let it run.  It’s been a very fun couple of months!  I feel like I’m finally me, again.

If you think you may have synesthesia or know someone else who does, I would love to hear about your/their experiences.  You can also find out more by answering some questions at www.synesthete.org .  The site is run by a research lab at Baylor University in Houston, TX.

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Thanks for stopping by, today.  I hope you liked the post!
For more stuff, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Feeling the Movements He Saw – synesthesia

Aviazje could feel motion, not just see it, but feel it.  Whenever the trees moved around him, he would stand and sway with them, feeling the wind blow through, taking him along for the ride.  These were special moments when he could stand alone in the woods and let the trees and wind do their thing.

To Aviazje, the fields around his house weren’t just fields, they were a symphony.  When the wind blew the rye grass or the wheat, he watched as the orchestra of blades and stalks play their opus, rounding out the set with crescendos and then softer, softer.

He thought the whole world saw what he saw, felt what he felt, and sensed what he sensed.  But apparently, they didn’t.  His friends at school laughed and made fun of him when he swayed to the music in class, or bounced in tune to the happy beats he heard in his head – sometimes they came from the records or tapes that the teacher played, and sometimes they came from all of the recordings he had stored in his mind.

He couldn’t control his automatic reactions to the music or to the sights.  But, after his classmates laughed at him over and over, he learned ways to ignore the impulses to move with the music and to block out the motions he saw and felt.

When he was in public, he would walk around with his hands in his pockets and his head down, trying not to sense anything around him.  But it didn’t work for long.  Looking down, he started seeing patterns in the sidewalk cracks, and motion flowed through his body from that.

Not understanding what was going on, he eventually wished he would go blind, deaf, or numb.  Maybe being dead would solve his problem, he thought to himself on occasion.  But then, he would look out across the fields, run into the woods, and let himself be swept up in the glory that surrounded him from every side.

When storms came and thunder rolled, he could feel the heartbeat of heaven.  When it rained, he could feel the tears of blessing fall upon the ground.  Then, as he walked across his yard, he would sense the earth’s heart beating along with his – a different rhythm, distinctly its own – but a heartbeat, coming from below his feet.  And what a pounding it gave off.  What a thunderous roar it would lurch forward with and remind him it was good to be alive – to feel the motions he saw.

After that day, whether he was inside his house or at school in class, he would simply touch the walls, the floor, or his desk and feel the vibrations tell him of the song that had been sung throughout time.

Then, he would lay in the yard looking up toward the sky with palms stretched downward, and touch the ground.  He let the orchestra of grass, dirt, and air play their melodies and pulsate their rhythms through his little body.  In moments like that he was in tune with his core.  No one could ever take that away.

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I can be reached at martyjreep(at)yahoo.com.  If you enjoyed this article, check out some of my other stuff at http://www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Aviazje, his story (poetry)

Aviazje was born
He walked and lived and died.
But while he was alive,
He felt the world around him
He saw things, yes he did
He learned things, yes he did
He smelled things, yes he did
But most importantly
And most of all
Aviazje felt things
He felt people
Their hurts
Their pains
Their joys
Their smiles
Their love of life
And hatred of others
Aviazje avoided the news
Because it pained him so
To read it
To hear it
To see it
When people died in earthquakes
He died with them
When children starved in famine
He hungered with them
When war blew body parts off of men and women
His limbs ached to the core with them
He saw the movements in the sky
Felt the sun rays coming down
And saw them enter the skin of people around him
Aviazje felt all those things
Until they broke him
So, he tried to shut out the world.
It worked for a while
Then he finally realized he needed to allow part of it in
In order to maintain a balance
Of the good and the bad
That he sensed and felt and internalized
From outside.

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Thanks for reading this post. I hope you liked it!
For more poetry, check out www.amazon.com/author/reep

Learn Another Language!

This week at work, a couple of friends and I were talking about some of the different websites that are out there now that help you learn other languages.

It’s amazing how many sites there are and how many of them are interactive. If you’re interested in learning another language, here’s a list that may help you:

Language Learning Sites:

Language Agencies:

Articles:

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You can email me at martyjreep (at) yahoo.com.  This article was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

In the Valleys

Green are the valleys
That spread out before me
Filling my eyes with the glory
From above

They speak the truth
Of the peace and anguish
That have comingled there
Since the beginning of time

Their verdant sides
And fruitful floors
Fill my eyes
With wonder

And cause me to pause in thought
Wondering why is there such a mixture
Of the good and the bad,
And why doesn’t one just crush the other?

But they don’t.
They co-exist as if in some diabolical mixture from hell
That caresses the beautiful locks of heaven
And gives wait ’til it lays its head down for sleep.

And…the side from heaven that shows itself in the valleys
Likewise wait for hell’s caresses to end
So it can cut off the fingers
And end their meddling.

All that – I see
When I look upon the beauty
Of the valleys
Below.

All that –
Waits to be recognized in the eyes
And catapulted into the minds
Of the viewers and occupants there below.

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Excerpted from one of Reep’s upcoming books. 
For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Sanctuary of the Woods

Way down in the woods, we’d play every afternoon til it started getting dark. Then, we’d work our way back up through the trees and out into the clearing that formed the top part of the hill behind the hay barn and the metal calf barn that was painted white. Out on top of the hill, the evening light shone all around and lit up everything like it was a dying fire. Reds and oranges and yellows all leapt and jumped around with the changing of the shadows, as the sun set farther and farther into the horizon in the west.

But before all of that, we were in the woods. That’s where the most glorious music was played, the most pungent and wonderful smells were produced, and where the most intricate of interlacing details could be seen wherever we walked or stood. Ants crawled all over the ground and exposed themselves here and there in the form of a red clay hill to signify they had made a huge undertaking underground. “Hill” was a relative term compared to the towering pine trees and oak trees in the immediate vicinity. However, to the ants, their hills were gigantic.

The creek constantly gave off its melody that wound up being the background tune for the rest of the woods. As the stream of water walked across the rocks and sand underneath, it splashed and dashed, adding to its travels an occasional brushing up next to the tall grass that grew along the creek bank. Dragonflies, water bugs, and butterflies flitted around in search of their own particles to eat and enjoy. Their color added flavor to the eyes along the stream of water, as it meandered its way from the bottom land of the pasture and into the area we claimed as our sanctuary – the woods.

God had given us those woods in order to show us that he was still very much in charge, although our home life was hectic at times. Growing up can be challenging for anyone at times, and we were no exception.

The peace and solitude of the tree-covered area was our home for a few hours each day, enough that it gave us respite from the craziness. When we entered the woods and the tall grass surrounding the creek, we knew we were safe. Sure there were lots of critters around, but we knew none of them would hurt us.

How did we know? Birds singing was one of the signs. If the birds were singing, then nothing was around that they were bothered by – and they were always singing, so we were always safe.

Of all the birds in the woods, one of the most amazing ones was the mockingbird. It had the ability to be a one-man-band. It could hear a new bird and after a little practice, it could take the other bird’s voice as its own. At the time, we didn’t understand all of the details – we just knew it sounded beautiful.

The wind joined in on the symphony that God had going on in the woods. As it blew across the tall, green grass and through the dark pine needles in the treetops surrounding us, we could feel the presence of something incredible passing through our midst. It was almost as if the stars and clouds had come down and were invisibly brushing us on our cheeks.

Today, I still love the breeze.

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This article was adapted from one of Reep’s upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Mind Over Matter

When responsibilities, deadlines, and things around you are tough, life can appear difficult. It is at those times that you may start wishing you were elsewhere: on a beach, in the mountains, at the park, or in another life.

Does that mean in those situations you are letting the surrounding conditions control your emotions and reactions? Yes, probably so. Is that the best way to react? No, probably not. So what to do?

To not let them control you, make a conscious decision to be indifferent to them. Surrounding conditions are a lot of times only innate objects or imposed beliefs. And if they are innate objects, they may not even be real. They may simply be conditions that you perceive as real and attach emotions and reactions.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is employ the idea of mind over matter. That is part of the perspective where genius comes from. Mind over matter is part of what gives you super-abilities in times of need.

The more you dwell there and see your surrounding conditions from its vantage point, the more you will have it as your confidant. You will be able to harness and actively use its power to overcome in life, moment-by-moment.

Likewise, all thoughts, actions, and reactions are seeds that get released into the physical and metaphysical planes of the universe. There, they get planted and grow into fruition. So, nothing is just in and of itself. There are always more things connected to the action or thought than are evident.

The mental approach you take to overcome a particular situation can actually lay the groundwork for success and progress in future areas of your life. By taking the time to positively plan your approach to utilizing your ideas and brilliance to succeed, you are investing in your own future.

Over the years, life will take some interesting turns. Many aspects will mesh into an interesting tapestry that continuously grows. Keep yourself at the point where you look forward to how each new day will unfold. Visualizations will come true, and then more will take their place in the future. It’s always interesting to see how visualization will materialize and when.

You don’t have to figure out your whole life all at once. Enjoy life as it is, moment by moment. When you do, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is and how much more at ease living becomes.

“Mind over matter” works.

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adapted from my book An Agreement with Life

Lightning Storms in the Field

Every other weekend during the school year, it was our turn to milk. My brother and I would help Daddy milk Saturday evening, Sunday morning, and Sunday evening. We also fed the cows Saturday and Sunday, midday. Sometimes when people were out sick or on vacation, we helped during the week – but mostly every other weekend.

During the summer, though, it was a different story. Any morning or evening was fair game, depending on what was going on. If hay needed to be baled, then somebody milked while somebody else baled. If it was a silage-cutting time, one guy cut silage, one drove wagons back and forth to the field, and another packed the silo with a front end loader. Two others milked.

Of course, the wild card in all of that was the weather. If it was sunny and warm out, life was good. But if it was stormy or overly hot, that was a different story. Likewise, rainstorms were something amazing to watch. It was always interesting to see just how close the clouds would get before they unleashed their water from above.

Sure, most people look at rain clouds and think, “Oh look…how pretty.” But if you’ve ever been caught out in a storm, then you probably don’t automatically think that anymore. I can’t tell you how many storms I’ve gotten caught out in. A lot of times, they would come up so suddenly that I didn’t notice they were blocking the sunshine until they were already upon me. By then, it was too late. The big fear always seemed to be about getting struck by lightning.

We could be out in the field on any given day, and Daddy would come check on us periodically. He was usually easy-going and laid back – driving slow and rarely a worried look on his face. But baby, let the sky crack loose a couple of wicked, shimmering bolts of electricity and everything changed!

That blue pickup would come flying across the fields to snatch us off the tractor quicker than a rabbit running away from a combine in second gear. Depending on which field we were in, we’d wind up going to Mamaw’s house or to our house for the duration of the heavenly electric show.

I actually liked it when that happened, because going to Mamaw’s house meant getting to eat some of her pound cake and drinking cool well water from the kitchen sink. On the other hand, going home to wait out the weather meant peanut butter and crackers and sweet tea. So, either was a win.

Either way, though, it meant that the tractor seat was going to be wet when I got back to the field. Some things just couldn’t be avoided. Sure, in a perfect world, I would have known the storm was coming and was going to have lightning in it that time – meaning we would be leaving the field for a while. But also in a perfect world, the silage would have cut itself, and we wouldn’t have had to be out there in the first place. But, that’s not how it happened. We had to cut the silage to feed to the cows – just like we had to drive the tractors that got the job done.

I’m grateful that I had the chance to get wet, driving the John Deere in the rain. In a lot of ways, it made us better kids then and better adults now. None of us take dry clothes and hospitality for granted. We’re grateful for them all the time.

Once in a while, I’m guilty of complaining about something as simple as getting my sock feet wet in the kitchen if there’s something wet on the floor. But then I’ll stop, shake my head, remember the storms in the field, and smile because I’m not soaked from head to toe. It really is amazing how things in life shape who we are and how we react to them.

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This article was adapted from one of Reep’s upcoming books. To read ones currently published, go to Amazon.com/author/reep