For those of us who are average

We live in a world of specialists.

The academic world is becoming increasingly an environment where you learn to do something specific.

The business world (profit or not for-profit) is increasingly looking for specialists.

There is even a common principle–do less to do more.  This is based on the principle of specialization.  The idea being, that it is better to do one thing really well than many things average. It is the idea of playing to your strengths.  This is also based on the converse principle that you will never fully overcome your weaknesses.  So the organization your work for is better served by you specializing in your area of strength.

It is a wonderful principle that works–particularly when you are at the top of the organization.  Or if you are a particularly gifted specialist and your specialty and your employment are a perfect fit.

But what about those of us who are average?  Those of us that are not the sm[COVER]artest, best, top of the class?  What if your job requires an ability to do many things not just one?

Going counter to the focus on specialization–Adam Scott, proposed what may be common sense encouragement for those of us who are average.

You can read his whole article from the Wall Street Journal online, in the meantime, here is the center point.

Combine Skills. The first thing you should learn in a course on entrepreneurship is how to make yourself valuable. It’s unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area. But it’s easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well. I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The "Dilbert" comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.

2 thoughts on “For those of us who are average”

  1. I have seen corporations hire highly specialized individuals and promptly fire them when that specific expertise is no longer required. I was top of my class with an ivy league degree and would describe myself as having above average capability in several areas, however I still choose to keep my skill set broad. This also prevents burnout and boredom. A colleague and I have often mused at the number of times we have reinvented our careers by being flexible and able to develop new specializations as required.

    This blog makes an excellent point about how to use what you have effectively, but I think even the gifted would do well to think long and hard about how specialized they really want to be.

  2. Thanks for the prospective from the gifted.

    You are right, even the gifted need to understand the benefits and limitations of specialization.

    But I like the fact that there is hope for the rest of us!

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